President Obama’s announcement of plans to normalize relations with Cuba has a number of positive implications for relations between the two countries. This change in relationship between the U.S. and Cuba will also come with some challenges.
From an awareness perspective, this announcement will spark renewed interest in the Caribbean region, because there is a curiosity among Americans about Cuba.
The opening of Cuba to travelers from the United States may also create increased competition for visitors to the Caribbean. Though the rest of the world has long had access to visit Cuba, this change could have a significant impact on the U.S. Virgin Islands, where we draw nearly 90 percent of our visitors from the U.S.
For instance, we anticipate the cruise itineraries in the Western Caribbean will begin to call on ports in Cuba. We have to continue to do what we have started to remain competitive – augment our proactive marketing efforts, champion infrastructure enhancements, create appealing attractions, and improve our customer service.
While entrance to Cuba will require American travelers to have a passport, the U.S. Virgin Islands remains an attractive option due to no passport requirement. Furthermore, with English being the primary language of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Americans can becomfortable exploring our islands.
The U.S. Virgin Islands, along with our Caribbean neighbors, is accustomed to competition for tourism spending from emerging destinations. As a Territory, we understand the need to focus on our short- and long-term strategies to build our industry and will continue to invest in the quality and diversity of our product to ensure we remain top of mind among U.S. visitors.
However, the maxim “a rising tide raises all boats” should hold true. This news puts the spotlight on the Caribbean region as a whole, widening the appeal for Caribbean vacations and providing a win-win opportunity for all.
For more information about the United States Virgin Islands, go to VisitUSVI.com, follow us on Twitter (@USVITourism) and become a fan on Facebook (www.facebook.com/VisitUSVI). When traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens enjoy all the conveniences of domestic travel – including on-line check-in – making travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands easier than ever. As a United States Territory, travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require a passport from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens.