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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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45 Comments

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  1. Albion says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 22

    “I will not allow for the businesses in Cane Garden Bay to set up tents to serve any of our tourists.”

    No offence, Mitch. But I don’t think you have any kind of power to stop people doing that. People are glad for the work, the tourists I met yesterday all seem to be glad to be here and sympathetic to our plight.

    Maybe you should keep your churlishness locked up at home.

  2. Reply says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 6

    There has to be a balance here in the country’s approach to getting back on its feet. While there is much to be done to get the BVI back to is pre-Irma state, the fact is it will take some time and significant resources, specifically financial resources, in order to do so.

    The country cannot sit back indefinitely, imo, and not try to get the economy going again to begin generating some revenues… cash that is desperately needed to aid its reconstruction.

    The economy has to get moving soon to keep it from getting worse. Money, i.e. revenues has to come from some where fast, or else the government will have no choice other than to cut some government services and or start laying off people as the economy retracts. It’s a tough reality.

    It is not practical or reasonable to have the country on standstill until things get back to normal which reasonable minds will agree will take some time. The country has to keep moving as best it can.

    On another note, using this same line of argument, I believe that the extended curfew should end soon especially in areas that has restored electricity. The government needs to get the economy rolling again, and if business activity is continually being suppressed, the economy will take longer to recover.

    This extended curfew while important and serves a purpose needs to be lifted as soon as possible. It is hampering the restoration of the economy at this time as businesses cannot operate fully which suppresses revenues, and by extension the overall economy.

    In my opinion, there has to be a balance between the security and safety concerns of the country with the need to generate revenues.

    Lets be clear, the BVI does not have the billions needed to rebuild on its own. The more money it can bring in on its own, even under less than ideal circumstances, the less money the government will have to borrow. A higher debt will affect us all in terms of higher cost of living, which was ridiculous to begin before the hurricane.

    As such, imo, shutting down the county indefinitely until things look perfect is not the way to go. The more money coming in, the quicker the economy and life can get back to normal.

    • Bvi resident says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

      Thank you, you speak with lots of wisdom.

    • Reader says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

      I too concur…

    • Zoey says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      Yes, business has to to go on, but Mitch is right in a lot of what he says, just not said well. The Premier and his close buddies need to think about repair and replace of infrastructure and FORGET about the D… new airport. Take it OFF THE TABLE!

    • Paul and Brenda Benson says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      Paul and Brenda Benson from Canada. My wife and I travel to the BVI’s for a month each year and will do so again in January. The note above is right on the mark. If the country does not encourage tourism; tourists will not return. Frequent updates and promotion of tourism is needed more than ever to help fund a speedy recovery. A large percenatge of tourists are boaters like ouselves. A quick recovery of this sector will help finance restoration of infrastructure.

    • Legalize It says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      I agree. For the country to rebound, the revenue stream must be restored.

      Unfortunately, my disappointment surged when the government announced a 100% cut in import duties on some items, when later, these very items were sold at above pre-Irma prices. Foolish I may say, but that authority lies with the elected officials.

      Challenging as it may for the Government, its make little or no economic sense from their point of view if their revenue stream is significantly cut, yet the cost of the country’s operation increases. Are our elected representatives financing same with borrowings and more borrowings. The IMF, WB and other financial devils will love the BVI.

  3. SERPICO says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 7

    What about the safety of our people and those we invite here to work and reside Mr. Dawson? Turnbull is right to state his opposition to this nonsense.

  4. Sam the man says:

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 11

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

  5. Jacob says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

    Sick and tired a hear all you self. Ndp going that’s all I know.

  6. Scrutineer says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 4

    The key is in the marketing! Post Irma tours should now be sold not “paradise” cos paradise is what it is not anymore.

    • Leadership says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      My sentiments exactly…i’m sure there are lots of hurricane hunters out there…we ourselves marvel at the damage.

      • Legalize It says:

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        On point.

