U.S. Virgin Islands Seeks Re-Development of Cruise Tourism Initiatives

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The U.S. Virgin Islands have struck a deal with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) to develop the region further, and the impact cruise tourism has on the area. Together, the Virgin Islands and the FCCA will work on a series of initiatives that should increase the overall economic impact the visiting cruise ships have locally. 

Included in the initiatives are increased cruise calls for 2022, the development of new experiences and products, enticing more guests to come back after a cruise as stay-over guests, and more. While the US Virgin Islands have long been a standard port of call for many cruises, new developments will be needed to keep the ships, and guests, coming back.

Cruise Destination Looks To Renew Interest

While new and exciting destinations are coming up worldwide, the traditional cruise destinations, such as St. Thomas and St. Croix, although still extremely popular, will need to look at keeping interest in their ports high if they wish to compete.

Cruise Ships in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Cruise Ships in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (Photo Credit: Victor Maschek / Shutterstock)

For that reason, the islands have partnered up with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), a not-for-profit trade organization that represents the interests of the cruise industry and destinations’ private and public sectors, to develop the current program in a more sustainable business model, which will help the local economy recover faster post-pandemic. 

“The U.S. Virgin Islands celebrates its steadfast partnership with FCCA and its Member Lines,” said USVI Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte. “Strategic marketing and collaborative programs promoting the allure of the cruise industry and our awe-inspiring islands are expected to provide the Territory with a springboard for a speedy resumption, as we enter the endemic phase of Covid-19.”

Several Initiatives For 2022

The agreement will feature access to key decision-makers and their joint efforts with FCCA. The initiatives that have been put on the table include increased cruise calls and new experiences and products that will promote the area while collaborating with the local private sector. 

Michele Paige, President, FCCA: “Through this agreement, the U.S. Virgin Islands will have FCCA’s full commitment to fulfilling the destination’s initiatives, including assisting the private sector and helping all locals prosper from the economic impact that the industry brings.”

There will also be opportunities for more employment and local purchasing, conversion of cruise guests to stay-over visitors, promotion of summer cruising, and more.

US Virgin Islands Looking to Return to Pre-Pandemic Numbers

Over the last two years, the local economy in the US Virgin Islands has taken a significant hit. The islands have always been heavily reliant on cruise tourism, with as many as three, four, or even more ships visiting each day pre-pandemic.

Cruise Ships in St. Thomas
Photo Credit: Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock

In the 2017-2018 cruise season, the industry generated $184.7 million in total cruise tourism expenditures and $77.9 million in total employee wage income. While the Virgin Islands have seen a steady return of stay-over guests to its beautiful beaches, the cruise industry remains behind.

Micky Arison, Chairman of FCCA and Carnival Corporation & plc.: “This agreement is a further testament to the continued partnership that the U.S. Virgin Islands has had with FCCA and the cruise industry. The destination has supported cruising through the best and worst of times, and I am proud that this agreement will make it possible to better the lives and livelihoods of so many people there.”

During the partnership, the Virgin Islands will have access to the knowledge and inner circle of people such as Micky Arison and other key decision-makers in the cruise industry to help them develop their cruise product into a future-proof standard. 

With hundreds of ports vying for a limited number of cruise ships, the cruise industry will look at ports that add value to a stay. Failing to be an attractive option for the vessels and the guests will mean losing millions of dollars in potential income. 

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