A total of 894,991 tourists visited the Virgin Islands during 2019, reaching nearly 80 percent of pre-Irma levels and more than doubling 2018 numbers, Premier Andrew Fahie announced last Thursday in the House of Assembly.
All told, there was a 128 percent increase in visitors in 2019 compared to 2018’s total of 392,864.
After hurricanes Irma and Maria, the territory experienced a major slump in visitors, but now the tourism industry “continues to surge as evidenced by official reports from the government’s Central Statistics Office,” Mr. Fahie said.
In 2016, the territory saw more than 1.2 million visitors, the highest recorded arrivals ever, thanks in large part to the increase in cruise ships that came with the opening of the Tortola Pier Park.
Cruise shippers that year made up 699,105 of the 1.2 million total, while overnighters amounted to 407,764, and there were 17,511 day trippers.
The following year — 2017, when Irma hit in September — there were 334,630 overnight tourists, and cruise ships brought in 409,723 visitors.
The numbers plummeted in 2018, with 192,312 overnighters and 200,552 cruise shippers.
Mr. Fahie did not include the breakdown of types of tourist for 2019 in his statement last week, but he noted that the 2019 total arrival numbers represent 79 per- cent of 2016’s.
In the past decade, 2019 saw the third highest number of visitors, behind 2016 and 2015. In 2015, there were 922,372 visitors.
As far as accommodations go, Mr. Fahie said that there are now 1,606 land-based rooms, “which represent 59 percent of our pre-storm inventory.”
“On the marine side, we have about 4,400 berths on boats, which exceed our pre-storm capacity,” he added.
Prior to Irma, there were 4,370 beds at sea and 2,700 land-based rooms, officials have said.
Mr. Fahie also touted recent accolades, noting that the territory was among the destinations included in The New York Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2020.”
The Soggy Dollar and Hendo’s Hideout on Jost Van Dyke, he added, ranked first and fourth in USAToday’s Readers’Choice Award for “Best Caribbean Beach Bar.”