Visitors to the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) will be exposed to a destination with multiple island experiences, said the islands’ Commissioner of Tourism, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, at a reception with travel agents and the media last week in Toronto.
The USVI comprises St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John and Water Island.
A former Caribbean Tourism Organization chairman, Nicholson-Doty said the USVI appeals to travellers because of its uniqueness as one territory with three major islands and the 490-acre Water Island – a primary military outpost during World War II – which was ceded to the USVI in 1996.
“There are plans to build a resort there,” said Nicholson-Doty. “We are extremely excited about that because it’s a wonderful little island right in the harbour of Charlotte Amalie.”
St. Croix, measuring 84 square miles and the birthplace of National Basketball Association (NBA) five-time champion Tim Duncan and retired NBA player Raja Bell, is the largest of the islands.
“If you want to take a step back in history and experience authentic flavours, this is the place for you,” she said. “It’s really a place where you can step back in history and enjoy seeing someone operate a coalpot and frying a johnny cake. You can also see someone actually making jewellery.”
Last December, the USVI Department of Tourism collaborated with the St. Croix Landmarks Society to establish a “living museum experience” at the Estate Whim Museum, the island’s restored 18th century plantation.
Demonstrations and interactive activities featuring “traditional Cruzan experiences” reflecting the island’s historic crafts, cuisine and lifestyle will be available to land-based, overnight vacationers, cruise-ship visitors and St. Croix residents under the new program.
Charlotte Amalie is the USVI capital located in St. Thomas, which is one of the busiest cruise ship ports in the Caribbean. The island also offers the finest in jewellery and watches.
“Whenever Breitling introduces a new watch, it’s done in St. Thomas,” said Nicholson-Doty. “They sell more watches in St. Thomas than in any other place in the world.”
The second oldest synagogue under the American flag, which was declared a national historic landmark in 1997 and the Emile Griffith Ballpark in downtown Charlotte Amalie, which is a reminder of the late world boxing champion who was known for his elegance and lightning speed in the ring, are feature attractions in St. Thomas.
The USVI has a population of 110,000 and it’s estimated that nearly 55 per cent of its nationals reside outside the territory.
“We recognize there is an incredible opportunity for people that are from USVI to come back home,” said Nicholson-Doty.