STATEMENT BY PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR TOURISM
DR. THE HONOURABLE D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE
FOURTH SITTING OF THE FIRST SESSION OF THE THIRD HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2015
November Is Tourism Month
Madam Speaker, November is Tourism Month in the British Virgin Islands and I am extending a special invitation to all Members and residents to participate in the celebrations planned by the BVI Tourist Board.
This month of activities is designed to sensitise our Community on the importance of tourism to The Territory. The month is also helping us to “gear-up” for the Tourism High Season that begins in mid-December.
As such, there will be a number of activities which bring us closer to our goal of becoming a world-class travel destination.
We have already begun to leave an impressive mark on our visitors. The British Virgin Islands and Guana Island were recognised as winners in Conde Nast Traveler’s 28th annual Reader’s Choice Awards Survey.
More than 128,000 readers submitted millions of ratings and tens of thousands of comments to create a list of destinations that fit their passion for the “authentic, the personalised and the unexpected.”
Readers voted the British Virgin Islands as the 12th Best Island in the World, out of 20 destinations. The review specifically highlights the beaches, rum bars, shipwreck sites, and the Baths.
Additionally, Guana Island placed in two categories: number 75 in Best Hotels in the World and second in Top 40 Resorts in the Caribbean. The resort is described by readers as a “Caribbean dream” because of the exclusiveness of its powdery beaches and beautiful water.
Undoubtedly the impact of travel and tourism on economic and social development of a country can be enormous. We know that tourism and travel create business opportunities for trade and capital investment, employment, entrepreneurialism for the workforce, as well as protects heritage and cultural values.
In the global economy in 2014, travel and tourism generated US$7.6 trillion (10 percent of global GDP) and 277 million jobs (1 in 11 jobs). We can all agree that tourism continues to grow at a rapid pace, with the increase of persons travelling, and more countries engaging in tourism to grow their economies.
In the British Virgin Islands the impact of tourism on the economy is even more pronounced than the global picture as it continues to stand firmly as one of the Territory’s twin economic pillars along with Financial Services.
According to the statistics from the Central Statistics Office: Tourism contributes over 30 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Tourism directly employs one in every three persons in the Territory; tourism expenditure is over $0.5 billion; and it indirectly impacts a number of other economic sectors such as construction, transportation and the financial services.
Overall visitor arrivals up to the end of August, 2015 have increased by more than nine percent over the same period last year. I am pleased to report that overnight guests are up one percent over the same period last year.
While the Tourist Board is charged with fostering the growth and development of our Tourism Sector, the ultimate objective of meeting and exceeding guests’ expectation cannot be achieved without the cooperation of all Ministries and Departments of Government, as well as all residents of the BVI.
Despite all the marketing and improvement in the product, one chance negative encounter with a visitor can severely impact the destination especially with today’s social media where an incident or comment can be reported worldwide in seconds.
In order to enhance the visitor’s experience we must move forward with a common purpose as “One BVI”.
In order to achieve this, it is important to have a strong service training and tourism education regimen.
I am pleased that the BVI Tourist Board is working to implement a number of training and educational initiatives, in conjunction with partners such as the Disney Institute and the Elmore Stoutt High School to engage our guest service providers and our youth.
Our major highlight of Tourism Awareness Month is our second Annual BVI Food Fete, a serious of events celebrating the unique, high quality culinary experiences of the BVI.
I charged the Board with creating an event that would attract guests to experience the Territory’s renowned culinary fare, and also stimulate travel and economic activity prior to the “high season”. Hence the birth of BVI Food Fete.
This month’s activities kicked off yesterday with the Eight Annual Janice Blyden Table Setting Contest and 4th Annual Jr. Chef Challenge with students between the ages of 13 and 18.
A number of other exciting activities are set to take place and includes a Taste of Tortola on November 7.
It will feature a Demonstration Kitchen, the Fish and Fungi Competition, the Mixologist Competition and a Foodie Photo Booth. Attendees will be able to cast their vote during the events, and awards will be presented throughout the night for Tortola’s Favourite Restaurant, Best Booth, Best Food, Best Drink, and more.
On November 8, there will be the Jost Crawl, an exciting bar crawl giving patrons the Jost Van Dyke bar and nightlife experience.
On November 14, the Barefoot Gourmet Soirée returns as an exquisite culinary event and fundraiser set under the stars upon the powder white sands and azure shores of Deadman’s Bay at Peter Island Resort and Spa.
Wine pairings and delectable desserts will be prepared by accomplished international and local pastry chefs including our very own Chef Todd Howard of Peter Island Resort and Spa; Chef Davide Pugliese of Tortola; Pastry Chef Gorvey Henry of Tortola; and Pastry Chef Erika Dupree Cline based on Tortola.
I am pleased to know that funds raised from this event will go towards a scholarship donation to a student in the BVI wishing to pursue a degree in hospitality and tourism.
The month of activities continues with a taste of Virgin Gorda on November 21st set at the Nail Bay Sugar Ruins. Attendees can sample scrumptious food from seven restaurants and incredible wines while enjoying the colloquial sounds created by a jazz band.
This night will feature a Chef Cook-Off, the Foodie Photo Booth and votes for Virgin Gorda’s Favourite Restaurant, Best Booth, Best Food, Best Drink, and more.
Virgin Gorda will also be the home of the On the Rocks Bar Crawl in November. While Anegada will have the world class Lobster Crawl on November 27, which precedes their famous Anegada Lobster Festival from November 28 to 29.
The month will end with a Culinary Education Programme from November 22 to November 28 as visiting chef Roshni Gurnani, Executive Chef and Culinary Chef instructor at the Art Institute of Houston returns to provide her knowledge and expertise to the students studying culinary arts in the BVI.
I encourage the entire BVI community to support activities being held during Tourism Awareness Month in November and visit bvifoodfete.com to select their favorite events and participate.
I thank you.