The Government of the Virgin Islands is preparing to welcome a new tourism board following the expiry of the term of the previous board on July 31st, 2022.
Premier Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley told the House of Assembly recently that ahead of the expiration date, his government had been proactive with beginning the process of identifying candidates for a new board.
“On the 8th of July 2022, advertisements were published inviting persons who are interested in serving on the BVI Tourist Board to submit their applications. The deadline for submission was the 16th of July 2022, and we are in the process of considering applications to make selections”, he said.
Premier Wheatley, in commending the outgoing board on their service, said that even in the face of the severe adversities brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic to the local and international tourism and travel industries, the BVI Tourist Board managed to perform exceptionally in its role – and for that is owed great thanks.
He told the HOA, “The outgoing board has been a hard-working one and on behalf of the government and the people of the Virgin Islands, I wish to thank the members for their service. I also want to thank and congratulate the Chairman Mrs. Kenisha Sprauve for her commendable leadership of the board.”
The premier noted that, as a result of this hard work, BVI tourism is showing continued signs of healthy resurgence. Evident by arrival figures of 202,000 visitors in the first 4 months of 2022. This figure included 140,000 cruise ship passengers, 60,287 overnight guests and 1,949 day trippers.
Dr. Wheatley who is also the Minister of Tourism noted the following highlights of the work conducted by the outgoing board:
“The Board ensured that the BVITB has a working strategic plan to assist them in moving the organization forward on a clear path.”
“The Board ensured that the BVITB was relocated to a new space which would provide employees with a comfortable environment giving them a sense of home.”
“One of the first initiatives of the Board was to conduct an internal Human Resource audit for the organization. The Board saw to the updating of the HR Policies to ensure a fair and level playing field for all staff members.”
“During the handling of the pandemic the BVITB partnered with the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College to design the Gold Seal Programme, which prepared the industry for welcoming guests back to our shores and to also elevate the service excellence throughout the Virgin Islands.”
“Under the leadership of the Board we were able to restore tourism during a pandemic to allow our industry partners to reach new levels of occupancy and provide locals with opportunities to create jobs within the tourism industry such as Charter companies, water taxis and concierge services to assist guests in planning their vacation.”
“The BVITB ensured that guests were greeted year-round at the Road Town Ferry Terminal with steel pan music to start the guest experience on a high note. LIVE entertainment was also provided at all Ports of Entry during the busiest times of the year.”
“The BVITB restored the “Smallest Post Office in the Caribbean” in Virgin Gorda.”
“It renovated two lookout sites on Virgin Gorda and created a third. Equipped with a mounted telescope, these sites allow visitors to experience our magnificent hillside vistas on purpose-built platforms as their tour guides relate to the parts of the Virgin Islands story.”
“Most recently, the BVITB completed not one, but four island signs, in each of our main islands. These signs have already attracted many visitors for photo opportunities and have created additional value on island tours, which is excellent for our taxi drivers and tour guides. The signs have been painted by local artists depicting historical and cultural scenes that resonate with the unique character of each island.”
THE WORK IS CONTINUING
The Premier also highlighted several ongoing initiatives which the board had begun before the end of its tenure:
“BVI Flags and BVILOVE flags are being erected on the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at Beef Island to add excitement to our visitors entering through the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport.”
“The BVITB is currently in the planning stages in regards to constructing the Trellis Bay waiting area and the Carrot Bay Heritage Village to showcase the BVI’s culture, just to name a few.”
“The BVITB is in the process of providing current Olympians with a stipend to assist them and also for them to assist the BVI by having them promote the destination through sports tourism.”
“The BVITB Marketing team will be attending Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas in August and CHTA Marketplace in Puerto Rico in October, to ensure that Destination BVI remains front of mind with the luxury Travel Agents and Tour Operators who specialize in promoting destinations like the BVI.”
The premier noted that the next Tourism Board will continue preparation for a major brand engagement set for 2023, which will see brand BVI paired with internationally recognized, luxury brands to assist in showcasing the territory’s tourism product across international feeder markets.