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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsNumber of Cruise Ship Visitors Climbing to One Million, WICO Predicts

Number of Cruise Ship Visitors Climbing to One Million, WICO Predicts

Stephan Adams gave the PFA board an update on the Virgin Islands Next Generation Network on Thursday. (Screenshot from Zoom meeting)

The Public Finance Authority Board of Directors heard reports from Stephan Adams, CEO of Virgin Islands Next Generation Network, and Anthony Ottley, president of West Indian Company, in a public session lasting less than 45 minutes Thursday. The board then went into a two-hour executive session, during which the financial situation of WICO and the ongoing problems with the Water and Power Authority were discussed.

Ottley said numbers indicated that WICO, as far as cruise ships were concerned, was having a “definite bounce back” to pre-COVID levels. He said from the beginning of October to the end of April, 217 ships had visited the dock in Havensight — 12 more than the number in the previous October through April. He added that the number of passengers in the same time frame this fiscal year was 729,000, an increase of 125,000 over the previous October through April time frame. He said the percentage increase in ship visits was almost 6 percent, and the increase in passenger visits was over 20 percent.

He predicted that the number of visitors this fiscal year would reach 972,000 and the number next fiscal year would reach one million.

Adams told the board that viNGN had learned from hurricanes Irma and Maria and it would “not be in the dark” again like it was after those storms. He said the system has been strengthened.

The Next Generation Network is a subsidiary of the Public Finance Authority. Its goal is to provide wholesale broadband middle-mile service to providers and to promote local economic growth, innovation, and global competitiveness.

In 1993, the West Indian Company was sold to the government of the Virgin Islands for $54 million. The mall was sold to the Government Employees’ Retirement System for $32 million. The Public Finance Authority acquired the dock area.

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. chaired the meeting, which was attended by board members Keith O’Neale, Dorothy Isaacs, and Kevin McCurdy.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the cruise ship numbers cited were for the territory. They refer only to ships and passengers visiting the WICO dock and not the territory as a whole, which also has the Crown Bay dock on St. Thomas and the Ann E. Abramson Marine Facility on St. Croix.   

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