Most people in life are creatures of habit. We do what is familiar and change can sometimes be unsettling. We tend to like what is a familiar, and routine. It’s safe and secure and reliable.
With the arrival of the pandemic, routine has been thrown out the window. We, along with the rest of the world, have had to navigate and adjust to a new reality.
For Virgin Islanders, change has often been a difficult path in many ways. For decades, our economic livelihood has been cruise ship-based. At the same time, all in business agree it has brought dwindling income into the islands. While having cruise ship visits has certainly helped circulate money, it by no means has been the grand fix-all to keeping our economy moving.
Now, without this industry, it’s time to reinvent ourselves.
Reinventing ourselves means having new plans and focusing on new ideas to get our islands moving in the right direction once tourism begins. Perhaps a full-blown campaign focusing on the history the Virgin Islands has to offer may shift the focus from the daily visitor to those wanting to spend more time with us. The old architecture, food, historic sites — coupled with the V.I. being the boyhood home of Hamilton — all have the ability to pull in visitors.
Offering walking tours, as is done in most European cities, historic house tours and lectures are all possibilities. Having musical events such as steel pan at certain times at Fort Christian may be a draw. Adding rest areas for visitors is a must, with organized taxi transport in the city centers being critical. We need to be competitive with other Caribbean islands in offering amenities we do not have.
With the fantastic natural beauty of pristine beaches, emphasizing peace and quiet, we have it all to offer. And yes, shopping in the multitude of duty-free stores is still a good draw and necessary.
Things have changed, and going back to our old ways is not possible. Tourism, a mainstay of the Virgin Islands economy, needs re-inventing. With the whole world changing, it’s time we change too.
— Maria Ferreras is a longtime St. Thomas resident and community volunteer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.