US Airways Takes Off
Today's (Feb 01) Avis reports that as of Feb 03 US Airways will cease operations on St Croix due to low passenger traffic. So, we're down to Atlanta and Miami non-stop to the mainland. We should be concentrating harder on getting more non-stop flights to the island from the mainland and even beyond (anyone remember the Danish charter?) than on the cruise ships. If Delta pulls out that leaves us with just American to Miami. Hope ýou're not planning on going to Charlotte anytime soon.
Very sad news...
If we have more cruise ships coming to the island then there would be more people wanting to come back on a regular vacation basis, which will lead to a more air traffic request. Without that people have no idea that the island exists...
I can't believe this!!! We're looking on the USAIrways website now, at our booking for a non-rev flight to St Croix from Charlotte, and it's still has flight information available. It looks as if they're still flying there according to this???
Where did this information come from???
us is no longer coming here. Some us customs friends comfirmed it to me yesterday
olga: Be very careful about what you wish for... St Croix should be marketed as a non-cruise destination. Land based visitors are getting less enthralled with rubbing elbows with them, as are many who live in cruise destinations.
Dear East Ender,
I understand what you mean, but without tourists half of the people won't be its residents.
I quote the ST Croix Avis dated Thursday, February 1, 2007.
"US Airways is ceasing service to St Croix, with their last flight scheduled for February 3. Calls to the airline confirmed that flights are stopping."
While US Airways may continue to offer STX as a code share from San Juan, it won't be non-stop from Charlotte anymore. Losing an airline is not good.
Is US Airways still flying for people who have already bought tickets to STX? . My mother is supposed to fly on Feb. 10th
But over here on St Thomas, the overnight guests are the ones who 1. shop, 2. go to restaurants, 3. go on tours (not the ones sponsored by the cruise ships), 4. want to learn about the VI, etc. The part-time residents additionally buy at K-Mart, Home Depot, MSI. The cruise ship people go back to the ship for lunch and complain that at home they can buy stuff cheaper at Wall Mart. (If you are a cruise ship person reading this, I apologize!)
I know that there are some highly annoying people among the hoards of cruise ship visitors, but I enjoy shopping downtown and have met many really lovely cruise ship passengers.
Just the other day I was rubbing elbows with a very nice cruise ship passenger at Little Switzerland who special ordered nearly two thousand dollars worth of Herend China while we were chatting. This was her third trip to St. Thomas and she is a huge crystal and china collector. She was telling me about all the fine china and crystal she had purchased on her previous trips as well.
During one of my PMV's, a lovely couple from a cruise ship helped me chose and purchase a digital camera from Royal Caribbean before purchasing several hundred dollars worth of electronics for themselves.
Frankly, there are a lot shops in the touristy areas of STT that sell cheap, chintzy, low end goods, that look like they should be in a WalMart (or worse). For the prices they want for this junk, I can empathize with the some of the negative comparisons to Wal Mart......................
One other tidbit regarding cruise ship passengers.
According to the Bureau of Economic Research, cruise ship passgengers spend "$273 per passenger, the highest spending in the Caribbean."
Conservatively estimating a million cruise ship visitors per year, that translates into $273 million dollars per year being pumped into the local economy. I seriously doubt that the island can attract or accommodate enough overnight visitors to even remotely rival these numbers.
Here is an article from the Source regarding tourist spending. I think there is a more recent one. I will try to find it:
mell: I know that there are terrific cruisers. My original note to olga was that there are other ways to develop tourism on an island. Anguilla has resisted cruise ships (and yachts too) and has done well. The BVI did for a long time, but have fallen into the mold. I have read the statistics, but I have also heard the grumbling- some of it quite justified IMHO, for example about taxi prices. The cruise industry has done a great job of getting the prices down so that anyone can go on a cruise. But many of the ships attract people who do not buy a thing during their trip. If you read the cruise boards, you can see what some of them do to save a buck. Heck, they don't buy a thing while they are on the ship. I would like to know what the overnight visitors spend- they rent cars, they buy meals, they take day trips, etc. Granted some of them seem to have this thing about bringing their own food, but...I'll bet they spend more than $273.
