Ag. Deputy Chief Information Officer
Department of Information & Public Relations
A new beginning for the tourism industry in the Virgin Islands was declared today, as the newly expanded Cruise Pier was officially opened.
This morning at 7:30 a.m. the Norwegian Getaway made its inaugural call to the Port of Road Town; on time for the opening ceremony.
Premier and Minster of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, Minister for Communications and Works, Honourable Mark Vanterpool and other special dignitaries were on the dock to welcome the Norwegian Getaway Cruise Ship to the port as well as award a couple with a dream vacation package.
This gesture symbolised a new beginning for the Territory in opening its shores to more tourists and developing stronger international relationships.
Governor, His Excellency John S. Duncan, OBE, expressed his congratulations to the Government and its vision in making the pier a reality. He added that Virgin Islanders should be proud and that the pier profiles the Territory’s high quality culture.
Governor Duncan said, “As a gateway to our Territory (the Cruise Pier) it will play an important role in maintaining tourism as a key pillar in the Virgin Islands economy. A shop window to Nature’s Little Secrets, where the type and quality of customer services offered are not only friendly and welcoming but amongst the best in the region.”
Premier Smith in remarks said that the Government is strengthening the BVI’s tourism product and providing training to accommodate the growing sector.
“We are improving our customer service experience by training our frontline Customs and Immigration staff, as well as our taxi operators. We have partnered to strengthen the core of the BVI’s tourism product and its reputation by ensuring that our people are ready to respond to the rapid growth of commerce, and deliver excellent customer service at all levels,” said Premier Smith.
The Cruise Pier Expansion and Landside Development Project is placed under the portfolio of the Ministry of Communications and Works, and the Minister, Honourable Mark Vanterpool stated that his goal is to develop the Territory to help secure a brighter future for all.
Minister Vanterpool said, “We have worked extremely hard to ensure that the infrastructure of the Virgin Islands is maintained and improved according to international standards.” He added, “With that will come the necessary amenities and facilities, to ensure that our cruise ship passengers are properly welcomed and entertained here, hence the landside development.”
Leader of the Opposition, Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal was also present to give his remarks for the historic occasion. Honourable O’Neal provided a brief history lesson on the Road Harbor and what it means for the Territory today.
He said, “What we see here today is a continuation of what started many years ago and from what I have been reading about the other islands, we have to catch up, otherwise we will find ourselves lagging. So I am very glad to see what has been done here today and a time will come when we have to do more because tourism is growing.”
Other speakers at the opening ceremony included the Chairman of the Board of BVI Ports Authority, Mr. J. Edward de Castro, Managing Director of BVI Ports Authority, Mr. Claude O. Skelton Cline, Senior Vice President of Destination and Port Operations, Norwegian, Mr. Colin Murphy, Senior Vice President of Operations, Disney, Mr. Anthony Connelly and IDL/ Meridian Joint Venture Representative, Mr. Richard Starkey.
The Opening ceremony ended with an anchor drop by Government officials and a plaque presentation to the captain of the Norwegian Getaway Cruise Ship.
The Mission of the Government of the Virgin Islands through the Ministry of Communications and Works is to build the infrastructure of the Virgin Islands and enhance the quality of life for its people and visitors.