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Tourism Chief Tells U.S. Tourists Territory Is Safe To Visit Despite Delta Variant Surge

MIAMI — Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte was in Florida over the weekend telling reporters that the territory is a model of success in the Caribbean — thanks in large part to the United States.

The U.S. Virgin Islands has access to U.S.-supplied vaccines and much-needed economic relief. Those factors — plus the USVI’s testing, vaccination and mask-wearing requirements for visitors — have given the territory a more COVID-safe image.

“For us in the USVI, people in the hospitality industry seem to be vaccinated at a higher rate than the rest of the community, which of course helps our tourism product because people don’t go on vacation to get sick,” said Joseph Boschulte, the U.S. Virgin Islands tourism commissioner, in an interview with WLRN.

Boschulte wanted to address the COVID virus’ delta variant and how it challenges the U.S. Virgin Islands’ ability to safely retain the non-cruise-ship tourism that had been growing strongly this year, raising St. Croix’s hotel occupancy to 90% recently.

“The situation is fluid,” Boschulte conceded. “With the new information we’re receiving, we’re very concerned that we don’t get complacent — because as important as protecting public health, we also have to keep the islands alive.”

Because of the delta surge in the Caribbean and the U.S. — which Boschulte said has raised the daily number of new cases in the U.S. Virgin Islands in recent weeks — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has ordered schools there to open virtually this month and not in person.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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