Dr. The Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE
2016 BVI Emancipation Festival
29th July, 2016
Ladies and gentlemen, this weekend we will come together to mark one of our most important historical and cultural events, the Annual BVI Emancipation Festival celebrations, which will continue across this Territory over the next few days.
During our Festival seasons, it has become customary for us to welcome returning BVIslanders and many visitors to our shores. This year is no different and as Premier, with responsibility for Tourism, I ask that you join me in extending a warm BVI welcome to all of our visitors.
Over the years the BVI has achieved a relatively crime-free status as criminal activity is minimal when compared to other parts in the region. With this in mind, I call on every resident and visitor to help us keep criminal activity to a minimum and let us partner with the Royal Virgin Police Force to help protect life and property, especially during this Festival season. Remember, that in a matter of seconds or minutes, the BVI’s image, as one of the region’s premier destinations, could be easily tarnished and damaged irreparably by some unfortunate criminal act.
Every day my Government works assiduously to strengthen and improve our tourism product with a number of initiatives aimed at helping to build this economy so that you and your children can live quality lives.
That is why I am calling on every resident and visitor to be on your ‘best behaviours’ because we cannot afford for the BVI’s reputation to be tarnished or tainted in any way as this could be to the detriment of the hardworking mothers and fathers who provide and sacrifice for their families.
As a member of the National Security Council, we take very seriously the matter of internal security and quite recently the small pockets of individuals who insist on threatening that security by violating our laws. That is why I am pleased that during this Festival season the Commissioner of Police has taken steps to ensure the safety of life and property by re-enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on crime.
At this time I salute our frontline, hardworking men and women in the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, Her Majesty’s Customs and Immigration Department, who work so diligently to protect our population, our ports of entry and our borders even at times when we are in the comfort of our homes. On behalf of my Government and the people of this Territory, I say thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen after 182 years of emancipation from slavery, let us not lose sight of the historical significance of the Festival celebrations. Let us take this opportunity to reflect and reminisce on the brave and courageous acts of our forefathers to break loose from the chains of bondage. Let us celebrate their memories by doing our part to ensure a crime-free 2016 Festival season and let us go out in numbers to support the many events organised by the hardworking Festival and Fairs Committee.
Finally, I encourage us all to act responsibly during this Festival season as we embrace the spirit of freedom and let us all celebrate with pride and respect for each other and our beloved Territory of the Virgin Islands.