BVI News

BVI tourism set back by 5 years

    Visitors aboard a cruise ship docked in the BVI recently. (BVI News photo)

Premier and Minister of Tourism Dr D Orlando Smith has given a clearer indication of how badly last year’s disasters affected the local tourism industry, noting that the industry has been set back by five years in some sectors.

Coming out of 2016, the BVI broke records having welcomed more than one million visitors to its shores. But, when fast-forwarded to the disaster-riddled 2017, the territory recorded 387,922 fewer visitors than it did in 2016.

That means visitor arrivals dropped by a frightening 33 percent.


While delivering the 2018 Budget Address on Monday, the Premier released figures detailing how each sector in the tourism industry was affected.

“Cruise visitors decreased by 289,382 passengers, representing a 41 percent decline from 2016. Day trip visitors declined by 5,713 or 33 percent, and overnight visitors declined by 73,134 or 18 percent, taking us back to 2013 levels,” Dr Smith said.

He continued: “Our charter and bareboat industry pre-storm had 3,800 berths at sea and as of March 1 stood at 1,584.”

The Tourism Minister said land accommodations before the hurricanes were estimated at 2,700 rooms, but that number fell to a miserable 336 at the start of March 2018.

Tourism resting on charter yacht sector

However, Dr Smith said the charter sector is ‘rebounding in a major way’ and is keeping local tourism alive while the rest of the industry rebuilds.

He said land tourism will see ‘major resurgence‘ by September when local villas and small properties are repaired and reopened.

“Our larger properties will understandably take a longer time to be up and fully operational … hopefully in time for the 2019 season,” the Premier said.

“But, we must continue to tell the story of the British Virgin Islands and maintain high visibility in the international tourism space. We must steadfastly protect our brand in the global marketplace. We have to take advantage of the marketing opportunities and ramp up our spending [so we can] tell the world exactly what is taking place with our product and when they can expect to enjoy our beautiful islands to the fullest.”

He continued: “It is important to recognise that in 2018, other players in the industry will not sit idly by and wait for the British Virgin Islands to redevelop and regain its market share. So we must act swiftly and aggressively.”

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  1. Que? says:

    Swiftly and aggressively?!!! Do you guys even know what those words means? To date this Government have been anything but ‘swift and aggressive’ in helping these islands get back.

  2. JK says:

    I did not win a Nobel in Mathematics, but a drop from 1 million to 387,922 is not a 33% decline

    • Wings says:


      “Coming out of 2016, the BVI broke records having welcomed more than one million visitors to its shores. But, when fast-forwarded to the disaster-riddled 2017, the territory recorded 387,922 fewer visitors than it did in the 2016.”

      Read the above quote again, the key words are on the last line. It seems you won’t get a Nobel in reading compression either.

      But I will give you that the 33% decline figure is not accurate. More like 39% decline, which is not too far off but still very bad.

  3. Real says:

    A lot of these numbers post Irma are probably volunteers coming to help clean up too. Or people coming in to clear out their salvageable belongings.

  4. Sam the Man says:

    6 months on and the Premier just realises this? The “No Direction Party” continues to underwhelm us all…. Swiftness is not a quality they possess when they can’t even get a temporary structure at West End in place after 6 months and the PS doesn’t even know when it will arrive or how much it will cost!!! Embarrassingly bad governance….

  5. Tristan says:

    Imagine BVI moving forward with continued bad governance. The people can kiss any progress goodbye. BVI will be pushed back 10 years definitely. One can only speak from past performance of this government. It’s hard having an optimistic look with the NDP Government at the forefront. How can people start believing again? The Premier words have no merit at all.

  6. CW says:

    How can you expect swiftness with all the people refusing to get onboard with the required loans from UK to actually rebuild? Can’t have it both ways! BVI needs to grow up like it’s other Caribbean neighbors. As usual the people blame everybody but themselves for holding everything back when they themselves are most of the problem!

  7. Disinterested says:

    These are horrible numbers and no doubt it will take time for the industry rebound and expand. By the way, did not the MoF promulgated that the economy will grow 6% in 2018, though the CDB was promulgating some different numbers?

    Moreover, tourism and financial industries need to be deepen and widen. If one of these industries stumbles, the economy will tumble; the economy needs to be diversified.

  8. Rafe says:

    Keep raising the cruising and
    environmental taxes. That’ll keep people
    coming to the territory!

  9. Hmmm says:

    The BVI will be just fine and all the naysayers wont have a word to say about the positive stuff that happens. For decades we have been hearing how bad things would get here and yet we are still here and will continue to be here.

  10. See says:

    People will not come to look ay garbage , sewage , dangerous roads , polluted beaches , and deralict cars and boats … many of which we know are owned by some people with last names who always get special privilidges. We get on with the recovery because the expats who are here busting their asses wont stay here forever ….not the way they are being treated . We need to wake up and start the rebuild and if we have to borrow with oversight it is . We earned that oversight ..lets not kid ourselves for one single minute . One final thought … are we going to wait until foreigners rebuild all of our schools or do we show our youth that their education is of at leasT SOME CONCERN to us ??? Put the politics aside , forget about any damn election , and lets all work together without greed to get our country back on its feet .

  11. No vision says:

    Premier you are obviously asleep. Did the Tourist Board give you that to read too? They are spending a million dollars at the Miami open. There was no return on it last year, why do it again? Why not assist in fixing the tourism product before wasting money advertising something that is mediocre.

    • Sam the Man says:

      Same reason they all went off on their all expenses visit recently to Florida, let’s just have a good time never mind the real priorities ! I agree lets get the Islands back in a fit state to visit before wasting massive amounts of money promoting a sub standard experience…other Islands are benefitting from our slowness to repair and recover and yet after 6 months the Premier states with a straight face how swiftness is key?! He should be on stand up comedy…..

  12. Richgdgy says:

    So lets see,blame the government,taxes,storms.garbage,and nobody blames the liberal attitude towards DRUGS and CRIME!Give me a break!

  13. Tsotsi says:

    Karma. The BVI treated expats badly and started taxing visitors to death.

    BVI need to radically rethink the appalling ‘Belonger’ rules and make it easier for people to have a real stake in BVI, with property ownership / residence and voting rights. Not the humiliation of annual application for a ‘work permit’.

    Irma was God’s judgement and the stiff necked Belongers are still not listening. More hard lessons to come……

    Ye are reaping what ye have sown.

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