REMARKS BY MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND WORKS
HONOURABLE MARK VANTERPOOL
AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING CEREMONY OF
TORTOLA PIER PARK
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2016
Tortola Pier Park Guarantees A Better Tomorrow
Let me add my personal welcome to all of you, to the Official Grand Opening of the new Tortola Pier Park, here on Wickham's Cay 1, in The Capital City of Road Town!
I would say: What a magnificent development, ladies and gentlemen!
If you would say the same, please let me hear a resounding round of applause.
Many of you would have already visited the Park and we have been getting very favorable comments from experts in the field, from visitors and from residents, that this is indeed a well-executed project and a worthy investment for the people of the Virgin Islands.
Ladies and gentlemen, I was pleased to hear today from a political colleague from the island of St. Marteen, Mr. Theodore Heyliger, who visited and was very impressed with our Tortola Pier Park.
We also heard from the famous St. Thomas icon and radio personality, Addie Ottley, who broadcast his radio show, LIVE, from here earlier today, and said how extremely impressed he was with this magnificent development.
To those of you who are visiting this facility for the first time, I am sure, that you are amazed and pleased at what your Government is doing, to guarantee the long term sustainability of the Cruise Tourism Industry in the Virgin Islands.
Ladies and gentlemen, Tortola Pier Park is like a whole new town within the City of Road Town.
The architecture in the Park is designed to be consistent with the vision of a Main Street look and we have hand-laid approximately 107,000 bricks throughout the Park, using local labour and you will see for yourself, the magnificent work done by Klenton ‘Chungo’ Pickering and his team at Ground Works BVI.
Ladies and gentlemen, Tortola Pier Park was created, to not only welcome the soon-to-be approximately one million cruise ship passengers visiting our shores on an annual basis, but to also facilitate our own residents and other visitors to the islands, who can now have access to one of the best shopping, entertainment and recreational facilities in the Caribbean.
Very importantly, ladies and gentlemen, at Tortola Pier Park, we have created expanded business opportunities for many entrepreneurs and hundreds of workers.
This has already translated into a boost for the economy of the Virgin Islands and will certainly be a catalyst for economic growth, for many, many years to come.
As a result of Tortola Pier Park, we have seen more jobs being created in the construction industry.
We are seeing more vendors and as a result more workers being hired.
We have more taxi operators, more tour guides, more ambassadors, more security guards and more janitorial staff and in the coming months and years there will be more to come.
So far, ladies and gentlemen, this project has provided work for close to 250 persons, including 200 at the retail shops and another 50 or so at Tortola Pier Park, including service providers.
We have already seen an increase in the number of Cruise Ship passengers visiting our shores and the forecast for 2016 is in excess of 700,000 passengers.
Ladies and gentlemen, this would be the largest number of Cruise Ship passengers, by far, ever to visit the British Virgin Islands.
This number is expected to climb to approximately one million over the next 24 months.
I was pleased to meet an elderly BVIslander yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, a former Teacher of mine, who indicated his pleasure in investing in this project and was filled with excitement at the prospect of receiving a solid return on his investment in this the Tortola Pier Park.
My Teacher, I can assure you, as Minister responsible for this project, under the direction of Premier Dr. D. Orlando Smith, that your investment is already worth its while, where you are guaranteed a return in excess of 6% per annum.
This is certainly better than what you would receive, if your money sat on a CD at the banks, earning 1%.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like you to give a round of applause to those investors who had the faith and belief in this project, that will benefit them personally and the entire Territory of the Virgin Islands.
I am pleased to report that between July and December 2015, we collected rental revenue at the Tortola Pier Park, in excess of $350,000, already.
Projected annual revenue is expected to be approximately $2.3 million.
Tortola Pier Park, what you see here today, stands as a testament to the resolve of the Government of Premier Dr. Orlando Smith, to develop the infrastructure of these islands and guarantee a better tomorrow for generations now and those to come.
Ladies and gentlemen, it would be remiss of me, if I didn’t remember the initial works done on this Cruise Pier, by the late Chief Minister Honourable H. Lavity Stoutt, when he first opened it in 1994.
I would also give credit to former Premier, Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal OBE, Member Emeritus of the House of Assembly and his Government, for carrying out further upgrades to the Pier, during his Term of Office.
Ladies and gentlemen, it would also be remiss of me, if I didn’t paint in the annals of history, the one individual who was most instrumental in the development of Cruise Tourism in this Territory, the late Honourable Cyril B. Romney.
It is my hope and expectation, that before I leave Office, the name Cyril B. Romney, will be a more prominent feature of this Cruise Pier Park.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to thank my colleagues in Government for their support of this major infrastructural project, undertaken through the Ministry of Communications and Works.
