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“Tourism Is All of Us”


Dear Source:
Often when people think of the impacts of increased tourists to the islands, they only think of the volume of people on our shores and perhaps the congestion that they see on Main Street or in Havensight. However, each time a visitor comes off a cruise ship or an airplane, they are helping a household and a business in the Virgin Islands. I am President of a local ferry company that provides services between the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, as well as, shuttle service from the cruise ships to downtown Charlotte Amalie and Cruz Bay.
We have seen a number of industries close or relocate from our islands in the past decade, but the one constant that has remained is tourism. I am thankful to the Department of Tourism and all the other entities that work diligently to keep the tourists coming to the Virgin Islands because it means that my business can continue to operate, and my staff can continue to have a place to work. The recent news that we might be able to accommodate larger cruise ships is a breath of fresh air for those of us who depend on this industry for our bread and butter. Let’s look at it from my perspective – when tourists spend their dollars on a local business to take a tour to the BVI or to St. John, they enable me to maintain the upkeep of my vessels, which also provide services to the local residents. Those dollars then go into payroll for my staff, who can then circulate those dollars back into the economy. I look at the increase in tourists as a good thing for the community as a whole because we have to build upon what is already working for us. It means that those of us in business must plan ahead and plan accordingly to accommodate the growth.
Knowing that a greater number of cruise passengers will be coming to St. Thomas enables me to plan ahead for my fleet, to see how I can prepare my business for the future. It also means that I can provide a bit of job security to the members of my team, who in turn can plan for their families. The alternative is not one that I wish to consider. There is a slogan that says “Tourism is All of Us,” and I do believe that this is true. Whether or not we see the value in this industry, it is a foundation for the way we live and work in this territory. I, for one, welcome the new pier, and the promise it brings for all of us.
James F. Smith — President, Native Son Inc.


  1. Speaking of tourism, below is a letter I wrote to Senator Blyden about the general condition of our roads and specifically the road serving Coki Point. Disgraceful that tourists have to see this. Let’s fix what’s broke now.

    Dear Mr. Chairman Blyden,

    My wife and I are on St Thomas since July 2014 as caretakers and hosts of a large villa in Estate Mafolie. We love our new home for the most part. One part we dislike is the condition of the main roads, especially ones tourists use a lot to visit the many beautiful places and beaches we have to offer. It does not show our island in a very good light.

    One particular road is the one leading into Coki Beach and point. I’m sure you are aware of the water covering the road where vehicles and taxis have to traverse to get to Coki, Coral World and such. It is actually kind of scary. It is also a disgrace this issue has not been resolved as I understand it has been this way for a long time.

    We visited Coki beach last Sunday and of course had to drive through the water and very potted and rough roadway – almost impassable. In addition, we saw several pedestrians having to try to find a way across this “pond” of water. I since learned these walkers were waiters on the beach – walking to work, trying to make a living. What a shame they have to put up with these conditions just to try to earn a living. And this includes the taxis full of tourists!

    As Chairman of the COMMITTEE ON HOUSING, PUBLIC WORKS & WASTE MANAGEMENT, I urge you to get this very bad road condition issue resolved. I look forward to your reply describing your plan of action for resolution.

    Thank you,

    Richard Arnold
    Silk Cotton Villa
    Estate Mafolie


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