ST THOMAS, USVI -- On the eve of a special session of the legislature called by Governor John de Jongh to address a critically-needed major coastal permit for the US Virgin Islands, the government’s Bureau of Economic Research released results of an impact analysis conducted over the last few days to gauge the effect on the territory should it suffer the loss of more than a dozen cruise ship calls.
The impact analysis was developed at de Jongh’s request following his call for Wednesday’s Special Session of the Legislature.
Governor John de Jongh
“We recognize the importance of the cruise passenger and crew member to our economic activity as do our competitors, therefore, I requested the Bureau prepare an analysis of what the loss ship calls would mean to our economy. The analysis concludes that the direct impact of thirteen fewer cruise ship calls, representing over 38,298 cruise passengers and 14,654 crew, amounts to $9,751,045 using the visitor exit study average of $224 per cruise passenger and $80 per crew member expenditures as estimated for the St Thomas /St John district,” de Jongh said on Wednesday.
In addition, he said, given the multiplicative impact of tourism related expenditures in the territory, the direct economic effect or impact of the estimated loss in $9,751,045 in cruise passenger and crew expenditures is equivalent to an estimated $18,363,655 loss in economic output.
De Jongh said it is important that his fellow elected leaders of the government not take lightly the importance of approving this permit for the Port Authority to continue the dredging project in a timely fashion.
“We must face the reality that we stand to lose more than $18 million in economic impact to our economy should the VIPA not be able to complete the project by the November deadline. This has a direct impact on jobs that relate not only to when a cruise passenger or crew member spends, but also indirectly to the spending of that employee paid with those dollars which then circulates locally. We cannot afford to wait, if we don't want them another port will take them. An approval by the Senators only allows to begin the process towards the November 2014 deadline, as a federal permit is still required and a contractor must be selected,” he outlined.
“At a time when the territory is seeing growing and renewed interested in St Croix and while the cruise lines have looked favorably on the steps we are taking to improve the St Thomas cruise ship destination, we can ill afford any action that will stall the completion of the dredging that is planned for the Crown Bay area,” he added.