Thursday, August 23, 2012

Theme Park Bill On Way to Senate Vote in US Virgin Islands

St. Croix.  Courtesy Office of the Commissioner of Tourism, US Virgin Islands
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands (August 23, 2012) -- On Monday, the Senate Rules Committee passed a bill authorizing proposals for a theme park on the island of St Croix.  The bill now goes to the full Senate.

The bill would authorize the Public Finance Authority to solicit proposals for the development and construction of a water and adventure park on the island of St. Croix. The Bill was sponsored by Senator Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly.

David W. Mapp, from the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA), in his testimony during an earlier hearing before the Committee on Economic Development, Technology and Agriculture, said he supports the Bill as outlined. He said in 2001 the VIPA commissioned a TRIAD report, a document that outlined and recommended an economic development action plan specifically for the island of St. Croix. The plan identified the construction of a cultural theme park, as well as an aquarium as key pieces in the establishment of the St. Croix branding specific for the purpose of a new tourism market development tool.

Mapp said after an extensive market and economic analysis, a site evaluation study and finally a week-long design charette, the “Ay Ay” Cultural Theme Park, originally proposed in 2004, was conceived, with a proposed primary placement on the western end of the island. He further noted that this proposed development incorporated the TRIAD recommended aquarium, various rides and cultural elements from local foods to music, which would provide visitors with both an educational as well as a theme park experience, and in short, a mini Epcot Center in this part of the Caribbean.

According to Mapp, it remains his agency’s position that while such a development is but one part of the ‘hub and spoke’ required to re-invent the St. Croix brand in this highly competitive tourism market. He added that it would be a significant step in the right direction towards increasing airlift, hotel rooms and cruise calls to the island of St. Croix.

Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Doty testified before the earlier Committee that her department is encouraged by the many efforts being made to develop ideas to improve tourism product and thus make the US Virgin Islands a more competitive travel destination.

She said that any new water or adventure park would be beneficial to the territory by establishing a theme that’s consistent with the unique culture, heritage and beauty of the island of St. Croix.