Tourism indicators show slow months were even slower
Published: March 11, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Bureau of Economic Research's Tourism Indicators show that arrivals were down in September and October compared with those same months the year before.
In September, arrivals fell by 6.1 percent, and in October they declined by 6.4 percent.
"It seems that the decrease points to cruise arrivals being down and fewer cruise ship calls," Tourism spokeswoman Allegra Kean-Moorehead said.
In September, 10,247 fewer people arrived in the territory on a cruise ship compared with September 2011 - a 12.9 percent drop.
The number of ship calls fell from 23 in September 2011 to 18 in September 2012.
In October, the decline was not so drastic, only a 4.1 percent decrease in cruise ship passengers. The number of ship calls fell from 32 in October 2011 to 29 in October 2012.
September and October are slower months for tourism anyway, but the territory could be losing already scarce ground to competitors, Kean-Moorehead said.
"There is increased competition, cruise lines are one of those industries driven by customer demand and customer desire, and they really follow that intelligence," she said. "New cruise terminals are opening up all over the world, so we are competing in a global environment."
Next week, Tourism and other V.I. government officials will head to Cruise Shipping Miami, the annual industry conference formerly known as SeaTrade.
Kean-Moorehead said government officials will be meeting with cruise line executives to update them on the territory's infrastructure improvements and new attractions in an effort to lure more cruise activity to the territory.
"Hopefully, they will take all that into consideration as they plan itineraries," she said.
While cruise arrivals may be lagging, the territory saw an uptick in air arrivals in September. Compared with the same month the year before, air arrivals rose by 13.4 percent.
In the St. Thomas-St. John District, 24,163 people arrived by airplane in September, up 17 percent from the 20,645 that came the year before.
St. Croix had a 2.8 percent increase in air arrivals.
However, in October, air arrivals fell by 12.4 percent compared with the previous year - a 12.9 percent drop in the St. Thomas-St. John District and a 10.9 percent drop on St. Croix.
Overall hotel occupancy rates fell in September and October, the only uptick was in the month of October, when St. Croix saw a slight increase from 32.6 percent to 36.5 percent occupancy.
Hotel Occupancy Tax, 10 percent of all hotel room revenues, is deposited into the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund.
In September, revenues were down 4.1 percent - a loss of $48,102 - compared with the previous year.
In October, hotel tax revenues showed a strong gain, jumping from $446,469 in October 2011 to $805,555.
In the first 10 months of 2012, 2 million visitors arrived in the territory, a 1.8 percent decline compared with the first 10 months of 2011.
In the same period, air arrivals rose, but cruise arrivals fell compared with 2011.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.