        That’s what many (not all of course) tourist want to see, first hand destruction/impact…The ‘Ooh my God’ ‘Jeeze’ ‘wow’ ‘this is some crazy $h!t’ experience. Many may have preferred to be here earlier, but national security issues together with other factors dictated otherwise.

  7. Come on Guy says:

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 13

    People who sit in comfort sure have a lot of opinions on what standards everyone should accept. I get it, it’s not what we are accustomed to, but what the representative is suggesting is reckless to the say the least. I now have to question his maturity and ability if he’s going to take such a hardline.

  8. Laura says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is on the rise and government is mandated to therefore plan ahead to lower the risks and cost of the next disaster that may hit our shores but hasty rebuilding decisions should not be made. An inclusive process of decision making should be done as well as aid to assist all local area cleanup performed (albeit most areas have been doing this solo). Failing to prepare for more extreme weather would be a waste of taxpayer money but on the other hand progress has to be made in order to welcome visitors back to our popular destination which will provide jobs and the hope that our residents are looking for so they can begin to rebuild their lives. We have to trod with a give and take in order to reach the ultimate goal of recovery but without risk to lives both locally and those that visit our shores. We are making significant progress in some areas, but we have a long road ahead.

    (Mitch is entitled to his opinion and it should be argued but where do we go forward if we stay stagnant and wait?)

  9. Resident says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 12

    This is the second time that Mr Turnbull is dissing his govt on public radio. While I agree with some if what he says re the country’s readiness for cruise ships I disagree with him for coming on radio to express his thoughts so publicly. His govt made the decision to allow cruise ships. His govt!!! He is not the opposition. This is the second time that I have heard him on the radio and was shocked to hear that those words were coming from an NDP rep. Take your opinions to your leader. Don’t diss your govt in public like that.

    • @ Unsolved mysteries says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 5

      He’s not dissing his gov’t, he’s speaking the truth. What are the tourists coming to see, the mess in the bay, the rutted roads, no electricity, the boarded up houses, sticks and debris on the beach? There’s a lot that needs to be done before you invite people into your home. So he has a valid point.

    • Pete says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

      The premier will get even with Mitch for going against party lines. Cane Garden will be the last to receive Government help and the Beach will be closed.

      • Sam the man says:

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

        Sadly you are right but at least he didn’t sell his soul I respect those with integrity that walk the walk not just talk the talk sadly the NDP lost its Moral compass a long time ago….

    • Real says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      For real. It looks very bad.

  10. Oh wow, says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

    Such promise! Irma has affected us all in many ways!

  11. Clearly says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 5

    Mitch is correct but this outburst means nothing to his NDP gang. They are accountable to no one other than themselves.

    • Who cares says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

      He is accountable to his constituents not ndp. Y’all will see who’s accountable come election.

  12. Long Bay? says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    Well I hope the clean-up of that beach happened this week because I was there on Sunday and it was filthy. I don’t mean from the hurricanes but from nasty people who left their food containers, water bottles, napkins, and such all over the beach. And there was a bin nearby. It was a real shame.

  13. Hmmmmmm says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

    MITCH YOU FINALLY SHOWED SOME CAJONESS . RIGHT OR WRONG DEFEND YOUR PEOPLE. SMITH IS TRYING TO JUMPSTART THE ECONOMY AND YES HE MAY MAKE SOME MISTAKES HERE AND THERE BUT PEOPLE BEING LAID OFF IS THE CURRENT STORM AFTER IRMA AND MARIA. MOVE FASTER AND GET THE BEACHES AND AREAS CLEANED UP SO THE ECONOMY CAN GET MOVING. GET WILLY-T UP AND GOING NOW SO THE PEOPLE CAN START COMING BACK. GOVERNMENT THIS IS WHAT WE PAY TAXES FOR. NOT FOR POLITICIANS PERSONAL USE BUT TO GET AND KEEP THE ECONOMY FOR ALL GOING.

  14. true says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

    Minister Turnbulle says BVI isn’t ready well NEWS FLASH Anegada is ready but wait we not part of the BVI?

