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U.S. Virgin Islands Prepares for Winter 2023 with Triumphant VIPCA Yacht Charter Showcase

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The Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association (VIPCA) recently concluded a highly successful event at Yacht Haven Grande, as announced by the V.I. Department of Tourism. The event, which ran from November 11th to 14th, was a vibrant showcase of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ thriving yacht charter sector.

Kicking off with a dynamic Carnival Parade, the event captured the essence of the Virgin Islands’ cultural heritage. Cultural Dancers, Moko Jumbies, and majorettes led the procession, accompanied by a steel pan band. Their performance through the marina set an exuberant tone for the event.

According to the Department of Tourism (D.O.T.), the event was a pivotal stage for displaying a diverse range of yachts and crews. This platform provided brokers a prime opportunity to find ideal matches for their clients. The upcoming 2024 trends indicate a preference for larger vessels, a wide variety of water sports, and the unique addition of dogs as part of yacht crews, a concept that has been well-received by guests.

The event showcased over 70 yachts, varying from 42 to over 105 feet in length, including power and sail vessels, multihulls, and monohulls. This array offered attendees a comprehensive view of charter options available at Yacht Haven Grande in St. Thomas.

Joseph Boschulte, the D.O.T. Commissioner, expressed his excitement about the event’s success. He stated, “The VIPCA Yacht Charter Event at Yacht Haven Grande is a testament to the exceptional charter experiences offered in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The impressive attendance of national and international brokers highlights the increasing appeal of our islands. We are looking forward to hosting even more visitors in the Winter 2023 season and beyond.”

The resilience of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ charter yacht industry is noteworthy, having overcome challenges like hurricanes and the global pandemic. It now generates $88 million annually and positions the U.S. territory as a premier destination for bespoke, crewed yacht charters in the Caribbean.

The event concluded with an awards ceremony, featuring remarks from Assistant Commissioner of Tourism Alani Henneman. This ceremony celebrated the charter industry’s achievements and marked the successful close of the event.

The 2024 USVI Charter Yacht Show is scheduled for November 8-11 in St. Thomas. For further details and registration information for boats and brokers, please visit the event website at www.usviyachtshow.org.

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Tourism

Governor Bryan Launches Annual Tourism Feedback Summit for USVI

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Governor Albert Bryan has unveiled plans for an inaugural one-day summit aimed at gathering extensive feedback from stakeholders in the US Virgin Islands’ tourism industry. Announced during a Monday press briefing, the summit is envisioned as a post-season debrief to celebrate successes and identify opportunities for improvement.

Governor Bryan emphasized the importance of such a debrief, stating, “Following any major event, a thorough review of what worked, what didn’t, and how we can enhance operations is crucial.” He highlighted the summit’s goal to foster more cohesive operations across various sectors such as transportation, lodging, food & beverage, and excursions. The idea is to gather direct feedback from those closest to the tourism activities, encapsulating the experiences of both land-based and maritime visitors.

The governor drew upon his recent experience at the Seatrade convention in Miami, where the performance of the US Virgin Islands’ tourism was praised. “Our industry leaders are enthusiastic about our current trajectory,” he noted. Nevertheless, he sees the local summit as a strategic move to tailor discussions to the specific context and challenges of the USVI.

Governor Bryan has tasked Joe Boschulte and his team at the Department of Tourism with the summit’s organization, stressing the urgency of translating feedback into actionable plans. These actions, according to him, will involve collaborations among the executive branch, the legislature, and private sector partners to amplify the past season’s successes into future enhancements.

Highlighting the tourism sector’s significance, Governor Bryan remarked, “Tourism accounts for 70 percent of our economy, necessitating ongoing enhancement to maintain and boost our market position.” This new annual summit represents a proactive step in ensuring the US Virgin Islands remain a premier destination by aligning stakeholder efforts and directly addressing the industry’s unique challenges.

