BVI News

BVI’s airport arrival experience was ‘miserable’, now improved

Russell Daya, the Executive Director of Marine and Port Operations, Port Developments and Itinerary Planning for Disney Fantasy cruise line.

Disney Cruise Line has applauded the BVI Tourist Board for improving the territory’s visitor arrival experience, which they said was initially unpleasant in the British Virgin Islands.

Disney said the experience was particularly bad at the Terrance B Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island.

Russell Daya, the Executive Director of Marine and Port Operations for Disney Fantasy, said local Customs and Immigration Officers were cold and inhospitable.

“My first experience coming in on a plane to Tortola was miserable … It’s not meant to be a great experience but imagine [when you] make it a pleasant and polite interaction — what’s that first guest going to say? ‘Wow, that was great experience coming through Customs and Immigration’. It doesn’t detract from their main mission, which is to protect your borders and to make sure that everybody is legally documented. But they could do it in such a great way, which I believe has now filtered down,” said Daya, adding that he occasionally makes secret visits to the territory to assess visitor experience.

“When I do sneak in … I normally sneak in and sneak out without anybody knowing. I have been dealt with in a much better way — polite, respectful, firm. The mission was achieved and I felt so much better.”

Daya further acknowledged Tourism Director Sharon Flax Brutus for working to improve the arrival experience for tourists visiting the territory.

“Hats off to Sharon and her team,” he said.

Daya was speaking at a recent conference at The Moorings on Tortola. The conference was with representatives from the Florida-Caribean Cruise Association (FCCA) as well as local tourism stakeholders.

Disney Cruise Line is an FCCA member and is one of the major cruise lines to service the BVI.

Disney is yet to resume service to the BVI since last year’s hurricanes but said they are encouraged by the territory’s recovery efforts, so far.

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  1. Sam the man says:

    They should do in the BVI what they do when I’ve traveled elsewhere a press button happy or sad face to quickly register your experience whether it is negative or positive. This and a “secret shopper” type approach would certainly hopefully give our rude, arrogant customs/immigration staff a much needed “Reboot” in terms of their overall attitude to the customer!

    • Rarebit says:

      God help them when they have to go through the process when getting off the ship at the Pier park, those guys are the worst.

      I ask for a pen to complete my paperwork and they said no, then i showed them a return ticket on my phone and they made me go and print it in road town and had to come back.


    • nah says:

      no need the problem existing from donkey years and them in power know about it and we still here

      • Fedup says:

        Them who was in before ain’t do nothing and them who in now ain’t do nothing. We need to go a brand new government

  2. Rubber Duck says:

    The anti tourist attitude and culture starts at the top in customs. We need new leadership there if things are to improve.

  3. Tuloopera says:

    We should set him loose on all of the other government departments to see if he can change their attitudes too!

  4. Gerance P. says:

    I am quite pleased to know there is a group that is evaluating the BVI customer experience. Arriving to Tortola is a cold, pushy, unfriendly experience and that is the opposite of what you would expect in the beautiful islands. I have heard from so many visitors that it is a major deterrent to return. Us locals need to be effectively taught that tourism is our answer to prosperity and personal freedom. The finance industry is for the wealthy. The tourism business is for the rest of us. Let’s clean up our island of years of debris and buy some paint! You can’t blame it all on the hurricanes.

  5. Maggie says:

    So it takes a Disney executive to finally get this over to the authorities!

    Let’s hope it works for all the rest of us arriving at Beef Island.

  6. TLB says:

    I vowed never to return to Tortola after a completely unnecessarily bad experience on arrival. Untrained, entitled staff treated dozens of exhausted travelers with complete disregard and when we asked our innkeeper about it afterwards he said he was well aware and that there was nothing that could be done. Tortola is lovely but I would never choose to return after that frustrating and scary experience. Good luck with trying to fix it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Good customer service is a critical component of good business, and frankly, being a good human.

    Is poor service sometimes displayed by some individuals? Of course. However, where such do occur suggest a lack of training of employees by employers. If staff is trained it will act accordingly.

