U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte shared some encouraging tourism numbers about the islands compared to the rest of the Caribbean. While the region as a whole saw a steep decline in visitors since March 2020, the U.S. Virgin Islands credit a smart, sensible public health policy and tourism management efforts which kept the islands as a top destination for travelers even in the midst of a pandemic.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization reported a 2020 Caribbean-wide overnight visitor decline of 65.5 percent, down from a record 31.5 million visits to the region in 2019. The U.S. Virgin Islands, however, saw 415,749 air arrivals in 2020, representing just a 35.1 percent reduction year-over-year. Global tourism declined 73.9 percent over the same period.
“We are incredibly thankful for the leadership of Governor Albert Bryan Jr, Lieutenant Governor Tregenza Roach, Commissioner of Health Justa Encarnacion and the countless Virgin Islanders – from our policy makers and the business community to grassroots organizers – for their thoughtful actions, which continue to protect precious lives as well as livelihoods,” said Commissioner Boschulte. “We must continue to press on and deliver results for our industry and for every Virgin Islander,” the tourism commissioner stated, “but not at the expense of relaxing adherence to public health and safety protocols such as wearing face masks and maintaining physical distance.”
The U.S. Virgin Islands recently announced that it will allow all U.S. Virgin Islands residents ages 16 or older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, making it the first United States jurisdiction to offer the vaccine to such a large majority of residents. Most states are still limited vaccine distribution to those over the age of 50 or with pre-existing conditions, though many have plans to lower the age in the coming weeks and months. Governor Albert Bryan Jr. plans to have 50,000 people, half the population of the islands, vaccinated by July 1, 2021.
Can I Travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands?
All visitors five years of age or older must use the Travel Screening Portal to submit the mandatory COVID-19 test result prior to traveling to any USVI territory. Travelers are required to provide evidence of a negative a COVID-19 molecular or antigen test result taken within five days of commencement of travel to the Territory or a positive antibody result received within four months of commencement of travel to the Territory.
Watch our interview with U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte: