ST THOMAS, USVI -- The governor of the US Virgin Islands has called for the private and public sector to work together to improve the experience for cruise passengers visiting Charlotte Amalie.
Governor Kenneth Mapp
During the inaugural gathering of the Ports of the Virgin Islands – Charlotte Amalie Task Force on Wednesday, Governor Kenneth Mapp met with members of his cabinet, Senator Neville James – chairman of the 32nd Legislature’s Committee on Economic Development – the local business community and other stakeholders, and called for a holistic working strategy that focuses on “newness and variety” to help spur visitor spending and to develop experiences that will inspire cruise ship passengers to return to the territory both on cruises and stay-over vacations.
The task force, which comprises representatives from retail stores, ground transportation operators, spirits distributors, restaurants, the Virgin Islands Port Authority, the West Indian Company, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Public Works and the Office of the Governor, will produce a communications plan to provide updates on dredging and other major projects that impact residents and the visitor experience, as well as convene a Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA)/Ports of the Virgin Islands town hall meeting early this summer.
The governor called for renewal and revitalization of the St Thomas product so that the destination can regain its position as the premier Caribbean cruise experience.
Together with Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Commissioner of Public Works Gustav James and Commissioner Designee of Property and Procurement Lloyd Bough Jr., the governor updated task force members on the progress towards establishing a harbor transportation service in the Charlotte Amalie Harbor. The proposed service, for which a request for proposal (RFP) is being developed, would link five stops between Crown Bay and the West Indian Company docks and Downtown Charlotte Amalie.
Mapp, who appealed to the business community to recommend innovative ways to engage visitors in onshore activities, said another strategy being pursued is an effort to work with federal officials to ease some of the travel restrictions for neighboring Caribbean nationals wishing to visit the territory.
While task force members expressed support for the objective to improve the visitor experience, some voiced concern about the duration of major road construction projects such as the Main Street renovation and urged the administration to ensure efficient planning and execution.
Meetings of the Ports of the Virgin Islands – Charlotte Amalie Task Force are scheduled to take place on a monthly basis, while discussions with the FCCA will be held quarterly, the first of which is with the FCCA Operations Committee in Miami next week.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Mapp thanked outgoing chief executive officer Joseph Boschulte for his years of service to the West Indian Company and congratulated former Senator Clifford Graham on his appointment as the new CEO. The governor said he looked forward to continuing a strong working relationship with Boschulte, who will assume a senior cruise-related role with the Department of Tourism in the months ahead.