FORT LAUDERDALE (April 12, 2018)—With innovative thinking, leadership and continued public-private sector collaboration, the U.S. Virgin Islands has a good opportunity to further develop its cruise tourism sector, reports Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty.

However, Nicholson-Doty, who held bilateral talks with a number of cruise line executives during last month’s Seatrade Cruise Global cruise industry convention, warned that the landscape of the tourism industry continues to be challenging as lines reposition itineraries to the Western Caribbean and passengers demand a greater diversity of experiences.

She noted that during a meeting with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s top brass, the Ports of the U.S. Virgin Islands was commended for the progress made to implement harbor transportation in the Charlotte Amalie Harbor, which they described as “the single most important thing we can do for cruise tourism on St. Thomas.”

The commissioner reported that the U.S. Virgin Islands is preparing to respond to the trend of purpose-driven travel and voluntourism by rolling out a number of projects that will be available for both cruise ship passengers and stayover visitors.

The Territory will also continue to prioritize providing authentic Virgin Islands experiences for visitors, such as food tours, historical site visits, educational rum distillery tours and the ability to purchase locally made art and products.

Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp led the USVI delegation ahead of the official opening of Seatrade in Fort Lauderdale, where he met with the FCCA leadership and cruise ship executives. Also participating at Seatrade this year were representatives from the Department of Tourism, the Virgin Islands Port Authority and The West Indian Company Limited, as well as some members of the 32nd Legislature of the Virgin Islands.

During a USVI-branded event at The Boatyard restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Mapp shared the Virgin Islands Government’s commitment to the industry and emphasized the importance of working with neighboring islands to build a strong cruise itinerary.

At Seatrade, Nicholson-Doty joined cruise executives for a panel discussion entitled Regional Spotlight—The Future Outlook for Caribbean Cruising, during which she underscored the post-hurricane resilience of both the Caribbean and the cruise industry, and spoke of the strong partnership the region shares with the FCCA.

With some cruise lines reporting higher post-hurricane guest satisfaction scores compared with pre-storm scores, FCCA President and panel moderator Michele Paige said, “The Caribbean is delivering, and delivering better than ever before.”

Nicholson-Doty also spoke to the value of partnership in the region to ensure the Caribbean cruise industry’s continued success. “No destination alone makes an itinerary. And so we are our brother’s keeper and it’s really important that we work together,” she said, emphasizing the importance of destinations sharing best practices and prioritizing resilient planning for future weather events.

“Let’s be honest, the truth is that we live in a geographical area that makes us vulnerable, so we have to think about those things that harden our infrastructure so that if and when this happens again, we are even more prepared,” she said.