    Meanwhile though, there are some who are not satisfied unless (we) Afro people bow down and flagellate ourselves before them in a slavish like manner.

    Some are still wanting to see and experience a ( yes sir nor sir)slave inferior mentality of the past.

    And when such is no longer evident in a people, they some how feel that their imagined superiority had been challenged.

    A twenty first century great value is to treat everyone with respect and good manners, be fair and just to all and expect from no one that which one is unwilling to give in return.

    • @anonymous says:

      Customer service has nothing to do with race. It is about manners, being polite, and efficient.
      As you said, it’s good business and being a good human.

    • Problem says:

      In the BVI, xenophobia is our comfort blanket.
      The daily pleasure of at outrage at us poor BVIslanders being victimised, that’s our baby bottle.
      Aint we just the cutest?

    • @Anonymous says:

      I am sure there may be some people who like to be treated like they are superior, but not sure it has anything to do with race. They are probably just the same when they deal with white people who need to serve them. Source: am white, worked as a waitress for many years. Some of the tensions we see here in BVI spring from a class/wealth divide rather than a race divide.

    • Thomas Sanborn says:

      My first visit and encounter with the custom agents at Beef Island airport was in February 2017. I found it to be polite and quick. Judging from the number of private jets at the airport, I imagine that many visitors expect to be treated like kings and queens. As a frequent traveler, I make a point to visit with as many locals as I can. I do this to learn about the places I visit, and to show respect and gratitude to be a guest in your home. Thank you people of the BVI’s for all the hospitality and warmth you showed me and my travel companions.
      We Shall Return!

    • Peep says:

      This is a little paranoid. In Europe and the US customer service is a major focus for business regardless of race. It’s more about being pleasant and welcoming rather than bowing and scraping.

    • SMH says:

      Really must you pull the race card every time? I guess what you are saying is to be of Afro decent just means that it is programmed in one’s DNA to be rude. How about saying that a lot of Tortolians, especially those who feel like they have a wee bit of authority are rude, plain and simple. Arriving on island is always grueling. Departing especially from the ferry dock where people don’t even recognize that a line should be formed to board the ferry is even worse. So maybe should just have just stopped your commentary at the first paragraph.

  8. Cwalter155 I says:

    Leaving from the airport this spring, my wife and i were yelled at because our toes were touching the yellow line at the doors of security. It was unbelievable, other tourists shook their heads, and we all said they seem to hate tourists

    • Albion says:

      You see the same thing if a tourist tries to take a photo when they are arriving or leaving. Whoever is nearby will yell at them like this is the only thing stopping the terrorists from blowing up TBL.

      I get it – it is a security issue. But there is a nice way to say “I am sorry, but please can you put your camera away. It is a security issue.” But everyone prefers to yell and scream and make everyone as stressed and uncomfortable as possible.

  9. Eagle eye says:

    They know him now that’s why

  10. What!! says:

    Bad experience the other week with the cashier at Road Town ferry dock, returning from St Thomas he was very rude.

  11. Grumpy says:

    Were a miserable island!

  12. David says:

    Please lengthen the runway so planes from the mainland
    Can fly direct to BVI.
    Avoiding PRico wd be a great help!

  13. Brad Boynes says:

    Go st.Thomas and report your entry experience.

  14. JD says:

    You can start by getting rid of the fat a hole taxi driver always sitting on the bench outside the airport. He yells at new arrivals for the most trivial things, and refers to them as white boys(girls). If I wasn’t in another country other than my own I would have knocked his fat azz out.

  15. Jane says:

    I have been resident in BVI for many years. I was pregnant when Irma hit and also had other very young children. I was evacuated by my employer so that I could continue to work whilst our office here was rebuilt. I didnt want to leave but having lost everything (home, cars, clothes) I couldnt stay. When I returned to BVI in January, the Immigration Officer immediately said “oh so you abandoned us then?” Very hurtful to say this. A smile and a “welcome back” would have been appropriate.

