Black Meetings and Tourism

November/December 2021

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B M & T ••• November/December 2021 ••• 27 U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS CREDITS SUCCESS TO PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS Department Of Tourism and Economic Development Authority Promote Business Opportunities at Investment Summit U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte (right) is pictured with Acting CEO and Director General of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Vanessa Ledesma in Hollywood, Florida last month. The U.S. Virgin Islands credits its ability to survive and thrive during the worldwide COVID-19 crisis to synergistic public-private partnerships. Joseph Boschulte Commissioner of the USVI Department of Tourism, and Wayne Biggs, CEO of the U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority, led a dele- gation representing the Territory at the Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS), which was held recent- ly in Hollywood, Florida. During a panel discussion on public-private collaboration, Commissioner Boschulte recognized the importance of working together with other government entities such as the Department of Health, as well as business owners and employees alike, particularly in the tourism and hospitality sectors, to ensure that protocols and policies are understood and enforceable. "A big part of our success has been our relationship, led by our governor Albert Bryan Jr., with our private sector peo- ple," the Commissioner stated. "As government, we can set protocols. However, it's not only the government's responsi- bility to enforce the protocols; it's the business owners, the hotel owners, the managers, the restaurant and bar managers' job — to keep the entire economy humming." Commissioner Boschulte believes the U.S. Virgin Islands has been able to record notable successes such as record numbers of visitor arrivals because of the leadership's deci- sion early in the pandemic to "manage the virus and not run from the virus" and proactive moves to protect both lives and livelihoods, in an economy that is heavily dependent on its tourism sector. From left: Wayne Biggs, CEO, U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (USVIEDA); USVI Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte; USVIEDA Business Ambassador Yolanda Bryan; and investor Steve Boughner of Global Solutions VI LLC, at CHRIS in Florida. Addressing conference-goers during a presentation on investment opportunities in the U.S. Virgin Islands, USVIE- DA CEO Biggs highlighted the USVI's enviable market access, hotel development incentive program and COVID-19 response. "We have access to key markets," Biggs said. "If you look at us geographically on a map, we're sort of in the middle of the Caribbean chain. There are 43.6 million consumers in the Caribbean basin, there are 433.6 million in South America and about 370.6 million consumers in North America." He went on to note, "[The VI Economic Development Authority is] a one-stop shop and we support development throughout the Territory … [and] we also offer support in real estate, logistics, supply chain, government regulations, human resources, legal and financial support, and incentives." USVIEDA CEO Wayne Biggs addressing conference del- egates.

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