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HomeNewsArchivesSeptember Tourism Stats Set New Record, But Long-Term Numbers Down Slightly

September Tourism Stats Set New Record, But Long-Term Numbers Down Slightly

Dec. 11, 2006 — An increase in the number of cruise-ship passengers made it the strongest September on record for the territory's tourism industry, the Bureau of Economic Research said Friday.
However, the number of visitors flying in dropped, according to news release from the bureau.
The total number of visitors increased 32.6 percent over the previous September, with the number of cruise-ship passengers rising 46.5 percent over September 2005. The number of cruise ships calling rose to 38 from 25 the previous year.
Ships are bigger this year than last, which added to the increase in passengers, said Steve Bornn, marketing director for the Department of Tourism.
"And there's more of a demand, due in part to the tourism department's overall marketing," he said. In addition, he said, cruise lines are able to position their ships so they visit the Eastern Caribbean, which includes the Virgin Islands.
Visitors arriving by air across the territory went down 7.3 percent, but Bornn said the figure doesn't alarm him. Early forecasts of dire hurricanes by William Gray at Colorado State University convinced air visitors to stay home, Bornn said.
"I personally don't like it," he said of Gray's predictions, "but they're good for people who live in the H zone."
Slower visitation during hurricane season convinces many hotels and restaurants to close in September to refurbish their properties, Bornn said. In September, a total of 131,092 people visited the territory, 32,203 more than visited last September. A total of 107,313 of those people were cruise-ship passengers. Only 23,799 people arrived by air.
Air arrivals to St. Croix dropped by 16.4 percent over the previous September, with the numbers to St. Thomas-St. John falling by 4 percent.
The hotel-occupancy rate dropped slightly across the territory to 35.8 percent, compared to 39.2 percent last September. The hotel-occupancy rate for St. Thomas-St. John rose slightly to 39.5 percent, compared to 35.6 percent last September. St. Croix's rate went down to 36.4 percent this year compared to 38.5 percent in September 2005.
Room revenues across the territory dropped to $916,983, compared to $925,954 the previous September.
The total number of visitors for the first nine months of 2006 is down very slightly. So far this year, 1.9 million visitors have arrived. In the same period last year, 1.92 people visited the territory.
A total of 1.37 million cruise-ship passengers visiting during the first nine months of this year, nearly equal to the 1.38 million who arrived in the same period last year.
The total number of cruise ships visiting fell by 5.1 percent compared to 2005, for a total of 562 in the first nine months of 2006.
Air visitors dropped by 1 percent to 528,303 from 533,550 for the first nine months of 2005.
The hotel-occupancy rate sagged slightly to 62.8 percent for the first nine months of 2006 compared to 66.1 percent during the same period in 2005.
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