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“Without a Doubt, 2020 …Anxiety and Loss”

The U.S. Virgin Islands’ Commissioner of Tourism is thankful for all the support the tourism industry received in the last year and is optimistic about the year to come. Commissioner Joseph Boschulte highlighted in his year-end address one of the Territory’s most recent honors — being named Destination of the Year by Caribbean Journal, a leading digital travel news publication focusing on the region. 

The islands response to COVID-19 and the implementation of its travel portal as one of the key factors into why the USVI were chosen as Destination of the Year.

“Without a doubt, 2020 has been a turbulent year, and many of us have experienced anxiety and suffered loss. But it has also been a time when we have come together as never before to care for one another, to celebrate the values and people we cherish, to bear one another’s burdens, and to find solutions to overcome our challenges,” recalled the commissioner.

The U.S. Virgin Islands is currently in the “Safer-at-Home” phase of the Territory’s pandemic response, during which businesses are open, but residents and visitors are urged to engage in activities with health and safety as a top priority and to limit exposure to others, especially groups. 

Every traveler aged five or older who enters the U.S. Virgin Islands by air or sea, including anyone in-transit to another destination, is required to use the USVI Travel Screening Portal (usvitravelportal.com) and submit a COVID-19 test result prior to travel.

We, at No Kids, Will Travel really hope that soon we will be able to travel again and take advantage of all that America’s Caribbean has to offer. I for one can’t wait to see my little sister who lives on Saint Thomas and we haven’t seen in over a year.

We know 2021 has gotten off to a rocky start and COVID-19 didn’t just disappear when the clock struck 12 but, we hope to be ready to responsibly travel again by this summer. *fingers crossed*

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Happy Holidays

We like a lot of people spent the morning catching up with family on Zoom. I for one really enjoyed not having to rush between families on Christmas Day. We did however hit the road and take a trip to Clearwater Beach for a nice long walk. The temperature was only around 50 F so we had to wear sweatshirts but it was still nice to listen to the wave rolling in against the beach.

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Potential Roadblocks to Your Travels

The COVID world is still very much controlling our lives despite the rollout of two vaccines. The CDC stated that you shouldn’t travel over the holidays. You should just stay home and we are fine with that especially after hearing about a new more contagious strain of the COVID virus on the loose in England. You also might have some problems if you are traveling out of state too.

If you are traveling to California as of December 3 to curb the fast-moving spread of COVID-19. In it, a crucial clause specifies that “no hotel or lodging entity in California shall accept or honor out of state reservations for non-essential travel,” unless the reservation is made for a stay of at least 14 days, during which guests will quarantine in their accommodations.

If you are entering Connecticut from one of several states on watch list for having high COVID numbers you must fill out a Connecticut Travel Health Form upon arrival. Failure to submit the form or to complete quarantine could result in a civil penalty of $500 per violation.

Illinois has you quarantining for 10 days if you are entering from any State in the union unless you have a negative COVID test less than 72 hours old.

Visitors entering from states that are noncontiguous with New York must quarantine for 14 days. You can “test out” of the quarantine if you have a negative test within 72 hours that were taken at your point of origin. You must then quarantine for 3 days upon arrival and then take another COVID test. If you are negative for the virus you may leave quarantine. You must also complete a Traveler Health Form. If you leave the airport without completing the form you are subject to a $10,000 fine. If you are entering via a train or automobile you must fill out the form online.

We recommend that with each state having its own particular rules you check their website in order to see what rules apply to you.

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Just Out of Reach

We can dream.

We can hope.

We can look at a map.

We know until things change it just out of reach.

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An Island Plan that Doesn’t Rely upon Sun and Cocktails.

The US Virgin Islands has a plan to not only sustain its tourism industry post COVID but grow it. But, this time it won’t just be relying on the beautiful beaches and crystal clear water to attract visitors. U.S. VIRGIN

Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte pledged to leverage the Territory’s “natural appeal and a growing complement of facilities to attract athletes to practice and compete on and off our shores.” Boschulte along with Commissioner of Sports, Parks & Recreation Calvert White, and Virgin Islands Sports Commission Chairman Leon Hunt, Commissioner Boschulte said promoting the benefits of the Territory’s sporting capabilities and infrastructure was critical, in addition to extended seasons for training and the enjoyment of a year-round tropical climate. “In addition, teams won’t have to worry about passports as they are not needed for U.S. citizens, and we have top-rated facilities as well as U.S. ​standards and coaches to provide oversight,” said the tourism chief.

