Feb. 17, 2005 November 2004 tourism arrivals were up, but only 2.3 percent over November of 2003, Bureau of Economic Research director, Lauritz Mills, announced in a news release issued Wednesday.
A total of 252,030 people visited across the territory, up from 246,709 the year before. Mills said the increase was small because the number of air arrivals fell by 5.6 percent. The number dropped to 52,403 in November 2004 from 55,518 in November 2003.
The number of air arrivals on St. Thomas/St. John went up only .9 percent to 41,608 in November 2004 from 41,242 in November 2003. The numbers for the same period on St. Croix fell by 24.3 percent to 10,795 from 14,266.
The hotel occupancy rate for November 2004 stood at 67.5 percent compared to 57.5 percent the previous November.
On St. Croix, the rate went from 41.6 percent in November 2003 to 54.9 percent in November 2004. In the St. Thomas/St. John district, the number jumped to 71.8 percent in November 2004. In November 2003, it stood at 62.5 percent.
Beverly Nicholson, president of the V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association, said Thursday that November's college basketball tournament, Paradise Jam, really helped St. Thomas' occupancy rate. She said both Marriott Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort and the Wyndham Sugar Bay were filled.
"When the larger hotels are filled, the spillover affects the others," she said.
While an increase in the hotel occupancy rate and a decrease in the number of air arrivals may seem contradictory, Tourism Department marketing director Steve Bornn said that the air arrivals do not include people who take Seaborne Airlines, the ferries between islands, or those who arrive on private planes.
He said the most important number is the hotel occupancy tax, which was up 55 percent in November 2004 over the previous November.
"In business we care about the bottom line," he said Thursday.
The numbers rose to $690,555 in November 2004 over $446,284 the previous November.
The number of cruise ship arrivals went up 4.4 percent to 199,627 in November 2004 from 191,191 in November 2003.
On St. Thomas/St. John, the number stood at 199,627 in November 2004, an increase of 4.4 percent over the 191,191 figure in November 2003.
St. Croix received 10,952 visitors aboard cruise ships in November 2004, the first such visit in six months. No major cruise ships visited in November 2003.
The January through November 2004 overall visitor arrival figures for the territory were up 10.2 percent over the same period the previous year.
While these figures seem like ancient history to residents in the midst of a busy winter season, Mills explained in her press release that the V.I. Port Authority is behind by two months in reporting air arrivals. Additionally, hotels continue to be late with their occupancy reports.
As for this winter season, Nicholson said that people working on the Hovensa catalytic converter maintenance project are filling St. Croix rooms, in addition to the usual winter visitors.
She said the situation looks good across the territory.
"Many nights are sold out," she said.
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