The National Democratic Party (NDP) is proposing to establish a Ministry of Tourism, bringing the number of portfolios in the British Virgin Islands’ public service to eight.
The territory’s seven portfolios as things stand now are the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour, the Ministry of Health & Social Development, the Ministry of Education & Culture, the Ministry of Communications & Works, the Governors Group/Deputy Governor’s Office, and the Office of the Premier.
Tourism responsibilities currently fall under the Premier’s Office. But, At-Large candidate for the NDP Trefor Grant believes tourism should be a ministry onto itself if the industry is to be taken seriously.
“This [tourism] ministry will be responsible for the formation of well-informed policies, plans and marketing strategies for the sole purpose of pushing and preserving our tourism product. It’s a place where the bright minds of our industry that we will help to educate can return to and contribute to the meaningful direction of our country’s tourism product. This will happen under an NDP government,” Grant said.
Seven tourism strategies
Grant, who has served in the local industry for years, said establishing a Ministry of Tourism is one of seven strategies he is planning to roll out if he is elected into one of the four Territorial At-Large seats up for grabs during the general elections.
The second among those strategies is airport development. He said not having improved air access in the BVI would retard the process of growing the local industry.
He described the third strategy as ‘tourism development’.
“This is a branch that deals with attracting money for investment to build the likes of hotels, resorts, villas, restaurants and charter boat companies so our people can get to work and provide for our families,” Grant explained.
Sports tourism: BVI being booked to host regional competitions
The fourth and fifth strategies he outlined were to create opportunities for the cruise tourism sector as well as the yachting sector.
Sports tourism development is the sixth piece to Grant’s seven-tier plan. He said the AO Shirley Recreational Grounds in Road Town as well as the 2,500-seat stadium that is being constructed in Greenland, East End will actualise sports tourism for the BVI.
“There are already commitments in place to hold regional competitions at this facility, so there will be opportunities for rentals of spare rooms, opportunities for taxi transportation, opportunities for car rentals, opportunities for boat tours, opportunities for villa, hotel and resort room rentals, opportunities for craft making and opportunities for food and beverage catering, and the list goes on and on and on,” Grant said.
‘Diversification’ is the final strategy Grant outlined to grow the BVI’s tourism product.
He said the NDP would diversify and expand the industry through what is known as cultural tourism.
“Cultural tourism is a branch of tourism that highlights the cultural heritage of the destination,” the NDP candidate explained. “This is done through artefacts, activities and events that help you to experience both the culture and stories of our people past and present.”
He added: “Ideas like our BVI Emancipation Festival, Taste of Tortola, Taste of Virgin Gorda, Jost Pork and the Anegada Lobster Festival will not only grow but will thrive as we showcase our delicious food, fun-loving culture and happy way of life. We will rebuild and prioritise Museums, restore Sugar Mill ruins, revitalise boat building, rebuild and showcase traditional style Virgin Islands homes.”
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