STATEMENT BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
DR. THE HONOURABLE D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE
ON THE CLOSING OF BIRAS CREEK RESORT
June 16, 2015
Ladies and gentleman,
Biras Creek Resort has been one of the BVI’s leading hotel properties for several decades and has served the people of the BVI well. In recent years, since 2006 it has been operated by Mr. David Johnson under his Victor International Properties brand, through a leasehold arrangement with Biras Creek Resorts.
Last week Friday, I met with Mr. Johnson who advised me that regrettably, after 9 years of millions of dollars of capital injections and significant operational costs (losses) it had become impossible to continue to operate the hotel as a viable business venture. Therefore, he would be giving up his lease arrangements and shutting down operations at the resort on June 16, 2015.
I am very disheartened at these turn of events and deeply empathise with the workers and families, and the people of Virgin Gorda Community who will be impacted by its closure.
I am hopeful that we can find a way to re-open the property in the Fall. Indeed, I am optimistic and my Government will work with the resort’s owners, through their local representative to explore all avenues to do just that.
There are some 73 workers who will be affected, among them, 23 BVIslanders.
I am aware that Mr. Johnson and his senior management team have held discussions with all the staffers to explain the resort’s closure. Indeed this is a difficult issue, not just for the staffers and their families, but for the Territory.
There is some solace, even in this unfortunate event.
I am pleased that notwithstanding the resort’s closure, all staffers will continue to be paid until the usual shut down period of August 15 this year.
Moreover, Mr. Johnson has agreed that ALL employees, including those that were employed with the resort prior to it being operated by Victor Properties, will be paid full redundancy benefits in accordance with the Labour Code.
In addition, I understand that Mr. Johnson will be transitioning approximately 18 of the workers, by employing them at his Oil Nut Bay property.
My Government will do everything possible to soften the impact of the resort closure on the workers, their families and the community. Already,
- We have asked the Labour Ministry to facilitate as efficiently as possible, the transitioning of any of the workers to other employment opportunities that they may find.
- We are engaging other resorts to determine whether there are opportunities to place any of the workers.
- We have asked the Immigration Department to allow the workers that are subject to immigration control appropriate time to seek and find other job opportunities.
In the coming days, we will be setting up a help desk and reassigning one of our experts in tourism to assist all staff in this transition. As I intimated earlier I shall be engaging with the resort’s owners to discuss the possibilities of having the resort re-opened.
I wish to once again express my deep regret and empathy for the staffers of the resort and their families. We will offer the hand of support of the Government in the best ways possible. I call on the rest of the business community to provide new opportunities for the affected workers.
I ask for the continued support of this entire community as we move to broaden and deepen our economy so that as these inevitable circumstances arise, workers could be absorbed seamlessly into a bigger and stronger economy.