Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE is looking forward to another strong year from the tourism sector, as Government of the Virgin Islands continues with its focused and strategic efforts in the further development of the sector.
While delivering his 2015 Budget Address, Premier Smith stated, “It is clear that these efforts in tourism have yielded much fruit, with this sector now promising to grow and be a stronger contributor to our economy in the years to come. Ultimately this means increased opportunities for our people.”
The Premier noted that by creating an environment of progress and investment, the restaurant and hotel sector grew by three-point-nine percent in 2013; in contrast to the two-point-two percent decline experienced by the sector in previous years.
Figures presented during the 2015 Budget Address indicate that overnight tourist arrivals for 2013 have increased by four-point-two percent over 2012. This resulted in a record number of more than 365,000 overnight visitors.
Meanwhile, the BVI Tourist Board continues to work to build the BVI brand among target markets. As a result of the BVI Tourist Board’s investment in the niche market of Meetings, Investments, Conferences and Exhibits (MICE), the Virgin Islands is now a spotlight destination for meetings and incentives planners.
The BVI Tourist Board has also launched a new marketing program with a US villa operator that has resulted in a 36 percent increase in villa bookings over 2013 – converting to over $1.8 million in revenue.
During the year, as a destination, the Territory has received several awards and accolades. Virgin Gorda was voted by the readers of Travel and Leisure as the “Top Island in The Caribbean.” It was also ranked number eight in the top 10 overall islands, and is the only Caribbean island in the top 10.
The Bitter End Yacht Club was voted number four while Scrub Island Resort was voted number eight in the Bermuda and Bahamas category of the magazine’s World’s Best Hotels for Families awards announced in the November 2014 issue. The BVI also won two Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. In the Top 30 Islands of the World category, the BVI was voted number 24. In the category of Top 100 Hotels and Resorts of the World, Guana Island Resort was featured at number 42.
In addition, the BVI was voted the Best Destination in the Caribbean by the Global Traveller; and has won Travel Weekly’s Silver Magellan Award for Best Travel Destination.
The Government of the Virgin Islands remains committed to strengthening the tourism sector and promoting the Territory as a premier travel destination.