Remarks by PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
BVILOVE LAUNCH TOURISM CAMPAIGN
Monday, 21st September,2020
Today is another great day for the people of the Virgin Islands.
We are moving forward with BVILOVE.
During an innovation business symposium in December 2019, I announced that the Government of the Virgin Islands was moving forward with a rigorous economic development and diversification strategy, in which we developed and incorporated the concept of BVILOVE which is tied to our aggressive “green and innovative” legislative agenda for 2020.
We launched a logo at that time that was used in all Government communications and public relations.
Our focus then was to push forward, drive green innovation, introduce green diversification, and revitalise green expansion of the economy through SMART strategies, empowering our people, and ensuring development all in BVILOVE.
The mantra of BVILOVE was an expression of your Government’s mission to create a green BVI where all residents and all people love living Green. This would be reflected in the way we live, work and invest in the BVI – caring for our BVI because we love our BVI.
Now, ‘The New Regular’ has come and we must readjust.
Like many other destinations we sell sun, sand and sea.
We even have a further edge with our fish and fungi.
So, we are going back to basics, with guidance from above.
We are remembering the legacy of our ancestors that was hinged on BVILOVE.
It is time to distinguish and differentiate ourselves in a fiercely competitive market as the COVID-19 era is changing the way we share our stories with each other and the world.
You would recall that in October 2019, Executives from the cruise industry visited our shores along with Ms. Michelle Paige, President of Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), and we conducted a town hall meeting with all our local stakeholders in the Tourism industry.
One of the things these top Tourism executives told us is that the market has changed from how it behaved in the years and decades gone by, and travelers have different preferences and demands.
They said, we needed to add more to our Tourism product. They encouraged us to create unique experiences built around the personality of our people, our history and culture to complement our traditional offerings.
Industry experts are reporting that the largest and fastest growing segment of the Tourism market is millennials in an area being called Experience Tourism. Studies show that 72 percent of millennials prefer spending more money on unique experiences rather than on material things.
Travelers are tired or bored of cookie-cutter vacations in touristy hot spots.
They are looking for an authentic experience in their travel destination, just as the industry executives have told us. Tourists, especially the millennials, want a brand that will allow them to mingle with the locals and experience the culture of the people.
If we want to be competitive, we must tell the world our secret.
It is simple. Our secret is BVILOVE.
BVILOVE is our brand which simple means ‘Love Our Virgin Islands Every day.’
During the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and even now as everyone is coping with the restrictions of the COVID-19 era, we have seen the outpouring of love for each other.
Those who have experienced BVILOVE, are all on the online forums asking when they can come back to the BVI for holidays. You see, they have fallen in love with our natural brand, BVILOVE!
So, BVILOVE is a natural and appropriate fit for our new brand.
BVILOVE is goodwill that we have built up and it is something that is in our hand—in fact it is in our DNA.
BVILOVE is our smile, our good mornings, our good afternoons, our prayers, our hospitality. BVILOVE is who we are as a people.
The time has come for us to make a paradigm shift in the way we market our Territory. Hence BVILOVE will not be our Tourism brand, but it will be our brand for the Territory in all sectors.
People must love living in the BVI.
People must love working in the BVI.
People must love doing business in the BVI.
People must love investing in the BVI.
In everything we do we must love our BVI, and we must let this show.
In everything we do we must aim for excellence – and we do it because we love our BVI.
The question that everyone is asking, when will the BVI reopen to welcome our friends from abroad to experience BVILOVE.
Let me pause now so that you can get your answer through a presentation.
Every country that re-opened to tourists and travellers alike faced their own challenges with the Coronavirus. However, we can be very optimistic because we are vigorously preparing for our re-opening to welcome back our tourists, among others on December 1, 2020.
We have two full months to prepare and we must get it right and we must get it done—all of us working together—Government, private sector, the public working together with BVILOVE.
Whatever measures are to be used, we must use technology and testing as the main stay in our re-opening for tourists and others.
