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Don’t dumb down, BVI not ready for cruise ships – Turnbull

Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull

Disagreement is now brewing in the Dr D Orlando Smith-led government following yesterday’s official return of cruise ships to the British Virgin Islands.

Government backbencher Melvin Turnbull yesterday said it was a mistake to invite tourists back to the territory now, and asserted that neither he nor his constituents in Cane Garden Bay will be supporting the move.

The Representative of the Second Electoral District also publicly refuted Premier Smith’s claim that the territory was open for business.

Turnbull said government was lowering what he described as the usually-high standard of BVI’s tourism brand.

“I will not allow for the businesses in Cane Garden Bay to set up tents to serve any of our tourists. We have a standard that we have to uphold in this territory of the Virgin Islands, and it must not be dumbed down that we have to say that we are opened for business and we are ready to receive people when in fact that we are not,” Turnbull said.

“I am a bit disturbed,” he lamented, adding that government was making decisions without consulting residents.

Turnbull further claimed that government was ‘rushing’ to get visitors back, though his badly-affected Cane Garden Bay constituency – a major tourist destination – is still in need of attention.

“No one has come to Cane Garden Bay to help with cleanup from a governmental standpoint,” lamented Turnbull who said he will be rallying residents at the weekend for a cleanup exercise.

He said divers will also be hired to remove debris from the sea.

“If we have to do it ourselves, I am going to stick with my people [until] we get to a place where we are comfortable and helping businesses to get back to where they can serve our tourists, as well as those who live in this territory, in excellence. We will keep our standard,” said Turnbull.

He added: “I don’t think we are ready, I don’t think the BVI was ready [to accept tourists]… I will stand my ground and I will make my voice known for the people which I represent.”

Vistors are safe

The Marella Discovery was the first sizable cruise ship to have returned since the September hurricanes and was welcomed by the Premier and other officials when it docked at the cruise ship pier on Tortola yesterday.

Another ship is expected to arrive today.

Local tourism officials said visitors are being brought to destinations that are ‘tourist-ready’, such as the Long Bay/Beef Island beach. Government said it set up tents at the location to serve visitors.

“No (it is not risky). We have put their safety first and we have directed persons to areas that are open and the areas that are safe,” said Marketing Manager of the BVI Tourist Board, Keith Dawson.

“The feedback from the persons on the ship has been good. Some have said even though they find a lot of places are not open, they are happy to come off and want to support the local community,” he added.

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