U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS ATTENDS ROUTES AMERICAS CONVENTION IN CHICAGO SkyHigh Dominica’s announces new flights between Santo Domingo and St. Thomas weekly U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS (March 24, 2023) – The United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism just concluded a very successful three days of discussions with top executives at the Routes Americas airline forum in Chicago this week that brought together over 500 attendees from the air service industry in the Americas. From March 21 to March 23, Routes Americas 2023 created a valuable platform for senior decision makers to meet face to face, discuss, and develop air services in the region. The USVI tourism team, led by Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte, arrived at the convention as strong leaders in their region presenting information and data about the strategic advantages for airlines to work with the territory. The team spoke with senior decision makers from the 15 different airlines, including American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, and Frontier as well as four airports, such as Philadelphia International Airport and Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport. Commissioner Boschulte said, “it was a fast-paced, serious, and successful opportunity to further cement our relationships and business with important airlines and airports. For the past three years, the USVI has been working fervently to increase flights to the USVI. Expanded air traffic has been one of the lynch pins to our incredible tourism recovery during and after the pandemic. Our February occupancy was 75.2% which was higher than the overall Caribbean at 73.6%. We hope, and expect, to continue this trend this year.” The Routes meetings focused on growth strategies, encouraging new gateways in high demand markets, adding capacity on existing routes, and above all, maintaining the high yields the market is currently experiencing. Airline feedback emphasized the continued growth in capacity leading into the winter schedules. Currently traffic is up by 33% between continental U.S. and St. Thomas even though the average fare is the highest it has been in recent years. Even though the industry is dealing with resource shortages, including pilots and planes, core and new carriers were very bullish on the future for the USVI. The Department of Tourism’s specific market analysis and data was very well-received by the airlines and they were impressed by the preparation done by the team, which in turn, bolstered excitement for the continuation of the strong performance the Territory is currently experiencing. Already the U.S. Virgin Islands has seen a significant increase in airlifts to the destination in the last three years, with a 21 percent rise in nonstop flights from the U.S. in 2022 compared to 2019. Currently, there are 415 weekly flights into the USVI with a passenger load of 29,369 people. Non-stop flights to St. Thomas are available out of New York, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia, Fort Lauderdale, Washington DC, Houston, Chicago, Orlando and Charlotte while non-stop flights to St Croix go to and from Charlotte, Miami, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale. All together, 21 daily non-stop flights to the USVI from the states. On March 22nd, SkyHigh Dominica announced two new flights between Dominican Republic’s Las Americas International Airport (SDQ) at Santo Domingo and U.S Virgin Islands’ Cyril E. King Airport (STT) on St. Thomas each week. Commissioner Boschulte said, “Along with my colleague, Carlton Dowe, the Executive Director of the U.S. Virgin Islands Port Authority, we are delighted with the new SkyHigh Dominica biweekly flights into the territory. These two flights each week will enhance visitors’ experiences of both destinations, increasing their access and flexibility especially in planning their vacations in the Caribbean. Of course, this also will help local businesses and partnerships as well as families who are visiting relatives and friends throughout the Caribbean. It is a win-win for the Dominican Republic, the U.S. Virgin Islands and entire Caribbean.” The Department of Tourism is not resting on its laurels however and is still pulling out all of the stops to attract visitors to the territory. The opening of two properties with 478 units on St. Thomas including the Westin Beach Resort & Spa and the Seaborn at Frenchman’s Reef; the Sugar Bay Club and Resort Corporation with 294 units; and the Pink Palms Boutique with 27 new units are helping to boost demand. About the U.S. Virgin Islands The U.S. Virgin Islands are an official U.S. territory in the Caribbean that consist of three individual islands – St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. Perfect for leisure or business travel, the U.S. Virgin Islands are rich with culture, history, surrounded by breathtaking beaches. When traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens can enjoy all the conveniences of domestic travel as no passport is required for U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the United States. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are equivalent to entering the United States from any international country. Upon departure, a passport is required for non U.S. citizens. For more information about the United States Virgin Islands, go to VisitUSVI.com, follow us on Instagram (@visitusvi) and Twitter (@usvitourism), and become a fan on Facebook (www.facebook.com/VisitUSVI).