Governor Mapp at Transfer Day CeremonyU.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth E. Mapp recently held a press conference at Government House, where he discussed a number of economic development initiatives.

Tourism has long been the single-largest driver of the economy in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the industry has fully recovered since the Great Recession. Mapp emphasized the importance of the tourism industry to the economy in the territory, and said he is reviewing a variety of initiatives that may help boost the industry even further.

The following are a few of the primary issues the governor discussed related to tourism and the territory’s overall economy:

Five-year plan

The Commission of Tourism has begun updating its own five-year tourism plan, which it developed alongside the Office of the Governor. The plan will help create a more sustainable future for the tourism through research, data collection and strategic visioning sessions.

New resort on Water Island

Governor Mapp also announced a brand-new resort on Water Island, which will make that particular island more attractive for tourists. It is the smallest and newest addition to the U.S. Virgin Islands, having joined the territory officially in 1996. However, it has not had a whole lot of tourist attention other than day trips and very few visitors who stay overnight at a small campground on the island.

Tourism on Water Island plummeted after Hurricane Hugo destroyed its Sea Cliff Resort in 1989, and has never truly recovered. This new resort, however, should attract visitors to the islands like never before.

Organizational alliances

Big names in the U.S. Virgin Islands tourism industry have a lot to gain by working alongside other organizations. An alliance between ARDA-Caribbean, ARDA-ROC and the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association, for example, helped to get the territory through the recession and steadily build up the industry as a whole afterward. The governor said he believes such alliances are going to continue to be a significant asset to the industry moving forward.

Focus on the natural

Another economic initiative relating to the tourist industry is to continue to focus on the natural attractions located throughout the territory. A beautiful year-round climate, gorgeous water and an abundance of recreational activities have given the U.S. Virgin Islands a reputation for being something of a paradise. Continuing to provide opportunities for snorkeling, diving, kayaking, deep-sea fishing and exploration will be a major facet of the tourism industry as it continues to build on recent successes.

U.S. Virgin Islands officials don’t appear to have any shortage of ideas when it comes to building on the recent growth the tourism industry—and the economy as a whole—have experienced.


Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney for BoltNagi PC, a respected and well-established government relations law firm serving individuals, businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.