  15. Strupes says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    Mitch don’t mind some of these evil NDP supporters and bloggers. There are more with you than those that are against.

  16. Leadership says:

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

    Mitch when it was your time to talk up before Irma we didn’t hear from you. Now you want to talk up but I don’t think the timing is right…Irma has given this territory a concussion…as we know with concussions…it is strongly urged for the victim to stay away until the danger period passes…BVI cannot allow itself to go dormant now in the tourist season or else many more will be on the bread line. You see what happen with Peter Island and the Moorings?? What needs to happen is that the politicians need to give strong messages of encouragement to the people to re-build. The trade regulations need to be lightened to allow more non-belonger Caribbean people to own their own businesses. Now is not the time to be attacking your leader when his chips are down. What ya’ll need to do is to push for things to happen…get the stop lights back in Road Town and Pasea so the tourists can be safe.

  17. Leadership says:

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

    Mitch now is not the time for this…this country needs as much infusion into the economy as ever…however it comes. Dr. Smith is right to open the country for business…otherwise far more people will be on the breadline. Look at Moorings and Peter Island.
    Now ya’ll see why ya’ll should not have been mis-managing the territories funds. Ya’ll got us into this mess because when ya’ll was to talk up about the nonsense that was going on…we only hear your mouths when ya’ll was signing against the good that Gov Duncan did for the people of this territory.
    Now is the time to rally around the people and get out there and encourage them to keep going….now is the time to loosen trade policies and allow non-belonger cariibean expats to get trade licences/to run their own business. Now is the time to allow small businesses to thrive since the big companies can’t afford to pay employees.
    WHERE IS THE VISION???

  18. What have you done mitch says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

    Instead of bashing the govt you are part of why have you not already got tidy up’s happening and cleaning the sea? Plus newsflash Cane is not the only beach in the BVI and most of cane has been operating out of tents before Irma so what changed??

  19. VG ANEGADA says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    The BVI is NOT Tortola alone. Anegada is certainly ready for Tourism. Virgin Gorda for sail and culinary tourism with some vacation apartments and villas up and running. We cannot shut down the entire country because Cane Garden Bay and Tortola are not ready. Get off your behinds and do what the people of Virgin Gorda and Anegada are doing and help yourselves. The entire BVI got help from donors but money alone cannot fix things. Stop waiting on government and lets help ourselves. VG STRONG, ANEGADA STRONG

  20. Pffff says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

    The things that comie out of Mitch his mouth. He is somethin else. Where is your vision. It’s alarming that these kind of people are allowed to appear on the political and governing scene. Unfortunately, this is not only saying something about political establishment, but also about us….the voters

  21. Where is the Vision? says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

    Mitch you should gave had the neighborhood clean up drives since October or November like Hon Fahie. You can’t run these things and this country on island time anymore. Please get with the programme. It’s this kind lax mentality killing us.

  22. voiceofthevoiceless says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    Mitch is wrong in the sense that not because Cane Garden Bay is in no position to accept tourists that does not mean they are not other parts of the BVI that are not. The harsh economic reality is that we must open for some tourist business or the economy will tank as we cannot depend on construction and Financial services alone. The more people we can get back to work the better especially with jobs and wages being cut so regularly. A lot of the overnight hotel properties are damaged or destroyed so if cruise tourists is all we can get then so be it as every dollar counts. It is very important that the visitations be well managed as you really don’t want to see anyone getting hurt in an accident due to bad roads so place limits on the size and number of ships allowed. Ensure that construction areas particularly in town as well secured to avoid any mishaps.

    For those who say that Mitch should not publicly criticize his leadership then I say you are wrong. Mitch was elected by the people to represent the people and if something is wrong he should speak out in particular after exhausting other more diplomatic means to get his message across.

