Premier Andrew Fahie has labelled the re-opening of the Taddy Bay International Airport as a victory for the people of Virgin Gorda and the British Virgin Islands, stating that it will significantly boost tourism on the sister island, ultimately impacting the territory’s economy.
Premier Fahie made the comments to 284News following the landing of the first single engine aircraft at the Virgin Gorda airport on Tuesday November 23.
He said his government was cognizant of the issues being faced with the airport on the sister island and made it a priority to get the airport back up and running.
“As we all know that I said our economy and tourism were going into overdrive and the people of Virgin Gorda with their representatives and even one At Large that lives on Virgin Gorda Honourable Shereen Flax-Charles, were adamant that we had to get certain things done on Virgin Gorda and we know that,” he stated.
He added, “So we were able to get the funding needed to get the Virgin Gorda airport the attention it needed, the refurbishment that it needed, the Welcome Centre that is now needed of course with COVID, the road that hasn’t been done in years and even to get the lifting of the ban for single engine planes to come in that has been there for more than 20 years now. So we were able to do a lot but it’s only because of the goodness of God.”
The Premier also said that there is presently a demand to have direct international flights into the Taddy Bay International Airport, and he also hinted that soon the same will be done for Auguste George International Airport in Anegada.
He said, “More tourists, there’s an appetite for bookings to come Virgin Gorda directly from Puerto Rico, Anguilla, St. Martin and so many other places and they can come right now with international flights and we’re right now working on the same thing with Anegada. As you would know we just installed the lights, we just had the test run and it’s been approved now. I understand this morning we got approval for the international flights from the regulatory body, so things are coming together like they’ve never been for quite some years in tourism for the economy overall.”
Huge for tourism
District Representative Vincent Wheatley shared similar sentiments to Premier Fahie, adding that it made him a bit nostalgic, bringing back memories from his childhood.
“For me it has taken me down the nostalgic route. As a child we often travelled by plane to Beef Island, that trip however was three dollars five minutes. Today this plane is a much faster plane, this has opened up a whole new avenue to getting tourists from the outside world into Virgin Gorda. You can fly directly from Puerto Rico or St. Thomas now to Virgin Gorda. That is huge for tourism because tourists want to leave New York or London and be in the BVI that same day, this here makes that possible,” he explained.
Important to have airport running
Meanwhile, Territorial At Large Representative Shereen Flax-Charles, who is also a Virgin Gordian, spoke to the importance of having the local airport operational once again.
She said, “When that plane landed it brought tears to my eyes. We haven’t seen that for a while but from a tourism perspective, even for medical evacuations in the daytime, it is so important that we have this airport up and running. We have many persons who simply prefer to fly into Virgin Gorda directly and they have that opportunity to do so.”
“It will bring lots of revenue to Virgin Gorda and by extension the entire British Virgin Islands and working together to get this airport opened was a task but there were many players and the entire community came forward to ensure that with the help of the government, it was done,” the Junior Minister for Trade added.