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Governor Bryan Highlights USVI’s Influence in Cruise Tourism at Seatrade 2024

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Governor Albert Bryan Jr. recently highlighted the U.S. Virgin Islands’ significant role in global cruise tourism at the Seatrade Global conference in Miami, emphasizing the territory’s commanding 5 percent market share. At a Government House press briefing this Monday, Governor Bryan shared insights from his participation in the conference, which took place from April 8 to 11. This event annually attracts executives, stakeholders, and government officials worldwide to discuss cruise industry trends and partnerships.

Initially skeptical about the conference’s value, Governor Bryan was impressed by the productive discussions this year, including meetings with leaders from major cruise lines such as Disney, Norwegian, MSC, Holland America, and Princess Caribbean. “These discussions were pivotal in shaping the decisions we’re making to advance our tourism sector,” he stated. The governor pointed out the exciting opportunities for St. Croix, noting its high potential for growth in the cruise industry.

Governor Bryan also noted that cruising has broadened globally, reaching non-traditional destinations like Palau and South Korea. Despite growing competition, he proudly stated that the Virgin Islands attract 1.6 million passengers annually, maintaining a strong presence with a 5 percent share of the global market.

He praised the V.I. Port Authority and V.I. Department of Tourism for their efforts in upgrading the tourism infrastructure, from boardwalks to restrooms, enhancing the overall visitor experience. With tourism accounting for 70% of the territory’s economy, these enhancements are proving essential. “These initiatives and investments are really proving to be worthwhile,” he remarked.

The governor also hinted at upcoming legislative changes inspired by discussions at Seatrade, aimed at boosting the cruise and tourism sectors, particularly on St. Croix. He expressed optimism about future public-private partnerships that emerged from the event.

Concluding his reflections on the conference, Governor Bryan shared that it offered a valuable perspective on how the Virgin Islands positions itself in the international market and leverages data analytics. He expressed satisfaction with the territory’s ongoing success and its role in the broader trend of global tourism expansion.

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USVI Highlights Tourism Achievements at Seatrade Cruise Global 2024

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The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism showcased their recent advancements and partnerships in the cruise industry at the 2024 Seatrade Cruise Global Conference in Miami, Florida. Led by Commissioner Joseph Boschulte, Assistant Commissioner Alani Henneman, and Deputy Commissioner RoseAnne Farrington, the USVI delegation played a pivotal role at the event.

The conference began with a welcoming barbecue sponsored by the Department of Tourism and hosted by Governor Albert Bryan Jr. This gathering brought together key figures from the Virgin Islands Legislature, Virgin Islands Port Authority, West Indian Company Limited, Magens Bay Authority, and the U.S. Virgin Islands Government Employee Retirement System. Together, they promoted the USVI as a top Caribbean destination.

Commissioner Boschulte emphasized the vital role of cruising in the USVI’s tourism strategy, stating, “Cruise tourism remains a cornerstone for our visitor intake, and Seatrade offers a unique platform for us to engage with industry leaders and share essential updates to bolster our relationships.”

During the event, Boschulte appeared on the Caribbean Spotlight panel, moderated by Michelle Paige, CEO of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA). Paige lauded Boschulte’s contributions, referencing his accolade as the 2023 Caribbean Tourism Executive of the Year by Caribbean Journal. She noted, “The U.S. Virgin Islands have undergone significant growth, largely due to Boschulte’s leadership in navigating post-pandemic challenges with innovation and a data-centric approach to tourism.”

The USVI team also participated in key discussions with executives from Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival Corporation & plc, exploring ongoing partnerships and new opportunities.

Boschulte highlighted the cruise sector’s robust recovery and growth, pointing out a 13% increase in visitor numbers in 2023 compared to 2019, with over 1.6 million passengers from 495 ship calls. This trend is expected to continue, with an anticipated 5% rise in cruise passenger arrivals in 2024.

He concluded, “Our collaborative efforts with partners like the FCCA and the Caribbean Tourism Organization are a testament to the Caribbean’s united front in tourism. We are committed to providing a safe and welcoming destination, ensuring memorable experiences for our visitors and showcasing the unique attributes of the USVI.”

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