There are very few places that are cruise-ship free, and it seems that it could be a great advertising campaign.
What I am trying to say is that people who go on the cruise and stop by particular islands, 80% of them come back to that island as a normal tourists because they fall in love with the island. Cruise ships only allow you to stay on the island of maximum 8 hours and that is not enough. I was among one of the "come-back-from-the-cruise" people and I even purchased a small studio.
While a "friend" was in a store recently, a cruise ship passenger was asking the sales clerk where he could buy lunch for less than $6.00 and when when she answered that might be difficult he replyed with "I'm on a cruise ship where all my food is free so I should not have to pay for food here (St John) either"
Sounds like our Danish tourist here...lol...but they dont have the cruise ship as an excuse.
I agree, there are people that love cruises just because for 500 dollars they can eat 24/7 all they want for 7 days. I, myself, took one of the least expensive cruise lines (don't want to mention names) with my ex-husband and would never-ever want to spend my vacation the same way again. Every day we saw about 30 people sitting in a small hot tub on the ship deck pounding greasy pizza from one hand and a big mac from the other, while french fries were swimming in between of their 400 pound bodies in the hot tub...These people never even took off from the boat while normal people were touring the island. BUT, there people who wants to see the islands and there are no other way to do so. Very few airlines fly to STX and you can't book a hotel unless you deposit half of your savings account first. Something needs to be done, unfortunately, destinations like Caribbean islands depend on their economy because of the tourism flow. People (normal people) who go on a cruise will come back and maybe with some friends and families. What other options are there for STX? Of course we can promote "all inclusive" packages just like Mexico, but first there no chain hotels on the island and only small boutiques. Second, what is better, "cheap cruisers" or "all inclusive drunk college kids" running around the island.
Maybe if we can concentrate on one theme, GOLF for example and bring ships with golfers not eaters to the island...Any other opinions?
I think you will find that if the tourism trade is able to be increased in any form, what will follow is more shopping, more jobs,better economy,and a larger demand to come to the island,thus increasing....flights! (original topic).
ST. CROIX - US Airways will temporarily suspend service on St. Croix between May and December, when demand for seats is most lacking, acting Tourism Commissioner Monique Sibilly-Hodge said in a prepared statement released Friday....
According to this article, service will only be suspended between May 5th and December 15, 2007.
I personally visited St. Croix the first time on a cruise ship and my experience on the island that day placed it up high on the list of places I would go back to for a longer vacation and possibly to live full time. Eight years later I did return here to live. I still enjoy cruising because of the opportunity it allows to taste test various islands to find out if they are to your liking before you commit to a week or more based in one location. Some islands get added to my list of places I wish to visit again for a longer vacation and others I wouldn't go back to a second time.
St. Croix isn't to everyone's tastes but it suits others quite well. Cruise ship tourists include both those who need to be led by the hand through excursions to enjoy an island and also those who want to dig in and explore an island's culture and local activities rather than join in a cattle boat ride out to go snorkeling with a couple hundred others from their cruise ship. I believe that those among the visitors who want a more real experience on an island will find St. Croix to be worth coming back to a second time.
Even so, I wouldn't want STX to have the quantity of cruise ships that STT gets. One or two ships per WEEK would be my preference. That would bring in some tourist $$ to the small businesses, excursion companies, taxis, beach bars and souvenir shops to help the local population but wouldn't wipe out the quality of life and flavor of the island for residents or land-based visitors. I think we all could cope with having one or two days each week when we knew that the more popular beaches and beach bars would be crowded with cruise ship tourists since we'd still have those beaches to ourselves the rest of the week. The benefit to the island would IMHO outweigh that small inconvenience.
