Information Officer II
Department of Information and Public Relations (GIS)
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley said that direct flights to the U.S mainland signals the re-establishment of a relationship with a major U.S airline, maximizing the capacity of the Terrance B. Lettsome Airport International Airport, and ultimately significant development to the tourism industry and the Virgin Islands as a host destination.
Premier Wheatley, who is also the Minister responsible for Tourism, said that “I am happy that there will be greater accessibility, affordability and convenience which will serve as a catalyst for enhanced opportunities to expand our tourism product. I am anticipating that restaurants, hotels, cultural artisans and transportation services, will benefit from this initiative, which will impact the Territory’s overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
He further explained that direct flights to and from the U.S mainland can generate potential positive implications for the cruise and charter boat industry. “The development of the Blue Economy is contingent on fully capitalising on the economic impact of sailing, yachting, and cruising events. With American Airlines committing to direct flights to the Virgin Islands, we will be positioned to better meet the needs of tourists interested in chartering boats, who will be able to do so with more ease and accessibility.”
Premier Wheatley also explained that “One significant aspect of having American Airlines as a partner, is that persons can earn credit, and use advantage miles to travel
to an American Airlines destination, which creates a new niche of passenger, with direct access to the BVI”.
Direct air access to the Virgin Islands is a major achievement of the Government of the Virgin Islands, since it has been a long-term goal spanning several administrations, increasingly since 2013, when American Eagle discontinued its services in the Virgin Islands after 27 years of service. On June 1, the Virgin Islands will welcome the inaugural American Airline flights, after a successful test flight launched on May 25.
This achievement is also in direct alignment with the National Sustainable Development Plan which encourages the diversification and expansion of the tourism sector as a mechanism to facilitate economic development through encouraging foreign direct investment.
The Government of the Virgin Islands remains committed to advancing and promoting the tourism sector as a major economic contributor through maintaining strategic partnerships with stakeholders, in a manner that is consistent with the National Sustainable Development Plan.