Statement delivered by the Premier, Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley at the Third Sitting of the First Session of the Fifth House of Assembly of The Virgin Islands, 7 September 2023
Madam Speaker, the establishment of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sustainable Development marks a significant milestone in our government's efforts to prioritize key areas that shape our Territory’s identity, prosperity, and sustainability. This Ministry represents a strategic response to the vital roles played by tourism, culture, sustainable development, and immigration in our national agenda.
Tourism remains a cornerstone of our economic growth and job creation efforts. Our breathtaking natural beauty continues to attract visitors from around the world, contributing significantly to our economic development. Therefore, the Ministry is committed to enhancing the enabling policy and strategic framework to further harness the potential of our tourism sector.
We recently celebrated our 69th Emancipation Celebrations, a testament to our cultural heritage. Our culture is not only a source of pride but also a symbol of resilience and unity. The adoption of the National Cultural Policy reaffirms our commitment to safeguarding our cultural heritage. The Ministry will work closely with the Department of Culture and other stakeholders to support the implementation of this policy and further enhance opportunities for showcasing the same in our tourism product, whilst preserving our heritage.
In an ever-changing world, immigration reform is crucial. We must have responsive policies that address residency and belongership in a manner that aligns with the evolving global context. The Ministry will facilitate the dialogue and recommend legislative changes to modernize our immigration framework, ensuring it meets the needs of our Territory.
Sustainable development is at the core of our vision. The adoption of the National Sustainable Development Plan reflects our dedication to responsible growth that harmonizes economic progress with environmental preservation. The Ministry will play a pivotal role in mainstreaming this plan, involving not only public sector stakeholders but also private and civil society organizations in achieving our sustainability goals.
Furthermore, the Ministry will take the lead in Cross-Government Policy Coordination by establishing a framework and fostering greater synergy in the policy formulation cycle, we will ensure that our collective vision translates into meaningful and tangible results.
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sustainable Development is poised to be a unifying force, bringing together these critical themes to guide our Territory toward a brighter and more sustainable future.
As we move forward, we do so with a profound understanding of the interplay between tourism, culture, sustainable development, and immigration. Together, we will shape a future that honors our heritage, empowers our citizens, and embraces the challenges and opportunities of our dynamic world.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.