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.
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 department.

"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 accommodations."

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