Information Officer II
The British Virgin Islands tourism sector continues a pattern of growth, as indicated by an increase in overnight visitor arrivals during 2016.
According to figures recently released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) of the Government of the Virgin Islands, there were 406,027 overnight visitors documented at the end of 2016. This marks the first time in history that the BVI has topped the 400,000 overnight visitor mark. Also, over the five-year period from 2012 to 2016, overnight arrivals increased by 15.5 percent for an annual percentage growth rate of 3.1 percent.
During his Budget Address themed: ‘Charting the Course: Positioning the Virgin Islands for the Future’ on January 16, Premier and Minister for Tourism, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE commented on the visitor arrival growth, stating that a strong performance by the tourism sector is indicative that the economy is still robust and that his Government has a number of initiatives outlined in the 2017 Budget aimed at growing the sector further.
Premier Smith said he is pleased with the hard work of all the tourism industry partners, adding, “They work with a common purpose to create a great experience for our guests that leaves a lasting positive impression that we are indeed a top tier destination.”
Honourable Premier also commended the BVI Tourist Board for ensuring the British Virgin Islands brand is still resounding positively with travellers in major markets in North America, Europe and the Caribbean.
“The BVI Tourist Board has been successful in its efforts at navigating what has been a challenging year for tourism in the BVI with impacts such as the closure of Rosewood Little Dix Bay and Biras Creek Resorts and the Zika virus,” said the Premier.
Director of Tourism, Mrs. Sharon Flax-Brutus said the BVI Tourist Board has continued to heavily promote villa accommodations while vacation home rentals and the yachting sector have reaped dividends.
Mrs. Flax-Brutus also said the board will continue with aggressive and innovative programmes to promote the British Virgin Islands in the international markets including the recently announced initiative of the Territory as the exclusive Caribbean destination sponsor of the 2017 Miami Open and establishing a greater presence in Canada.
The board will also intensify the efforts of the One BVI Public Awareness Campaign, which aims to build the BVI’s tourism profile by creating greater awareness of the importance of tourism; improving service standards through training and reinforcement; and enhancing the aesthetic appearance of the Territory through cleanliness and beautification.
To that end, Mrs. Flax-Brutus said, “We want every resident of the BVI, from the kindergarten to senior citizens, to exemplify the spirit of One BVI when interacting with our guests by carrying out our common purpose of ‘creating happiness when we work together to provide lasting British Virgin Islands memories’.”
The CSO report also revealed that cruise visitors and day trippers grew at almost the same rate over 2015 with increases of 35 percent and 36 percent respectively. In 2016, a total of 699,105 visitors arrived via cruise ship and 17,539 visited as day trippers.
The Government of the Virgin Islands continues to promote Destination BVI as a unique travel experience like none other.
Premier and Minister for Tourism, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE (Photo credit: GIS)