The growth of the “tournament hosting industry” where the island hosts college teams for competitions like the Paradise Basketball Jam over Thanksgiving break is one of the key sectors where the commissioners see growth potential.

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism was a proud sponsor of the 21st Paradise Jam basketball tournament in Washington, DC.

From hosting the annual Paradise Jam basketball tournament to leveraging the USVI Soccer Federation’s FIFA-certified soccer field on St. Croix, and hosting the ITF junior tennis tournament, Commissioner Boschulte stated that the Department of Tourism will continue to invite members of the media to attend and participate in events such as the USVI Charter Yacht Show, the St. Thomas International Regatta, Carlos Aguilar Match Race, Beauty and the Beast Triathlon, Beach to Beach Power Swim, and the USVI Tennis Cup.

The islands aren’t only focusing on what they can do on land with the commission citing that the U.S. Virgin Islands economy made by 150 week/term charter vessels, 75 day charter, 17 sport-fishing and 55 bareboat charter vessels were estimated at approximately US$45 million.

“We forecast 2020 numbers to be positive due to a large number of visiting vessels, as well as our expanded reach into the charter yacht, regatta, and game fishing sectors,” The Tourism Commission reported this year. The commission further reported that the U.S. Virgin Islands Charter Yacht Show successfully brought large numbers of vessels into the Territory, further boosting the economy and leveraging the Territory’s charter facilities.

The web page www.usviupdate.com/marine provides an overview of the Territory’s assets and resources for the marine industry for anyone interested in seeing what the territory has to offer and has planned for the future.

The report all and all precedents a healthy future for tourism in territories as the world begins its recovery from the most devastating plague in recent history.

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A Walk in the Park

The weather was nice this past Saturday and in an effort to breath some fresh air and  journey beyond the walls of our apartment we went for a walk along the trails in Upper Tampa Bay Park. We’d been meaning to visit this park for a while but it had been closed for months because of the COVID-19 lockdowns. The park entrance off of the main thoroughfare of Hillsborough Ave to the west of Tampa is a bit in assuming. Yet when you drive the half mile back the speed bump covered road you get to the big red canoe indicating you’ve reached the formal entrance. The park offers a small playground, picnic pavilions, nature trails (with information plaques) and canoes and kayak rentals if you don’t have your own. The park boasts a nature center too but that is still closed. Amanda and I took a leisurely walk down some of the trails, each running in a loop, and many running along the marshland or bayous of the upper bay.  It was a nice chance to get out of the house we just might remembered bring the bug spray bedtime since one of the trails seemed to have quite a few mosquitoes. We think over all for 2 dollars admission and 25 dollars for four hours boat rental the Upper Tampa Bay Park is a nice escapee from our all to familiar walls of our apartment. 

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Hawaii Life

Palm Tree on One Foot Island

You’ll need a COVID-19 test if you want to say Mele Kalikimaka in Hawaii this year. If you don’t have a negative COVID-19 test in hand you’ll have to submit to a 14-day mandatory quarantine or the length of the trip whichever is shorter.

“We’re taking this added safety precaution now in response to the dramatically increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the continental United States and around the world. The health of our residents and visitors is our primary concern, especially as more people travel to Hawaiʻi to celebrate the holidays,” said Gov. Ige.

The new policy applies to domestic transpacific flights and international flights departing from locations in which the State of Hawaiʻi pre-testing programs are in place.

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Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park

We wanted to get out of the house and wanted to find as responsible a way of doing that as possible. We decided that we’d take a walk in the park, the Lowry Park and Zoo Tampa. The Zoo is divided up in to 6 sections that lend its self to a meandering walk through Asia, Florida, Africa, Wallaroo, and Primates. The audience of NKWT might want to skip Wallaroo the children’s oriented section of the zoo filled with rides and other amenities directed at youngsters.

