GITTENS SAYS: USVI Needs Bigger Ships And New Attractions … Like Sint Maarten Already Did
MIAMI — Demand for culturally relevant and eco-tourism attractions continues to grow and the territory must do more to support their development, Senate President Kenneth Gittens said on Tuesday.
During the second full day of the 2019 Seatrade Cruise Global Conference, key industry players spoke to international tourism’s new dynamics and growing trends and put destinations on notice that they must be poised for those changes.
The Virgin Islands has the ability to develop more cultural and eco-tourism activities and capture this expanding market.
“Having the opportunity to hear directly from the executives of different cruise lines, we have the ability to posture ourselves and our infrastructure to fit the changing industry,” Gittens said. “The President of the Cruise Line International Association, Kelly Craighead, said today that the executives of her membership are keenly aware of how important the cruise industry is in creating jobs and strengthening the economies of their ports of call. We need to train and grow our workforce and open new avenues to jobseekers and entrepreneurs. I believe that an expanding cruise ship industry is a sure way to strengthen and diversify the economy of St. Croix.”
But not everyone accepted the Senate President’s comments at face value. Some said that St. Croix senators are sticking their heads in the sand when it comes to tourism here.
“They need to fly to the Bahamas & get some tips,” Sheba Young of Christiansted said. “Sick of our boring ass senators….Stx is behind in times cant they see chuppppssss.”
Juanita Morain agree with Young.
“Sheba Young so right what we saw in Bahamas we should be ashamed we are so behind,” Morain wrote on Facebook.
The conference’s keynote address was presented on the State of the Industry. The speakers addressed the trend of increasingly bigger ships and how that impacts the perception of what ports are adequate.
“The dynamics of the cruise ship industry and the view of what is an ideal destination are changing based on the sizes of the ships,” he said. “It was discussed during the conference that by 2021 there will be 50 more cruise ships on the seas and oceans around the world looking for additional ports to frequent. Now is the time to boost our plans for the Territory so that we can be a prime destination.”
The conference’s trade show and expo floor opened this week, featuring 800 exhibitors from more than 80 countries. The U.S. and British Virgin Islands were present, showcasing some of what our region has to offer on the expo floor, he said.
“We still have a lot of work to do to develop and expand our tourism product to ensure a safe and memorable experience for all our visitors,” Gittens said.
The 33rd Legislature’s delegation at Seatrade 2019 includes: Senate President Gittens, Senator Kurt Vialet, Senator Oakland Benta, Senator Stephen Payne, Senator Athniel “Bobby” Thomas and Senator Myron Jackson.