July 2, 2004 – The total number of visitors to the territory in April was up 8 percent over the previous April, Bureau of Economic Research director Lauritz Mills said in a release issued this week.
Hotel occupancy for April also was significantly higher — 71 percent territorywide compared to 57.1 percent a year earlier — she said.
The April 2004 figures break down to occupancy rates of 75.2 percent in the St. Thomas-St. John district and 56.7 percent on St. Croix. In April 2003, the rates were 69.9 percent for St. Thomas/St. John and 46.9 percent for St. Croix.
"April through June was higher than forecast on St. Thomas and St. John, but St. Croix hasn't seen any significant increase," Beverly Nicholson, president of the V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association, said.
She said that, as is expected during the summer season, the number of visitors arriving at St. Thomas and St. John hotels is now starting to fall off. Things are even slower on St. Croix, she said, adding: "St. Croix is not having a good year."
Mills said air arrivals outperformed cruise passenger arrivals in terms of rate of increase over last year, mainly because of the number of visitors who flew to St. Thomas for V.I. Carnival this year. Also, she noted, the number of people taking cruises drops in the spring from the winter-season highs.
April air arrivals territorywide were up 29.2 percent over April 2003, Mills said, with 70,655 people arriving this year compared to 54,704 a year earlier.
Both districts saw an upswing in April 2004 air arrivals over the previous year, with St. Croix recording the bigger increase. Arrivals at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport nearly tripled — to 13,100 in April 2004 compared to 4,532 in April 2003. At Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas, arrivals rose 14.7 percent, to 57,555 from 50,172.
April's cruise ship arrivals were up 2 percent over a year earlier in the St. Thomas-St. John district, with a total of 185,792 disembarking.
Cumulative figures for January through April of this year show 1.1 million visitors arriving in the territory during the busiest months of the year in terms of tourism. This is up 10.2 percent over the previous year. Most of the growth was from cruise ship arrivals, which grew by 11 percent to 845,294 from 761,102, Mills said.
Mills did not return telephone calls requesting comment.
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