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St. Thomas (Rock City) Celebrates World Tourism Day Today

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The official celebration of the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) World Tourism Day 2021 (September 27), around the theme “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”, resonates particularly well in the territory.

Especially because of the rich diversity of our peoples and the colorful tapestry of history woven throughout the centuries by the aspirations of several colonial powers who sailed thousands of miles away from their home countries to our shores.

We in the USVI take every opportunity to celebrate our glorious heritage. By ensuring our tourism is developed in a way which benefits all people in the Territory and educates visitors to our homeland. Inclusive development for us also means that the enhancement and conservation of our fabulous ecological assets are very much part of our tourism development. In addition, we preserve and promote relics of colonialism which provide information-rich markers in our development.

The inclusivity of our tourism development approaches is embedded in all that we do because it is the greatest job creator in our islands. Additionally, the inclusivity of our visitor industry makes it our most potent weapon in combating poverty as well as providing us an effective means of ensuring the socioeconomic inclusion of vulnerable groups.

The climatic disasters which lash our Territory occasionally have shown us in graphically tragic terms how they have hit all parts of our communities without discrimination. So, our recovery activities have to be inclusive to be totally effective and to provide us a platform for restoring our lives in the wake of disasters.

Challenge of COVID-19

Likewise, the COVID-19 pandemic posed the biggest challenges our tourism sector has ever confronted, shattering the hospitality sector which employs so many of our residents: jobs were lost, medical costs piled up and the ever-present threat of infection distressed our populace.

Fortunately, our government moved quickly to protect struggling families and worked closely with the private sector to rebuild economic opportunities for our people.

Working with all tourism stakeholders we also assured those whose plans to visit the Territory were disrupted by the pandemic that our inclusive development strategies for our destination would ensure their dreams of relaxing and rejuvenating in pristine Caribbean waters and the lush environment of the USVI will be realized.

Gratitude

On this World Tourism Day, allow us to extend gratitude to the many people and organizations which have contributed to the success of the restart and resurgence of our bread-and-butter tourism as we continue to balance the importance of protecting lives as well as the livelihoods of Virgin Islanders.

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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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