Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. will host officials with the Royal Caribbean Group at the fourth USVI Community Business Forum series next week, according to Government House. The forum, to be held via Zoom from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, will take “a closer look at the cruise giant’s expected return to the territory this summer,” according to a Government House statement.
Participating will be Jayne Halcomb, Royal Caribbean Group’s director of Business and Destination Development, Caribbean and the Americas, and Elisa Shen, associate vice president of Onboard Revenue and Hotel Operations for Royal Caribbean International, along with V.I. Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion and Julien Henley, territorial ADA coordinator.
“It has been more than a year since our last cruise ship call, and that has certainly taken a toll on our tourism industry,” Bryan said in the prepared statement. “We are happy to see Royal Caribbean return after such a prolonged absence, but we also have to be ready to receive cruise passengers while maintaining our health guidelines. I’m urging business owners, especially those who work closely with our guests such as taxi drivers and tour operators, to be a part of this conversation.”
He encouraged Virgin Islands business owners, entrepreneurs and anyone interested in starting a business directly or indirectly related to the tourism or hospitality industry to attend and participate.
This will be Royal Caribbean Group’s third time attending the forum, according to David Bornn, Bryan’s chief legal counsel, who has helped organized the event.
“We are truly excited about part four of the Community Business Forum. Royal Caribbean Group has participated in two of our previous events, and this time we anticipate much more detailed information about their expected return to the U.S. Virgin Islands — both St. Thomas and St. Croix — this summer,” Bornn said.
The Bryan-Roach administration, he added, has hosted the forums “to ensure that our local businesses are ready for the return of cruise guests and to also have general business development information to help them reset and rebuild after COVID-19 pandemic.”
The CBF series, launched in December 2020, is an initiative of the Office of the Governor, the V.I. Economic Development Authority and the V.I. Tourism Department, in partnership with Royal Caribbean, to provide business owners with the tools and resources they need to adapt, innovate, and embrace technology to rebuild the V.I. economy.
The Center for Disease Control recently lifted its No-Sail Order imposed in March of 2020. The cruise lines have had to meet certain stringent criteria to resume sailing and to prevent any future outbreaks on the ships, the news release said.
To participate via Zoom, visit www.vi.gov/cbf or call 340-774-0001 for the link. Wednesday’s forum will also be live-streamed on Government House’s Facebook page.