With the anticipation of an influx of tourist arrivals coinciding with the commencement of direct flights between Miami and Tortola via American Airlines on June 1, 2023, Premier Dr the Honourable Natalio Wheatley is urging Virgin Islanders to do their part to help the territory reap the maximum benefits of the new opportunity.

One of the ways which he believes that residents can get directly involved is by helping to beef up the territory’s accommodative capacity by adapting their homes as rental properties through the AirBnB platform. 

Wheatley began discussions on the topic during his budget address when he said “I also encourage Virgin Islanders to invest in villas, small to medium sized hotels and consider renting your existing properties as AirBnBs. Greater visitor numbers will present opportunities to share in the tourist pie.” 

Following the announcement of the new flight schedule, Dr. Wheatley doubled down on this call for action citing the territory’s unique position given its high levels of land ownership.

“The good thing about AirBnBs is that you can use your own house. One thing that we have in the Virgin Islands that has helped to elevate us and propel us is land ownership… you can have land to build your home but you can also build a business,” he said.

“Anyone can get involved,” he added. 

Wheatley went on to encourage persons who have been seeking employment opportunities to use this time to invest in the tourism sector.

“We also have persons who want to be able to invest and we are calling on those persons to invest… We’ve given pioneer status to many persons… We have the Investment Act now where we have a legislative regime to offer incentives to any persons who are investing in the Virgin Islands locally or those who have come from abroad to invest”, he said. 

Premier Wheatley stressed that with this new opportunity on the horizon, the private sector and the people of the Virgin Islands have a responsibility to do their part so that when the tourists arrive they are ready to provide services to them.