    • @Jane says:

      You need to lighten up. Sounds like the officer was simply teasing you and trying to make conversation, If you’d simply responded and said “!Not in the least; I had nothing left and had to leave but I am so glad to be back to help rebuild”, that officer would have said in return “so glad to see that positive spirit; welcome back home”. You need to stop trying to find petty things to complain about and grow up!

      • Online Now says:

        @Jane don’t be ridiculous. This constant need for defending oneself against people with superiority complexes is very tired.

      • @@Jane says:

        Do you even live in or travel through Tortola!!!? As an expat resident I’ve been through those immigration lines both at the airport & ferry terminal 200x. I have NEVER been greeted with a smile yet I always greet them with one. It’s like they’re trained to make you feel you shouldn’t be on ‘their’ island. Not professional in anyway for them to be judgmental or rude. I’ve never experienced a country like it. Most unwelcoming country in the Caribbean to expats/tourists but also the most beautiful which is the only reason people stay/come back.

        • Reality says:

          Remember you are an “Alien” and made to wait in the “Non-Belonger queue” and boy are you aware of it with how they treat you with contempt….and now charge you on top of taxes a $10 dollar visitor fee!

  16. Sorry in advance says:

    Naw it’s because we watch too much CNN and see how racist Trump America is and how common ——- white people express themselves. WE THINK YOU TOURISTS ARE THE SAME SO WE STAY READY TO GIVE THE BUSINESS WHEN NECESSARY. Blame Trump.

    • JD says:

      Trump has done more for African Americans than Obama did and it’s note even close. The AA unemployment rate is at an all-time low! He has limited job killing boarder jumpers, which has opened up jobs for the inner cities.
      Obama just blamed “whitey” and told them they are victims. Trump says you’re not victims, you’re Americans with a great opportunity to prosper.
      CNN offers al——- facts due to a l—– agenda.

  17. Always bowing says:

    We believe everything someone says out of there mouth. All of us travel but when it comes to the virgin islands.we always quick to say something bad about our home. Beef island customer service a as far as I know is pleasant by the ambassadors and both immigration and customs. Judgement comes from the almighty and not a earthly man from a cruiseline.

  18. Student says:

    Hold; I’m waiting for the jack$$@ to come with well if you don’t like you can always leave and don’t come back, or the when St. Thomas or other islands does it no one complains. When comes to livelihood and saving an industry there should be no comparing with what other islands do when comes to the negative. Once pointed out try correcting and changing behavior.

  19. A brighter day says:

    Hospital has some good persons but others are pure hogs they need some customer training done asap.

  20. hmm says:

    And what exactly did tourist board do again.

  21. past big lover says:

    I have had the best 3 vacations in my entire life on Tortola. My husband and I had planned to return in 2 years to renew our vows on the beach. Reading reviews like this is terrifying. How do I find out specifics of the boutique hotel at which we wanted to stay? What is Road town now like? Why doesn’t Tortola go back to the quiet little island that no one had ever heard of? When last there, 2 years ago, I was shocked to see my beautiful Road Town a series of high-rise banking institutions. It was a much better experience when it was a one-car wide cobblestone streets, and the prison was located there, and everyone has a smile on their face for you. I love Tortola and its people, and it breaks my heart what you had to suffer, but I am not wealthy, and a $12,000 trip is not feasible if what I must expect is rudeness, and everything so much less than it had been. There are other Islands. We might try Aruba, or St Lucia this time.

    • Expectations says:

      It is sad but Aruba or St Lucia wins hands down anytime for their welcoming attitude – the BVI would win on its beauty but not on the experience of rude, patronizing custom and immigration officials…take your business elsewhere

  22. Hotelier says:

    I came through Beef Island yesterday. As well as grim unsmiling immigration officers and the other well known problems, visitors are now faced with notices demanding that they pay the $10 visitor fee there and then at the customs gate.

    Are we absolutely determined to kill off tourism in these islands?