    • The rick says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

      Mitch was elected by the people of the 2nd district, he needs to sturdy pay attention to hon Fahie, see what he did with his clean up campaign, he got his people together and they got off they backsides, now west look more beautiful, he then held village meetings with the government, now they got power and water. So Mitch stop complaining like a little child who wants candy and can’t get it, every and the rock means every dollar counts in this time!

  23. Go says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Mitch you can go.

  24. Watcher says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    What we need to do is not to make the BVI as good as it was, we need to make it better than it was. Tourists were already criticising it. We need to make the place look more presentable than it did. We need to be rid of the piles of rusting cars , trucks, back hoes, containers and other junk that made the island of Tortola look like a wreckers yard. We need better taxis. The decrepit overcrowded vehicles and the rip off fares are a national disgrace. We need a proper bus service. We need control of the noise nuisance and threatening behaviour of motor bike gangs. We need action on gun crime, not a police commissioner with his head in the sand. For a start.

  25. Socrates says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

    Is Hon Turnbull is conveniently rebelling? a true rebel is a rebel in dry weather and wet weather. Too many people are rebels when the spot light is turned off. Nevertheless, Mitch’s position is valid and insightful but perhaps inartfully stated and ill-timed. Nonetheless, his position is worthy of discussion. To be the top small destination in the Caribbean tourism market, quality, standards, satisfaction among other things are critical.

  26. Jay T says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    I am not sure I understand what Mr Turnbull is really saying. Is it that if Cane Garden Bay is not in a position to accept visitors, there should be none invited to the BVI at all? The BVI has lots of other beaches and there is not a thing wrong with the tourists experiencing other cultures outside of Cane Garden Bay. I do agree that Cane Garden Bay needs urgent attention, but that has been well before the hurricanes, but we were comfortable with its condition, for whatever reason.

    I am certainly glad to hear that Mr Turnbull, as the representative, will be soliciting help to get things going. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We must understand that the current condition of the BVI has much to do with a natural disaster, we had nothing to do with so hiding it from people makes no sense especially since there are lots of before and after pictures out there. Putting our tourism industry on hold indefinitely would do us more harm than good.

    Some other Caribbean islands were hit just as hard by Irma and they are up and running with what resources they have left and we want to be bawling and crawling while places like St Kitts is rejoicing and boasting about the number of cruise visits they have scheduled. The faster we invite people to the Territory the faster we will get things done. That is obvious from the bush cutting I see going on, and the patching of roads etc. Bring them on – it benefits all of us.

  27. Lb says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Firstly nobody sent any cruise passengers to CGB. An alternate route to Long Bay Beef Island instead of CGB was designed. This is the only reason Mitch mad. People in CGB think down there is the only place cruiseships supposed to send people. Again this is the only reason he mad.

    Tourism in the BVI started with a cooler and a grill on the beach. Not nothing fancy. Mitch talking bout luxury. CGB was never luxury. Cruise passengers are also not in the luxury market. So again he talking nonsense. He should sit with Tourism board to better understand Tourism before taking such an aggressive position.

    Lastly, if he took this energy and activated his people in CGB to clean their own village and beach like other communities have done, then perhaps CGB would be ready for these cruise ships. White Bay JVD was just as badly hit, but all those businesses done been operating. Without electricity and water. Coco Loco, Soggy Dollar, Hendu, Foxy etc. Meanwhile the businesses in CGB just sitting on their butts waiting on Govt or Insurance.

    So while Mitch sounds all valiant, his energy is misdirected and his knowledge on the subject is very limited.

    • Sam the man says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Good point Lb we have 2 ears and one mouth, if we listened twice as hard to understand the challenges then speak we’d make more progress – I sense the frustration but you are right people need to get up and make it happen, then CGB will be the 1st choice for tourists once again…

  28. Cap'n Adam says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    As a visitor to the BVI each year with charter guests, rhetoric like this will keep us away for some time. People of my next charter are wanting me to book it in St. Lucia. Is this what you want BVI? You need the money now and it isn’t going to come primarily from the govt. You need tourism dollars again. I am happy to spend my money elsewhere to those who want us…

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