Arrivals to U.S. Virgin Islands dip in summer

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas -- Air and cruise arrivals to the U.S. Virgin Islands flagged a bit this summer, while hotel occupancies rose 7% over the same period last year.

In July, the volume of cruise passengers to St. Thomas/St. John dropped by almost 25% from July 2004, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Development. Cruise passengers totaled 94,655, arriving on 29 ships in July, down from 123,655 passengers who arrived on 40 ships in July 2004.

There were no cruise calls in St. Croix in July.Junes cruise figures also reflected a decrease of 21% from June 2004. The passenger total that month was 99,201 versus 126,643 the previous June.

Tourism officials attributed the cruise drop in June and July to the redeployment of several cruise ships to Asian ports.

The drop in air arrivals was not so dramatic. In July in St. Thomas, a dip of 0.6% was recorded, and the total number of visitors coming by air was 48,090, down slightly from the 48,401 last July.

However, St. Croixs air arrival figures fared much better, rising by 8.7%, which officials attributed to the return of Deltas flights to the island and the addition of two USAirways weekly flights.

Hotel occupancies throughout the territory rose on average from 62.8% in July 2004 to 69.6% last July. St. Thomas/St. John hotels registered occupancies of almost 73% in July versus 67% in July 2004.

The total number of visitors to the USVI from January through July was up 2.2% to 1.7 million visitors compared with 1.6 million for the same period last year.

European visitors accounted for the biggest increases, followed by visitors from South America, Canada and Central America.

The upswing from Europe could be attributed, in part, to the weak U.S. dollar as well as aggressive marketing efforts abroad, according to Tourism Department officials.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Gay Nagle Myers at [email protected].


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