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April Tourism Numbers Provide Mixed Signals

July 13, 2006 – St. Thomas' Carnival celebration in April gave a boost to the number of visitors arriving in the territory, indicated the Economic Research Bureau in a press release issued Wednesday.
"It always does, without a doubt," Tourism Department spokesman Steve Bornn said Thursday.
He said it's not possible to differentiate between conventional visitors arriving at that time and those with V.I. ties who are coming for Carnival.
"We welcome all, and particularly those that stay in hotels," he said.
The total number of people visiting the territory in April grew by 20.4 percent to 74,989 from the previous April, which registered 67,910 visitors.
The numbers went up thanks to an increase in the number arriving by air.
The hotel occupancy rate went up slightly to 71.5 percent, from 68.7 percent the previous April.
However, the revenue collected by the government from the 8 percent hotel occupancy tax fell to $1.7 million in April compared to $2.3 million in April 2005.
While the dollar figure fell, the number of room nights occupied in April went up to 103,128, from 100,442 the previous April.
Bornn said he had no explanation for why the dollars fell as the numbers rose. Lauritz Mills of the Economic Research Bureau said she suspects the numbers are incorrect because there are reporting problems with the hotels.
The number of air arrivals across the territory grew by 10.4 percent to 74,989 from 67,910 in April 2005.
Both the St. Thomas/St. John district and St. Croix had an increase in April air arrivals. The number in the St. Thomas/St. John district grew by 12 percent from 60,857 to 54,330. St. Croix saw an increase for the first time this year, with a 4.1 percent increase. The number grew to 14,132 from 13,580.
The number of cruise ship passengers across the territory fell by 8.4 percent to 199,281 from 217,549 the previous April.
The number of cruise ships docking in the territory also fell by nearly 20 percent, with 85 calling this April compared to 105 last April.
In the St. Thomas/St. John district, the number of cruise ship passengers visiting fell by 8.6 percent over the previous April. The number dropped to 198,878 from 217,549 in April 2005. However, St. Croix saw an increase of 7.3 percent in April, with 6,896 people disembarking from cruise ships in April.
Bornn said he doesn't know why the cruise numbers fell in St. Thomas/St. John.
"I'm concerned with the overall picture – the bottom line. Look at the increase in performance for St. Croix," he said.
West Indian Co. Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Edward Thomas could not be reached for comment.
Visitors arriving for St. Thomas Carnival helped boost the district's hotel occupancy rate to 76.4 percent, up slightly from 72.2 percent last April. In St. Croix, the hotel occupancy rate dropped a bit to 55.9 percent from 57.4 percent.
Between January and April, the number of people visiting the territory fell by 8.4 percent over the same period the previous year. In 2006, the number stood at 1.1 million. The number of air visitors dropped by a fraction, just 0.4 percent, but the number of cruise ship passengers fell by 11.1 percent.
In this four-month period, the number of hotel guests rose by 32.5 percent over the same period in 2005.
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