Information Officer II
Department of Information and Public Relations (GIS)
The Government of the Virgin Islands has said that tourism continues to be the single most important economic activity in the Territory and measures will be taken to build and sustain the sector.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE made the announcement in his 2017 Budget Address at the Fourth Sitting of the Second Session of the Third House of Assembly on January 16 under the theme – ‘Charting Our Course: Positioning the Virgin Islands for the Future’.
Premier Smith said, “As a destination, during 2016, we moved aggressively to promote the BVI in the global marketplace, diversify source markets as well as improved our product by concentrating on guest services’ training for all service providers and especially one-on-one outreach with our indigenously owned tourism entities.”
He said the Territory has seen a growth path in visitor arrival numbers through October 2016 with an overall increase of over 20 percent, adding that overnight arrivals continue to grow and, up to October, recorded year-on-year growth of approximately four percent.
The Premier said the Territory as a destination has continued to receive industry and worldwide tourism accolades with Virgin Gorda being recently named the “Best Island in the Caribbean” by Travel and Leisure.
He added, “The BVI Tourist Board has delivered on the mandate set by my government and has increased visitor arrivals to the Territory, and we are determined to see that trend deepened in our core markets.”
The Premier, who is also Minister for Tourism, said the recently completed Tortola Pier Park is also continuing to welcome record numbers of cruise arrivals. He said shopping at the park is of a high standard and the facility is easily one of the most attractive in the region.
Premier stated that his Government will continue with its programme of the enhancement of attractions and infrastructure on all of the main islands by adding bathroom facilities at several heavily visited beaches as well as attraction enhancements at the Lower Estate Sugar Works Museum, Her Majesty’s Prison and the Paraquita Bay Board Walk, Fort Point National Park, Mill Round Project Hiking Trail and at the Faulkner House and the Fisherman’s Wharf.
The Government also anticipates building on the Territory’s global marketing campaign with plans to increase its presence in core markets as well as in Canada.
Minimum standards have been reintroduced in the Small Properties Sector to enhance the product and service that the small properties deliver, to make them more marketable and profitable. These benchmark standards, the Premier stated, are comparable to a minimum of 3 Diamond rated properties.
Premier Smith also announced that Little Dix Bay will be reopened in December of this year; an improved YCCS will reopen in a few weeks and that the issues relating to the closure of Biras Creek have been satisfactorily resolved.
Honourable Smith added that his Government also sees opportunities to significantly create more value in the tourism sector he assured all service providers in the sector that his Government is actively working on ensuring that the BVI remains the Yachting Capital of the Caribbean, if not the world.
The Government of the Virgin Islands will continue to work with the people of the Territory, through the BVI Tourist Board and other industry stakeholders to ensure success of the sector and to promote the Territory as a premier travel destination.