We had a vision in 2012 to carry out this project, in order to guarantee the sustainability of our vital Cruise Tourism Industry and I am very pleased that we not only had the foresight, but the courage to forge ahead.
To all of the public servants, thank you for the roles you played in bringing this project to fruition,
• especially my own staff at the Ministry of Communications and Works, including former Permanent Secretary Mrs. Arlene Smith-Thompson, Acting PS Mr. Gary Penn and current Permanent Secretary Mr. Anthony McMaster;
• the Financial Secretary and his team at the Ministry of Finance;
• the former Chairmen and Members of the BVI Ports Authority Board, including Mr. Greg Adams, Mr. Gene Creque, Mr. Ed De Castro and present Chairman Mrs. Jennifer Potter-Questelles;
• the former Managing Directors of the BVI Ports Authority throughout the life of this project - Mr. Vincent O’Neal, Mr. Claude Skelton-Cline and now Acting Managing Director Mr. Al Henley; and
• the Director of Tortola Pier Park, Mr. Anghel George, members, management and staff, including CEO Dona Regis.
As Minister for Communications and Works, I also thank all of the contractors and their workers, including the youngest contractor, Craig ‘Push Pop” Lake.
We also want to thank for the major work done on the cruise pier itself, Mr Percy Rhoden and IDL Meridian.
I am very proud of our own local Project Manager Dion Stoutt, who has delivered a magnificent construction project.
Today is a Red Letter Day, as a result of the strong partnership fostered between the Government of the Virgin Islands, the BVI Ports Authority, Magical Cruise Company Limited or Disney Cruise Line and its Vice President Karl Holtz, represented today by Russel Daya – Director for Marine Port, Security Operations and Maritime Affairs and his team; and from Norwegian Cruise Line – Senior Vice President Destination and Port Operations Colin Murphy, as well as Vice President Marine and Technical Operations Bert Swets and Manager for Port Adventures Research & Development Arnaldo Zanonato, represented here today by Andrew Duckworth, Director for Destination Development.
Thank you for your vote of confidence in the British Virgin Islands.
We also wish to thank all of the other cruise lines who are now visiting and those who are in discussions with us, to visit, within the next 24 months.
This Tortola Pier Park would not be successful without the vote of confidence by the business owners in the Park, 100% of which are either locally owned or locally joint venture owned.
We continue to be a destination of choice for hundreds of thousands of cruise passengers on an annual basis and I am extremely pleased that we have been able to improve the visitor experience of our guests.
For those of us who live here, Tortola Pier Park is open to welcome you as well.
Come on down and support the businesses here and enjoy the other amenities and facilities.
One very important thing we do ask, is that you do your part, to help us, to maintain this investment, for what it's worth to our immediate and long term future.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure that you will be extremely pleased with the level of investment your Government continues to make, in all aspects of the Territory’s development.
I am pleased to be a Member of the Government, led by Premier Dr. D. Orlando Smith, who will go down, firmly, in the annals of the history of the Virgin Islands, for being, by far, the leader of Government, that made the largest capital investment ever, for projects, that would benefit this Territory for a long time, in all areas.
Ladies and gentlemen, when this chapter of the history books are written, historians will write, that Dr. D. Orlando Smith’s Government, invested in excess of $600 million, in his three Terms of Office, as follows:
1. Approximately $200 million on Airports Development;
2. $150 million in Health, with a new state-of-the-art hospital in Road Town, Tortola; a new mini hospital in Virgin Gorda; and upgrades to clinics in Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, East End and Carrot Bay;
3. Approximately $100 million in Sea Ports Development;
4. $50 million in new Roads Infrastructural Development;
5. $50 million in Electricity and Renewable Energy Development;
6. $25 million in Sewerage and Water Works;
7. $10 million in Schools; and
8. $5 for City Development.
On top of that, ladies and gentlemen, Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. D. Orlando Smith, must not be afraid to toot his horn and declare, that his Government invested $600 million in the Territory’s growth and development.
On top of that, at the end of his term, three years from now, he is intending to leave $100 million in the Government’s reserves for a rainy day, $50 million of which is already there.
Now tell me ladies and gentlemen, what is it to say about that?!
That Dr. D. Orlando Smith Government is a broke Government?
Write it down, ladies and gentlemen, $600 million in capital projects and $100 million in reserves for the Territory, expected at the end of this Term of Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. D. Orlando Smith’s Administration.
What a major boost for the economy of the Virgin Islands, now and in the years to come!
Premier, don’t be afraid to stand and take a bow!
I also want to take the time to individually recognize and thank my other colleagues in Government for their support of this project.
Once again, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming here today to celebrate the Official Grand Opening of the Tortola Pier Park Project.
God bless you all and God bless these beautiful Virgin Islands.