  23. @JD says:

    JD, stop f—–g through the mouth. Anyone in possession of the authentic facts know first hand that the current job and economic boom now occurring in the US are a direct result of and directly correlates to the economic policies of the past US administration.

    So stop the hate and get to the factual gate!! Be further enlightened when faced with the truth that such economic and job performances could not have occurred in 100-150 days, the length of the current presidency.

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but all must try to enlighten all with truths and facts, not farts and poops!

  24. Past big lover says:

    What did you find, and really what is so terrifying about the conversations here relative to the topic

    Frankly , you comment is as cranky as cranky can be.

    You are so much more intelligent than your prose displayed.

    Lastly, there are stoned faced and seriously personalities serving in immigration and custom capacities all over the world.

    To end, should you be exposed to what is really terrifying? try being Afro in America under the current RHC or Rump hate climate. Now that is terrifying!!

  25. Uh says:

    These ppl can’t handle any position without turning hog.That’s it..Hog need to stay with hog that’s why the private sector. Will do anything from employing hog,,let them hog dem way through life..shameless ppl.Nasty pieces of work…they only tolerate..ppl from elsewhere..haters not creators..look at there Island….no shame..watching ppl come and clean their island after the hurricane…and can’t lift a finger..not even Irma wake them up from them bad ways.

  26. Looking On says:

    Its Hereditary….BVI landers just talk hard and broad….can be short and crass….destroys the Queen’s English on a regular …Taatola boi

    No amount of training will help. They leave work, go about their daily routines, go home and continue to speak that way.

    However, money talks. If it were costing them personally they would definitely make a conscious effort to polish up their immature act.

  27. Hmm... says:

    No one treats bvi boarded protection worst than it’s own people! I’ve seen this for myself on countless occasions as I am a frequent traveller. The “new” bvi people on a whole are rude people! The stores, hospitals, some hotels, on the street, they are not the same as they once were! It’s a shame to put focus on one set of people when it seems the whole island has a major problem now. It’s not the old days! The person that mentioned that it’s better in the private sector….lmaooo no sweetie that’s mostly because those employed by the private sector aren’t from here! So don’t talk too fast. I sincerely agree, some of them can put some tenderness when dealing with passengers, esp those at Road Town (my gosh) but tourist board is your welcome committe, not the border security.

  28. Expat says:

    Three lines at port of entries (one for visitors), both air and sea. Yet, there are only two officers working 99.9% of the time. How is that for customer service?

  29. DJS says:

    I hesitated to post because I love the BVI’s and don’t want to disparage the islands or the people. We have been coming to BVI’s since 1998 and the fact is the only stamps in our passport are BVI stamps. So I feel I can talk somewhat about customs and generally good will towards “customers”. We have chartered and owned 2 boats on Tortola. Some of the posts from the customs people are mind boggling. I don’t think customs need to be all happy and bubbly — due to there job seriousness. On the other hand rudeness is the rule. You can see it in the posts made. However how about when I’m restocking the boat at Trellis– what causes that person to be so rude and obnoxious. We always come in trying to expect the best– ain’t gonna happen. Your ruining your business and Island atmosphere by being cruel in your talking/or lack thereof. If you don’t like the service business then GET OUT OF IT.
    THE WAKE UP CALL is post after post unsolicited i might add about how you are treating folks- visitors to your islands– tourist– who are supplying you a living. It is disgraceful and your mommy’s and daddy’s would not be proud in how you think and act toward visitors. You have to give some respect to get it–.
    Customs people– your small group more than any other is ruining your island. take it for what is meant– an honest opinion from an older couple who love BVI’s. I clean toilets and clean up after people in my business back home– it is customer service on rental properties. I have a grasp on what you perceive as everyone else getting the best– my tenants feel the same way. We treat them with much respect trying to help them and to let them know what we think about their situation. We help as much as possible to show them their worth. Most are fantastic folks and just want respect. When in line at your customs– I see nothing but respect shown to all at entry– that has to be a two way street– and that’s what’s lacking. Not reciprocal by any stretch. Thank you for allowing me to post.

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