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USVI Shines as the Crown Jewel of the Caribbean in 2023, Says Condé Nast Traveler Readers

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Condé Nast Traveler unveiled the much-anticipated results of its annual Reader’s Choice Awards on Tuesday, spotlighting the U.S. Virgin Islands as a premier Caribbean destination.

The Reader’s Choice Awards, boasting a rich tradition as a venerable benchmark in the travel sphere, applauds excellence in global travel. This year, over half a million Condé Nast Traveler readers voiced their opinions, reflecting on their worldwide travel ventures. Their vast and varied insights make these awards a reliable gauge of the locales travelers are keen to explore again. The full list of accolade recipients is available here.

Joseph Boschulte, the V.I. Dept. of Tourism Commissioner, warmly embraced the honor, remarking, “We accept this esteemed recognition with immense pride on behalf of the entire U.S. Virgin Islands and our associates. Such acknowledgment from our visitors, especially on a distinguished platform, ranks among the highest honors for our tourism-centric destination.”

2023 has been a banner year for the U.S. Virgin Islands, bagging numerous commendations. Notably, Condé Nast Traveler listed the islands in its “Best Places to Go in 2023” compilation, while Travel + Leisure featured the USVI in its lineup of the 50 top destinations for 2023 under the “For Beach Vibes” segment. Yahoo! Life touted the USVI among the top 10 tropical islands easily accessible from the U.S. mainland in under three hours. Moreover, Travel Magazine lauded the USVI as the Best Caribbean Cruise Destination for 2023. Frommer’s too acknowledged the territory in its yearly Best Places to Go in 2023 roundup. Condé Nast Traveler editors also hailed the USVI for boasting the Best Airbnb in the Caribbean.

The driving force behind the USVI’s triumph was underscored as Caribbean Journal honored Boschulte with the Caribbean Tourism Executive of the Year title, and dubbed USVI the Best Caribbean Islands to Visit in 2023. Further, the readers of Caribbean Journal awarded the territory the CJ Caribbean Travelers’ Choice Awards 2022.

On the marketing frontier, the USVI’s campaigns have garnered significant attention, clinching the 2023 Internet Advertising Competition Awards by the Web Marketing Association, the BrandUSA Storyteller Award for the USVI’s Park2Park endeavor, and the 2023 Web Awards for Outstanding Website.

For those intrigued to learn more about the U.S. Virgin Islands and its plethora of attractions, the official website, visitusvi.com, offers an extensive guide.

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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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Tourism

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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Tourism

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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