BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Infrastructure improvements in St. Thomas include a new thoroughfare in Charlotte Amalie, said Beverly Nicholson-Doty, commissioner of tourism for the U.S. Virgin Islands, at the Caribbean Tourism Organization's annual conference.
The thoroughfare bypasses the crowded downtown area and eases congestion around the cruise ship piers, she said.
“The whole downtown area is getting a facelift with street repairs, improvements to building exteriors and more ADA-compliant sidewalks, ramps, entrances and exits to shops and restaurants,” she said.
On St. Croix, the boardwalk redo in Christiansted is 50% complete, and new traffic patterns are helping ease congestion in the shopping area.
New trails that accommodate wheelchairs have opened in the national park on St. John.
A new website targeting Virgin Islanders who live outside the territory was launched this summer www.usviambassadors.com.
“It is for our diaspora who want to stay connected to home and get involved in promoting the USVI,” Nicholson-Doty said.
“The diaspora represents an important sales tool for us and, unlike our main website which introduces our islands to potential visitors, the ambassador site features information of specific interest to Virgin Islanders.”
Already, the USVI has reaped benefits from the site, welcoming five groups of visitors who came to vacation, based upon the recommendations of former residents now living outside the territory.
Although overall stayover and cruise arrivals are down 6% year-to-date in the U.S. Virgin Islands, hotel revenues are up due to increased room rates.
“There has been a drop in cruise traffic this year, but the upcoming season appears much stronger with 590 calls scheduled for St. Thomas between now and next September,” the commissioner said.
Airlift is “fairly strong,” especially to St. Thomas with service from US Airways, United, American, JetBlue and Spirit, she said.
Delta will not resume its seasonal weekly service from Atlanta, but regional carrier Seaborne is upping its flights from San Juan to both St. Thomas and St. Croix.