With several large hotel chains now pursuing permits to construct on the island (and hundreds of acres of land in large development parcels going under contract in the past couple of weeks to developers), it is just a matter of time before the tourism industry is going to increase. Incoming flights will increase to fill the demand for transportation to get the tourists to those new hotels.
As STX becomes more developed in its tourism industry, cruise lines will wake up and take another look at coming here once more. It's bound to happen once the infrastructure is in place to entertain the masses that a cruise ship brings. The only question is the timing. It might be wise of the island and the tourism board to develop a long range plan for what they WANT to have happen and steer things in that direction rather than just try to cope with what comes along. If no effort is made to plan the growth, we will wind up with a mess and probably many more cruise ships than anyone here really wants. If they can set a limit on how many ships will be allowed and on which days, it might create more of an environment in the future when the cruise lines are the ones asking to come instead of the island begging them to come.
Very good point.
Where did you find the information about the chain hotels and new developments, I know one company that is trying but has a tough time finding financing.
olga - my husband and I talk frequently with some of the people at the building permits office, developers, managers and owners of Carambola and the Buccaneer, etc. and we hear about many of the various inquiries from the major hotel chains who are seeking to open resort hotels here if they can get the whole package put together. We also do business with Warren Mosler and he is a wealth of information on what is happening with the financial movers and shakers who are interested in STX. Warren himself buys lots of land on the island with an eye to the future. One of my husband's businesses refuels aircraft, and we've had a few private jets come in with people looking to buy and develop in the islands. There has been such a large increase in this kind of activity that even if only 5% of it results in finished product, we will be seeing a boom in the quantity of new development on the island. Hopefully the quality will also be there!
I also see the activity in the MLS and there has been a HUGE amount of activity in the past few weeks where large land parcels have gone under contract after sitting on the market for several years in some cases. Others went under contract within a day or two of coming on the market. This shows that there are developers lurking and starting to make their moves to acquire land for development now or in the future. Just this morning there were three more parcels noted as having gone Pending over the weekend with a total of more than 100 acres involved and listing prices totaling more than $10M.
While not all of the prospective development will occur, I've recently heard about at least six hotel possibilities, three or four more golf course possibilities, several casino hopefuls, as well as other developers hoping to put in housing tracts. This could indeed become a major Caribbean golfing island if that many golf course resorts are constructed. The simple fact that STX has thousands of acres of untouched land while so many other islands are already overdeveloped makes it easy to see why developers might like the chance to get their hands on some land here with slopes that are easy to build upon at a bargain price instead of paying many times more for the remaining small, steep pieces available elsewhere. Of course, they will have to beat their heads against the wall for a while to get through the beaurocracy that has stymied so many past development efforts on STX. There have already been some changes made at the building permit office since the new governor took office, so we may be moving into a climate where developers are greeted at least with friendliness if not with totally open arms.
Thank you for your response Alexandra,
I really hope that some "nice" developers take a part in it.
When I was on the island, we took a walk down the beach and we started our walk from Sugar Beach, it was so sad to see all the ruins of basically what used to be mansions, right on the beach! Wild animals were running around and we saw some homeless people... just sad. Who owns all the destroyed houses and land in there do you know?
Alexandra, I've sent you an email..
us airways has been pulling out earlier and earlier each year during the hurricane season, and coming back later and later into the "tourist" season. i wouldn't be surprised to see them gone over the course of the next couple years.
as for the comment:
"While US Airways may continue to offer STX as a code share from San Juan, it won't be non-stop from Charlotte anymore. Losing an airline is not good."
us airways will not continue to offer stx as a code share destination from sju or stt becuase they no longer have a code share partner airline. their old code share parter was caribbean sun, but they went belly up and are no longer in operation - at all.
you're right, it's never good to lose an airline. you can always try and point fingers at who to blame, but in reality, it's everyone's fault.
let's just hope american, delta, and cape air can stay afloat.