Amanda and I are admittedly spoiled by growing up with the National Zoo in our backyard. The National Zoo is one of the best parks anywhere and is absolutely free. We went to the Zoo in Pittsburgh and that only cost $13 per person. So, the cost of a $40 per person to see some animals seems a very steep price.

The collection of animals was a little limited for us. We expected to see multiple versions of some animals. We saw some animals that we’d classify as “deer” and found only one on display.

The zoo was a great place for us to get out of the house too. But, a bit disappointing as far as variety goes. We are however grateful for all the work that Zoo Tampa does for species preservation and education.

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What’s Next…?

The world, we hope, will move on from the last four years. We’ve found it quite surreal the way the world, no we, the US retreated from the world. We hope that at this point, given the imminent change in leadership, we will return to a place of leadership in the world.

Arrivals Departures Signpost Shows Flights Airport And International Travel

We also agree with this statement from the U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow.

“The American travel industry congratulates President-elect Joe Biden on his victory,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement. “We applaud President-elect Biden’s objective of helping the industries most heavily impacted by the pandemic. The travel industry accounts for more than a third of overall U.S. unemployment, and policies to promote relief, recovery, and stimulus for travel businesses are integral to a U.S. economic turnaround.”

We know that the travel industry in the US is hurting, as it the industry everywhere. The biggest hurdle to the industry getting back on its feet is getting control of COVID-19. We are are sure that under an administration that actually recognizes that COVID-19 is a problem, and is killing people, and there ARE things we can do to prevent those deaths, and that will go a long way toward getting all of us traveling again.

We honestly hope with the change in administration and the eventual suppression of COVID-19 that America and Americans will be welcomed overseas once more.

So in the words of my favorite fictional president “What’s next?”

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U.S. Virgin Islands Sets the Standard for Travel in the Age of COVID-19

The Virgin Islands have seen thousands of visitors in the month since opening to tourist traffic. The department of tourism believes that the Travel Screening Portal to screen for COVID-19 and the established guidelines for visitors.

“The Travel Screening Portal has been a game-changer for us as it has given us the technological capability to prescreen and certify travelers before they arrive in the Territory, enhancing our ability to ensure that visitors and residents are asprotected as possible from COVID-19 infection,” stated Commissioner Boschulte,adding that the Department of Tourism is actively preparing for the launch ofan updated, upgraded Travel Screening Portal (version 2.0), an extension of its crisis communications plan to safeguard the public health reputation of the destination.

The current version of the Travel Screening Portal, which since its late July launch has processed close to 25,000 travelers, offers a user-friendly front-end system to walk travelers through the submission process, and a secure, state-of-the-art back-end system that allows administrators to seamlessly process submissions, and airport andseaport personnel to efficiently process travelers upon arrival. It also features mobile-optimized functionality. “

The technology undergirding the Travel Screening Portal has been designed to be the most user freindly possiable and allowing a faster mobile experience. The portal email generation system will also provide vital information to the passenger before traveling. The goal is that Artificial Intelligence will automate and increase the efficiency of the entire back-end process.

“The Department of Tourism is continuously balancing the need to promote safe and healthy travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands, while employing and deploying new and innovative technologies to carry out essential prescreening of all travelers. The healthof everyone in the Territory remains our highest priority,” noted the Commissioner, who lauded the strong communications, marketing and public relations efforts that are continuing to keep the U.S. Virgin Islands “top of mind” with travelers not only from the mainland United States, but around the world.

“Demand for travel to our islands continues on an upward trend, with inquiries and conversions to bookings encouraging, especially during this typically slow period of travel to the Caribbean. We are also pleased with the increased airlift scheduled for the coming months. We believe we have something very special to offer visitors, especially those who are seeking an escape from the pandemic lockdown that has all but crippled travel to many other destinations.”

The USVI Travel Screening Portal 2.0 is expected to launch in November, making it even easier for travelers to go through the necessary steps prior to traveling to theTerritory. 
The portal is available at www.usviupdate.com/travelportal.