MIAMI (CBSMiami) – You still can't take a luxury cruise line to the U.S. Virgin Islands, but you can fly and tourism is turning around, even with the cruise ship business dead in the water for now.
"We are a very safe destination," said U.S. Virgin Islands Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte. "Our positivity rate, knock on wood, for the pandemic is less than two and one half percent."
With no cruise ships and inbound passengers from the U.S. screened and on the ground awareness in vogue, vacationers are beginning to flock in.
"Everybody who lives there and travels there understands the importance of keeping those practices in place, everybody is a stake holder in this," explained Alexander Britell of the Caribbean Journal.
It has not all been good. The islands shut down twice when cases spiked and now there seems to be a steady run of low number of cases.
In order to keep numbers low, "You have to get tested within five days of the trip then you have to go on the USVI Travel Screen Portal," said Britell.
On the portal, there are questions that are evaluated and if all is good, your documents are issued electronically to fly to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"You get to the airport, you show it to them, they check your temperature, if you are good, on to the hotel or the Airbnb and enjoy your vacation," said Britell. "If you show you have taken the antibody test in the last four months before travel that works too."
The number of hotel rooms are down about 30% due to damage from hurricanes Maria and Irma, but those hotels and restaurants that are open to their "allowed occupancy" do have strict mask regulations and social distancing policies in place.
"A significant amount of our population has been vaccinated which helps," said Boschulte.
The U.S. Virgin Islands are a popular destination because of its beautiful beaches, sparkling water and wonderful weather, but unlike most Caribbean destinations, it's a U.S. territory.
"The CDC order that went out a few weeks ago that requires a negative test to enter the U.S. does not, does not apply to the U.S. Virgin Islands because we are part of the U.S." explained Boschulte.
The same holds true for Puerto Rico.
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