The Department of Tourism (D.O.T.) said Friday that airlines serving the territory are satisfied with their route performance and some are looking forward to increasing capacity to the islands in the months ahead.
Speaking at the conclusion of the 12th Routes Americas conference in Québec, D.O.T. Commissioner Nominee Joseph Boschulte said the conference presented the destination with an opportunity to update airline partners on the progress the islands have made since the hurricanes of 2017. Airline executives were especially interested in learning of the reopening of several hotels as well as the uptick in Airbnb accommodations and villa rentals across the territory as part of the wider accommodations landscape in the Virgin Islands, according to the release.
“We also had an opportunity to speak about our larger accommodations properties which are expected to come back on line later this year as well as next year,” is said to have reported, explaining that as the destination positions itself for the next winter season, “at a minimum, we must maintain pre-hurricane airlift into both St. Thomas and St. Croix.”
According to the release, during the three-day route development forum for the Americas, the commissioner nominee met with carriers currently serving the territory, including American Airlines, Cape Air, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, LIAT, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines, and held discussions with Sun Country Airlines about its potential return from Minneapolis. He also connected with Allegiant and Southwest Airlines to begin the dialogue about potential future airlift development.
“This was an extremely important and cost-effective meeting to connect with so many airline partners,” said Mr. Boschulte, who, along with fellow conference delegates, was subjected to sub-zero temperatures and back-to-back winter storms during his travels. “It was important to be here because our competition is here … and in order to be an effective player in the tourism space in 2019, you have to be visible and you have to promote why people should choose to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands over any other place in the world.”
Routes Americas connects senior decision makers from the region’s leading airlines, airports and tourism authorities to discuss new market opportunities and the evolution of existing services, and encourages the building of high-value relationships with some of the most influential aviation professionals from across the region, the release said.
The D.O.T head said the department plans to embark on a strategy to drive greater business from cities in the Midwest region of the United States, including Chicago and Minneapolis, and will update the industry and the community on strong capacity scheduled for the destination over the summer, from cities such as Atlanta, Houston, New York and Washington, D.C.
Feature Image: Joseph Boschulte with Ben Brookman, Vice President of Network Planning and Revenue Management of Sun Country Airlines (Credit: D.O.T.)