U.S. Virgin Islands
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Following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) has an urgent need for economic recovery support and improved resiliency. The islands’ economy had just begun to emerge from the fallout from the 2008 economic recession and 2011 closure of the Hovensa Oil Refinery prior to the hurricanes. The hurricanes halted that progress and further impacted the economy including lost output, declines in employment, substantial increases in initial unemployment claims, and declines in tourism.
In FY 2018, EDA awarded $304,000 in Disaster Relief funds to the Government of the USVI for the development of a disaster resiliency plan that helps the USVI Bureau of Economic Research develop a Post-Disaster Resiliency Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and Tourism Master Plan (TMP).
The USVI TMP will assess the tourism products and assets to understand what is in place, being rebuilt, or has closed. The goal is to develop a TMP that makes the tourism industry more competitive and resilient to natural, economic, and other disasters. Salient topic areas include destination audit and tourism asset inventory, destination assessment and stakeholder engagement, situational analysis, destination development, and action plan. The work will also support an updated CEDS that is integrated and coordinated with other post-disaster efforts.