On Land Cruise Port and Cayman Islands National Museum Waterfront, respectively. Additionally, Peppers Bar & Grill—a casual, friendly local restaurant and bar on West Bay Road—has kicked it up a notch with new renovations and menu additions.
FCCA OPERATIONS COMMITTEE PREVIEWS CHARLOTTE AMALIE REVITALIZATION PROJECTS The revitalization of downtown Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas continues apace with ongoing progress on major capital projects such as the expansion of Veterans Drive and Main Street, both of which are extremely popular with cruise ship passengers. The world-famous retail and port district offers visitors endless choices for shopping, dining, exploring historic sites or just relaxing. Representatives from Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International visited “Rock City” in April to get a preview of the projects, including plans for enhanced harbor water transportation, for which they had prepared feedback and a presentation.
52 SECOND QUARTER 2019 | TRAVEL & CRUISE
LIVING THE PURA VIDA WAY With health and wellness travel expecting to increase 43% between 2015-20 to a $808 billion-dollar industry, Costa Rica is in a healthy spot to benefit from its wellness practices that run deep in local culture and mindset. With a motto of Pura Vida (“pure life”) that can be heard in greetings, it is the same feeling awaiting guests as they treat their mind, body and spirit though activities ranging from al fresco yoga in the rainforest or letting out the hot air through its landmark hot springs, to luxurious spa experiences and local cuisine serving up sustainability.
three-year and five-year averages, and air access growing at all airports – with San Juan International airport (SJU) seeing a 23.8% year-over-year increase in air traffic in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the first three months of 2018. Major online travel agencies like Priceline, Kayak and Expedia Group have also publicly reported accelerated increase in demand for lodging on the Island. Priceline has reported that room night bookings are up 125% in Q1; Kayak.com analyzed Spring Break search traffic across all 50 states and saw a 115% search iwncrease compared to 2018, with the hot spot most commonly searched for in 30 out of 50 states as San Juan; and Expedia Group data showed that demand increased by 440% and 40%, respectively, in Q4 2018 as compared to the same period in 2017.
PUERTO RICO WELCOMING UNPRECEDENTED NUMBERS Built fort tough, Puerto Rico’s 2019 Q1 lodging demand was on par with 2017 Q1 levels as of April 29 – just 14 months post-hurricane Maria, signaling an unprecedented pace of recovery for a destination. Total demand for independent rentals was up 72% from 2017 Q1 levels, underscoring a large growth in visitors. For the rest of the year, the forecast looks promising as the remainder of 2019 is booking 24.1% higher than 2018 levels – and expected to continue to rise as the average booking to arrival window is approximately 2.5 months. Puerto Rico’s tourism industry has indeed made great strides in record time. Additional milestones include a new record for most passenger arrivals in a month, welcoming 209,974 cruise guests in January—3.6% more than the record set in December 2014 and 28.9% more than January 2018—many of whom were homeporting, with a 56.6% increase in homeport cruise passengers compared to January 2018. Plus, 2019 Q1 leads and bookings in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) space far surpassed past
Photo of Castillo San Felipe del Morro by @kumarfilms_ (IG)
NEW DOLPHIN EXPERIENCES AT CORAL WORLD IN ST. THOMAS Coral World Ocean Park in St. Thomas is home to the St. Thomas Sea Sanctuary, the first of its kind to be opened that meets the federal government’s Marine Mammal Protection Act and Animal Welfare Act requirements. Ever committed to education and conservation, Coral World now introduces park visitors to two new experiences that provide exciting, up-close interactions with these familiar, fascinating mammals. “Dolphin Splash” and “Dolphin Moment and Sea Sanctuary Tour” combine fun and learning, while educating visitors about protecting the species and the world’s marine ecosystem.