Presidential Visit Could Put Spotlight on Territorial Needs, Governor Says

President Joe Biden rings in 2019 with First Lady Jill Biden at Point Udall on St. Croix. (Source file photo)

The Secret Service has been in the territory for more than a week, hotel rooms are booked up and St. Croix residents are preparing for President Joseph Biden to touch down Tuesday for a short vacation that many have said may not only make a significant economic impact but also turn the spotlight on some pressing V.I. needs, including a looming energy crisis.

Biden is a frequent visitor to St. Croix and last came in 2019, ringing in the New Year with residents at Point Udall, but he also vacationed each year from 2014-2016 while he was vice president of the United States. This time, he comes as the country’s top official, the first time a sitting president has visited the U.S. Virgin Islands since Bill Clinton in 1997.

“It’s an epic and historic occasion for a sitting president of the United States to visit the territory,” Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. told the Source Monday. “President Biden’s return is proof of his love and longstanding commitment to our islands, people and our way of life. We are honored to have him and hope that he will be back annually to grace our shores.”

Biden’s visit comes in the middle of the Crucian Christmas Festival, which has already pushed hotel and Airbnb capacity to its limit. While the president’s entourage has helped to stretch it further, Bryan said the added economic impact is welcome.

“Every hotel room, village and rental car is taken,” the governor said. “The press corps has a reception on Wednesday, and we expect plenty of positive stories — it’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

The White House press team has said the visit is meant to be a relaxing one for Biden and his family, with limited to no public appearances or media events. Still, it’s hoped that as he interacts with local officials, some of the territory’s more pressing issues will come to light.

“I really hope it brings to light our energy crisis and the more moves we are making to finally resolve a decades-old problem through renewables and efficiency,” Bryan said. “I think it also reminds the entire nation that we are Americans and deserve a quality of life, representation and benefits equal to those that Americans on the mainland have become accustomed to.”

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