Former President of the United States Barack Obama and his wife Michelle have left the British Virgin Islands (BVI) where they spent 10 days vacationing on an island owned by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson.
The BVI government, in a press release today (February 2), announced the Obamas’ departure.
In an official photograph distributed, Mr Obama and his wife are seen posing with Governor John Duncan and his wife Anne-Marie, as well as Premier Dr D Orlando Smith and his wife Lorna.
Premier Smith, commenting publicly on the Obamas’ visit for the first time, said: “I have followed President Obama’s two terms in the White House, and I am filled with admiration for his accomplishment. The fact that the Obamas chose the BVI for their private vacation after eight years in the White House speaks to the high regard in which the BVI and its tourism product are held.”
The BVI government also said the Obamas have stated that ‘they enjoyed their visit tremendously and hope to return with their daughters in the near future’.
They departed via the Terrence B Lettsome International Airport, where there was increased security presence.
Mr Obama and his wife made a surprise landing at the said airport after nightfall on January 23.
They, at the time, posed with immigration officers and Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews before they were transported via boat to Sir Richard’s private island.
The visiting couple stayed away from public glare until yesterday when a video and photographs emerged, showing them – along with Sir Richard – walking in a section of Anegada, and having a meal.
The Obamas and Sir Richard smiled and waved to some area residents who security officers kept at bay. Few others were lucky enough to get close for photo ops.
A helicopter was also spotted in the area.
In an interview with BVI News Online a day after the Obamas arrived, Junior Minister of Tourism Archibald Christian said he was surprised by the Obamas’ visit, but he noted that the private trip is a significant boost to BVI tourism product.
“As it relates to our tourism product, I definitely think it will give us a positive boost because persons now are anxious to want to come to the BVI,” Christian said.
That sentiment was shared by a member of the parliamentary opposition, Andrew Fahie. “I am proud to know that we have someone of that calibre vacationing here in the British Virgin Islands. It will help our tourism product because we get publicity that we don’t even have to pay for, and it will also help in terms of many other areas, because for him to come and see the territory he will be able to testify for himself that we are a very good destination and a very good people,” Fahie had told BVI News Online.
Below are photos being circulated on social media of the Obamas – along with Sir Richard – on the island of Anegada:
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