Home News Local news Cruise and Air Arrivals Down, Hotel Occupancy Up

Cruise and Air Arrivals Down, Hotel Occupancy Up


Sept. 28, 2005 – For the second month in a row, the number of cruise ship passengers visiting the territory declined by double-digit percentages over the same month the previous year.
According to Bureau of Economic Development statistics released Tuesday, July saw a 23.5 percent drop in the number of cruise ship passengers visiting the St. Thomas/St. John district over the same month last year. The number fell to 94,655 from 123,655 in July 2004.
The number of cruise ships visiting in July fell to 29 from the 40 that visited in July 2004.
No cruise ships called on St. Croix during this July or the previous July.
The number of visitors arriving by cruise ships fell by 21.7 percent in June compared to June 2004. A total of 99,201 cruise ship passengers arrived this June compared to 126,643 the previous June.
Bureau director Lauritz Mills in early September said in a press release that the drop came because cruise ship lines were interested in visiting Asian destinations during the summer months. She could not be reached Wednesday for further comment.
West Indian Co. president Edward Thomas also could not be reached for comment. However, WICO announced in March it anticipated a drop in cruise passenger arrivals over the summer months because ships were headed to Asia.
The drop in cruise ship arrivals caused the total number of visitors to the territory to drop by 18.1 percent in July over the previous July. In June, the figures dropped 13.5 percent over the previous June.
July air arrivals were also down in the St. Thomas/St. John district, but only by 0.6 percent. The total number of visitors arriving by air was 48,090 for July, a slight drop from the 48,401 that arrived last July.
However, the number of air arrivals rose on St. Croix by 8.7 percent, an upswing Mills credits to the return of Delta Airlines flights and the addition of two U.S. Airways flights per week. Arrivals rose to 13,643 this July as compared to last year's 12,555.
While the total number of visitors fell, hotel occupancy rates across the territory rose to 69.6 percent from 62.8 percent in July 2004. St. Thomas/St. John had a rate of 72.9 percent this July versus 67.2 percent last July. St. Croix's number came in at 59.7 percent as compared with last year's 49.2 percent.
Mills said in the press release that the total number of visitor arrivals are up 2.2 percent for the January to July period compared to the same time period last year. A total of 1.7 million people visited the territory from January to July this year compared to 1.6 million for the same seven months last year.
The number of guests visiting hotels from Europe went up 44 percent over the previous January to July time period. Those from South America went up 39 percent; from Canada by 15.3 percent; from Central America by 13.3 percent, and from the Caribbean, excluding Puerto Rico, by 5.7 percent.
Tourism Department spokesman Steve Bornn said Wednesday that the territory is particularly attractive to European and Canadian visitors because of the weak U.S. dollar. Additionally, he said department's aggressive marketing efforts are now paying off.
"But they don't work overnight. We're seeing the residual effect," he said.
Visitation from Puerto Rico fell by 4.7 percent while guest registration by people from the U.S. mainland remained the same.

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