While claiming that many Americans feel confident about their future economic prospects under their incoming president, Donald Trump, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is gearing up to capitalize on the improved opportunities especially in relation to tourism.
He made the comment while he delivered his budget speech on Monday (January 16) – five days ahead of Trump’s inauguration.
“The BVI, with the remainder of the world, anxiously await the Trump presidency. Why? Because the North American market supplies the overwhelming majority of the tourists who visit our shores, and most of our trade is done within that market. A challenge? Surely, but also an opportunity!”
“We know that many Americans are feeling confident about their future economic prospects under this President, and we are positioning ourselves to capitalize on that optimism through more aggressive tourism marketing, upgrading our tourism infrastructure, and addressing air access,” added the premier, who also is responsible for tourism.
He further stated that, with a Trump presidency, the territory ‘must expect the unexpected’.
“Let us, nevertheless, continue to set our sights as a people on the factors that will result in a higher quality of life, a greater sense of personal fulfillment, and prosperity for our Virgin Islands,” added Premier Smith.
Further, in relation to tourism, he underscored the importance of improving the product.
“Success in tourism is fueled by a positive visitor experience, and this is an area that both my office and the BVI Tourist Board had been doubling down on over the last two years. It is an area that will remain centre stage in 2017. Our focus has been in two principal areas, customer service and destination training…and that of product development to enhance the visitor experience.”
Premier Smith added that the BVI Tourist Board has delivered on his government’s mandate to increase visitor arrivals to the BVI, adding that his administration is determined to have that trend deepened in the territory’s core markets.
“Tourism continues to be one of the strongest performing sectors of our economy. Overall tourist arrivals in 2015 increased by some 22 percent, which is significantly over the 2014 growth rate of 1.8 percent, and the negative rate of growth experienced for the period 2008 to 2013. During this period, a dramatic drop in cruise arrivals was largely responsible for the downward pressure exerted on total arrivals.”
“Fortunately, during the period 2011 to 2015, the destination also experienced a strong rebound in its overnight arrivals from 337,773 to 392,302 – a healthy 13.9 percent increase in this sub-sector of the tourism market in the BVI. Madame Speaker, it is worthwhile to also note that cruise arrivals have also rebounded significantly by some 43 percent following the opening of the Tortola Pier Park facilities and our berthing agreements with Disney and Norwegian Cruise Lines,” Premier Smith further told the House.
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