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Charlotte Amalie
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HomeNewsArchivesBUSINESSES LOOK TO NAVY PORT CALLS FOR HELP

BUSINESSES LOOK TO NAVY PORT CALLS FOR HELP

Sept. 11, 2001 — Frederiksted business owners are hoping that upcoming U.S. Navy port calls will help ease the economic damage caused by the loss of a third of cruise ship arrivals to St. Croix during the winter season.
The Frederiksted Economic Development Association, a private-sector business group, has been assured of 40, and possibly as many as 70, military vessels calling on Frederiksted over the coming year, according to Hugh Dalton, FEDA vice president. Dalton said the first ship is scheduled to arrive Sept. 24 for a four-day stay.
"FEDA would like St. Croix to be known to the international naval community as the port of choice for R&R in the Caribbean," he said. "We need the help of the community to make this a reality."
Dalton is urging businesses to provide FEDA with information so it can distribute "welcome" brochures to military guests that detail activities, services and military discounts.
The hope is that the military port calls will make up some of the projected losses projected from the decrease in cruise ship port calls on St. Croix from 154 last year to just over 100 for 2001-02. The losses occurred because the Holland America line dropped the island from its itinerary and because the Nordic Empress will call every other week rather than weekly.
St. Thomas-St. John has 719 calls scheduled in the coming season, which runs from October to April.
Dalton said that FEDA is projecting that the 18,000 to 20,000 military personnel who will visit St. Croix could generate about $1 million in revenue during the projected 160 to 200 in-port days.
But for that to occur, the safety of the visiting sailors must be assured. About a year ago, Gov. Charles Turnbull met with U.S. Navy officials after a group of officers was robbed on the boardwalk in Christiansted and another crewman was mugged.
The Navy had suspended port calls to the territory in 1993 after dozens of assaults and the murder of an officer on St. Thomas. The incidents caused the Navy to categorize the U.S. Virgin Islands as the most dangerous place in the world for its sailors during peacetime.
It also ended the estimated $16 million a year pumped into the economy by visiting sailors. While former Gov. Roy Schneider convinced the Navy to resume calls to the territory in 1995, the number of visits has not returned to earlier levels.

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