We cannot run away from it.
The fact remains that we have to be able to re-open up our economy and to re-open up our economy the safest way using science and technology to guide us.
What will help us is what is unique about us, which is our size, our culture and our people who are resilient. These are what we have to rely on.
This next phase also comes with a risk factor, where if a case of COVID-19 gets into our Territory, then it can go through the whole community very quickly. That is why we have to use technology. The concentration must be to use the technology through a simulation prior, to demonstrate that the technology will complement the science to greatly assist us in re-opening in the safest way, humanly possible.
Please note that we who are in the Virgin Islands must also play our part and play it well be ensuring that we adhere to all approved social distancing measures.
This will also reduce or eliminate any possible spread of the virus.
However, with our size being a strength, it can also be a weakness and a major risk factor that if the spreading of the virus ever occurs; it can spread through the community very, very fast.
We have to mitigate this, and you may ask how do we do this?
By each of us, from now, holding each other accountable thereby ensuring that we wear our masks, staying six feet apart, washing our hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds minimum, sanitising, along with adhering to all other approved social measure protocols—for us individually and for each business—we can successfully operate in this “New Regular” of the COVID-19 era.
You may ask, can we do more to mitigate any community spread?
The answer is YES.
Respect the authorities who are enforcing the approved social measures. These include the Social Distancing Task Force, Environmental Health and the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.
Avoid getting a ticket for not wearing your mask or for not adhering to all the other social measures.
Please, in this case, do not pay to learn.
Play your part and play it well.
We must be a disciplined people in order for the re-opening of our borders to tourist and others to work effectively and reduce risk.
Is there more that can be done to mitigate any spread?
The answer is still YES.
Through our requisite officials we have to use contact tracing methods available through technology where we will test and retest the system prior to our re-opening. That is why we need the time to ensure the measures that are going to be put in place are working effectively.
All Boards, agencies, and sectors of Government, the private sector and the public will be engaged so that no one will be left out, so we can explain the measures to be rolled out and get further input because WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER.
We will meet with BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association, car rental companies, hoteliers, personnel from Crafts Alive, airline operators, marine sector, taxi operators, restaurant owners, villas operators; NO business will be left behind. WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER.
We need to get moving now and thoroughly prepare because the future belongs to the prepared.
For our re-opening date of December 1, 2020, to welcome back our tourists, among others, to become a reality, we all have to work together and we have to cooperate with the authorities.
Businesses must be able to meet the standards for the re-opening of our borders to welcome back our tourist, among others.
We have one shot at this.
So let us prepare, aim and hit our target.
So, we now have a new look, a new feel, a new perspective, and most of all in the midst of The New Regular, we have BVILOVE.
I wish to say here that there is a green leaf in the BVILOVE logo.
Let me tell you about that.
The green leaf on the BVILOVE logo is that of our White Cedar, our Territorial Tree.
The White Cedar tree is important to our culture and our people because the bark or wood of the tree was used to make the stern, stern posts and frame of our famous Virgin Islands sloop.
The green leaf represents growth, drive, innovation, green diversification, revitalisation, green expansion, SMART strategies, development, personal and professional empowerment.
I congratulate the BVI Tourist Board for championing BVILOVE.
I am pleased that the Government of the Virgin Islands, all Ministries, Departments, statutory agencies are all working together with BVILOVE.
I look forward to everyone participating, collaborating and cooperating in this new direction of our Territory.
Having this fresh perspective and this new branding for the BVI as a destination is important in creating the excitement and the interest we want as we prepare ourselves to reopen our borders to visitors.
There is a lot we can benefit from, both individually and as a country, by embracing BVILOVE and spreading BVILOVE.
Together we will inspire the world and let them know that BVILOVE is what makes our visitor experience unique and above all others.
I thank you and we’re in this together with BVILOVE.
We thank GOD for this new day, and this new direction!