DENVER -- Eight months after hurricanes Irma and Maria tore
through the U.S. Virgin Islands, 60% of their lodging units are open, according
to the USVI Department of Tourism.
With 100% of the islands now with power, airport arrivals
are back to 85% of what they'd been before the storms. Cruise ships, which
returned to the island before most forms of tourism, are at 100%.
Kay Milliner-Kitchens of the USVI Department of Tourism at the IPW conference. Photo Credit: Johanna Jainchill
On the islands, 100% of the shops are open while 95% of
restaurants are operational. About 80% of USVI attractions are operational. The
ones that are closed are predominantly at hotels that are still closed,
according to Kay Milliner-Kitchens, director of sales for the tourism
"We're coming along quite nicely,"
Milliner-Kitchens said from the IPW conference here this week, where a large photo
of the white-sand beaches of St. John, St. Thomas and Buck Island off of St.
Croix hung on the wall of the USVI booth with the slogan, "Still Nice."
"And those were taken in December," she said.
The hotels that are still closed include the islands'
largest ones, such as the Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, Sugar Bay and the Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas and Caneel
Bay and the Westin in St. John. The islands expect 100% of their lodging to be
back by the end of 2019.
In the meantime, villas, rentals and Airbnb have helped fill
the gap, Milliner-Kitchens said.
"Our Airbnb offerings have grown," she said. "We've
embraced the accommodations-sharing economy and held town halls with Airbnb to
encourage new hosts. It is helping to fill the gaps where we are missing