As tourism competition increases throughout the Caribbean, officials in the U.S. Virgin Islands are focused on improving the cruise ship experience for passengers visiting the territory to help keep tourists coming back for more.
The Ports of the Virgin Islands Charlotte Amalie Task Force recently met to discuss plans to improve this experience, according to a press release from the Department of Tourism. According to Governor Kenneth Mapp, there is a need to re-engineer and re-imagine the product offered by the U.S. Virgin Islands and elevate the overall guest experience. Mapp also said the territory needs to “develop not only what people want today, but also anticipate their future needs.”
The following is a brief overview of some of the topics of discussion at the task force meeting, covering many different aspects of improving tourism experiences:
- The Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement, Lloyd Bough, Jr., reported an extension of the deadline for submitting proposals to establish a harbor transportation service in Charlotte Amalie Harbor due to strong interest in the contract for the project, along with a significant number of questions submitted to the department.
- Department of Public Works Commissioner Gustav James provided an update on the $40 million Veterans Drive project, which is expected to have a contract awarded in September.
- The Department of Tourism Commissioner, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, provided an update about recent meetings with MSC Cruises and Carnival Corporation on general cruise and tourism-related topics.
- The task force proposed establishing a new berthing committee to make better use of all five berths on St. Thomas. It also proposed improved communication methods with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and various congressional officials to get additional officers at seaports and airports in the territory for a smoother, more streamlined passenger experience.
- Members of the task force discussed potentially dredging the Charlotte Amalie Harbor and the importance of doing so. Dredging the harbor would allow for the accommodation of larger-class vessels. However, $12 million would need to be raised to make the project happen.
- The task force discussed a new “Ports of the Virgin Islands” advertising campaign, promoting the advantage of duty-free products purchased in the territory.
- The task force confirmed plans to have a town hall meeting with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, the USVI community and various cruise line executives.
Similar task forces are being explored elsewhere in the territory, with one scheduled to launch in the island of St. Croix in the fall. These task forces are made up of representatives from various U.S. Virgin Islands businesses and agencies, such as retailers, ground transportation operators, restaurants, spirits distributors, the West Indian Company, the Department of Tourism, the Virgin Islands Port Authority, the Department of Public Works and the Office of the Governor.
To learn more about the various efforts underway in the territory to boost the tourism industry and the effect they could have on employment, work with an experienced business and corporate law attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Ravinder S. Nagi is a shareholder and the Assistant Managing Attorney for BoltNagi. He is the chair of BoltNagi’s Litigation Department and the Labor and Employment Practice Group. He has represented numerous private and public companies in complex labor and employment cases of all types.