When Denmark sold the islands to the US government in 1917, they insisted that the existing privileges of the inhabitants be respected. A result of this is that the Virgin Islands are not part of the Federal Customs Area, a state of affairs that affords various advantages. This, in turn, has allowed the islands to support a high standard of living that they are naturally reluctant to relinquish.
Tourism is a key industry, contributing around US$1.2 billion annually to the economy. The manufacturing industry is relatively new and thriving, producing pharmaceuticals, electronics and textiles. In addition, the islands have one of the world's largest oil refineries and a thriving trade in rum. Agriculture is confined to producing for local consumption; there are no significant natural resources. Transhipment and financial services are the islands' other main sources of revenue.
The US Virgin Islands are an idyllic place to hold a conference or convention. In St Croix, facilities are available in four major hotels for up to 200 people and in two beach resorts for up to 125. In St John, facilities are available at the Hyatt Regency for up to 350 persons and in the national park for 50 persons. St Thomas has meeting facilities in two hotels for up to 300 persons and in seven beach resorts for up to 850 persons. For further information on conference/convention facilities in the US Virgin Islands, contact the US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism (see Contact Addresses).