US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association

The USVI Hotel & Tourism Association (USVIHTA) is honored to accept generous donations from the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), the Caribbean Society of Hotel Association Executives (CSHAE), Tourism Cares, the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association (JHTA) and the Saint Lucia Hotel & Tourism Association (SLHTA) for financial assistance following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

USVIHTA President Lisa Hamilton commended the role of CHTA in coordinating the donations. CHTA’s efforts ensure destinations which need funding to support their tourism product during this difficult time are able to do so.

Scott Derrickson, immediate past chairman of the USVIHTA Board of Directors, said, “We appreciate all the assistance and aid we receive from our Caribbean family and will make sure it goes to valued efforts.”

JHTA, via its charity fund and contributions from several of its supporting member hotels, contributed $22,200 to CHTA to assist with the recovery of destinations most severely impacted. Based upon CHTA’s needs assessments, CHTA and JHTA agreed that the funds would be best directed to assist affected national hotel and tourism associations (NHTAs). USVIHTA received $4,500 from JHTA’s donation.

Additionally, SLHTA in partnership with CSHAE hosted a fundraiser gala and a recovery retreat for the affected hotel and tourism association staff. The gala included an auction for stays and other prizes at properties in Anguilla, Bonaire, the Bahamas, Barbados, Nevis, USVI, BVI and the Turks & Caicos Islands as well as prizes from LIAT and HCP Media.

To date, the auction has raised S10,000 which was provided to CHTA for distribution to six affected nations, including the USVI which will receive $1667 of the shared funds. The SLHTA in collaboration with private sector partners is planning an online auction to raise additional funds.

A press release from SLHTA noted that these funds will ensure that the NHTAs in affected islands are functional as soon as possible and can continue facilitating the enhanced competitiveness of their members thereby increasing employment, business activity and community development initiatives.

According to CHTA CEO and Director General Frank Comito, the associations collaborated on the decision to allocate the funds to USVIHTA.

“National hotel and tourism associations, like the USVIHTA, are essential to helping to facilitate the industry’s recovery. Ensuring that these nonprofit organizations, which have lost facilities, staff and revenue due to the hurricanes, are financially viable is essential,” said Comito.

CHTA has assisted with hurricane recovery efforts for the region’s most severely impacted destinations through: donations of cash and relief supplies; compiling and communicating information on the tourism industry’s recovery status to the international media and travel industry partners; and partnering with the Tourism Cares organization, CSHAE and other destination associations – in particular SLHTA and JHTA – to support recovery efforts.

“Returning tourism as quickly as possible to the destinations which were impacted by last year’s hurricanes is essential to their recovery. Tourism brings back jobs, creates spinoff economic activity and generates the essential tax revenue that destinations need to build back their schools and infrastructure and provide essential social services,” Comito said.

Immediately following the hurricanes, CHTA partnered with the international nonprofit organization Tourism Cares in establishing the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund (CTRF). USVIHTA is receiving $7,500 from this fund.

Recognizing that the road to recovery would require support beyond the immediate relief provided by governments and major disaster relief efforts, which CHTA also assisted with, the Tourism Recovery Fund was created to help unite the industry and its resources to support the long-term recovery and the destination’s ability to rebound as quickly as possible. Many CHTA partners and tourism partners in the region and beyond supported the fund. More than $250,000 was raised through the CTRF.

The fund has been supporting projects and plans to support projects in affected destinations tied to: the creation of a jobs bank to assist displaced workers; training of employees prior to returning to work; supporting participation by destination tourism authorities and hotels in public relations and marketing, in particular through their attendance at Caribbean Travel Marketplace; the establishment of voluntourism programs; assisting the affected national hotel and tourism associations; supporting small tourism-related infrastructure projects; and supporting social enterprise projects.

The Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund’s areas of focus are: training and education; restoring destination capacity; physical restoration of tourism-related infrastructure; social enterprise development; and other investments based on need.