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The Virgin Islands made history when Ms. Naomi Onwufuju was recently crowned Regional “Junior Ambassador of Tourism” at the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Youth Congress held in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Ms Onwufuju, a student at the Elmore Stoutt High School competed against representatives from 14 other Caribbean Islands and is the first Virgin Islands Ambassador to secure this prestigious title.
In her presentation at the 2023 Regional Tourism Conference, Naomi stated that the Virgin Islands, the epitome of natural beauty, is not just any tourist destination; it is a paradise that should be enjoyed by all. Accessibility she said is not only a responsible tourism policy, but also a moral obligation.
The BVI Airports Authority (the Authority) celebrated Naomi’s achievements at a ceremony at the TB Lettsome International Airport. The event was addressed by Junior Minister of Tourism Honourable Luce Smith, representatives of the Ministry of Communications and Works, the Authority's Sole Shareholder, the Director of Tourism, and members of the Authority's Board, and its executive team.
Honourable Hodge-Smith recounted Naomi's journey from winning the local title to the regional competition, where the VI was announced as the champion. She praised the student's calm demeanor during the competition and her eloquent responses to her mystery questions. Honourable Hodge-Smith also recognised Naomi's family, teacher, and the BVI Tourist Board for their dedicated efforts in preparing her for this momentous achievement.Deputy Financial Secretary, Dr. Drexel Glasgow represented the Financial Secretary at the ceremony and expressed his joy at seeing the VI's success on the regional stage. He commended Naomi for her commitment and hard work, adding, "It is a good feeling to see the VI bring things home, we expect to see great things from you and wish you the best as you progress."
Managing Director at the BVI Airports Authority Mr. Kurt Menal congratulated Naomi and extended the Authority’s support by offering her an internship opportunity during school breaks. Mr. Menal also emphasised the essential role of the airports in the tourism infrastructure, particularly regarding accessibility, and encouraged young people to consider the airport as an option for employment and a choice of career.
He said, “The BVI Airports Authority is fully committed to inspiring other young people in the Virgin Islands to become ambassadors for tourism, and to consider the airport as an option for employment, I encourage you to look to Naomi's journey as a testament of what one can achieve with vision and persistence.”
Meanwhile, Director of Tourism, Mr. Clive McCoy, celebrated Naomi's victory and underscored its significance for the Territory and its tourism industry. He said, “This win marks the beginning of the VI's winning streak as we intend to bring home the title every year going forward”.
McCoy also recognised his hardworking and dedicated team at the BVI Tourist Board who assisted Naomi with her preparations for her historic win.
Chairman of the Board Mr. Theodore Burke said he recognised tourism as the lifeblood of the Virgin Islands and celebrated Naomi's role in promoting the Territory as a top destination. He said, “it is our belief that your efforts will undoubtedly boost tourism and make the VI's airports the front doors to exciting adventures, relaxation, discovery, and unforgettable experiences.”
Another speaker at the event was Mrs. Elvia Smith-Maduro who represented the Ministry of Communications and Works.
The BVI Airports Authority also recognised their stakeholders Seven-Fourteen Cafe and Silver Airlines for their generous contributions to Naomi for her accomplishments.
The British Virgin Islands Airports Authority is responsible for managing and operating the airports of the British Virgin Islands and is dedicated to ensuring the accessibility and convenience of air travel to and from the British Virgin Islands, promoting tourism, and providing an exceptional travel experience for visitors and residents alike.