Leader of the National Democratic Party, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith has fired back at critics who have questioned his decision to welcome tourists back to the BVI three months after the devastation of Hurricane Irma.
Premier Smith was criticised and undermined by government backbencher Melvin Turnbull who not only questioned his leadership, but accused government of not assisting with cleanup of Cane Garden Bay, a community in his (Turnbull’s) constituency. Turnbull is representative for the Second Electoral District.
In response, Premier Smith said the backbencher’s claims were not true, and that the Works Ministry has worked with each district representative ‘so that clean-up efforts are done at the community level’.
“My Government quickly sought to clean up the Territory… specifically, in the Second District. After unsuccessful attempts to clean up faster using this strategy, the Ministry directly deployed manpower and equipment to support efforts in the Windy Hill area, Brewers Bay, and along the Cane Garden Bay stretch from Quito’s to the Callwood Rum Distillery,” Dr Smith said.
“Particularly for Cane Garden Bay, this was done with support from the Territory’s Rotary Clubs and members of the financial services sector over two days. Government will continue to support clean-up efforts and find ways to restore our environment and protect against further damages to all of our communities,” the Premier added.
I will not turn away toursits
Dr Smith who is also responsible for tourism made it clear that he will not stop inviting tourists to the British Virgin Islands.
“Our tours and sites might not be the same; our circumstances have changed, but we still have a story to tell and a country to rebuild. There is no indignity in showing the world our resilience and our dedication to restoring our Territory.”
“Cruise tourists are appropriately informed of damages to the Territory and are being provided with alternative options when in the BVI. This is also an opportunity for us to explore new sites, support business opportunities in other districts, as well as take the opportunity to see how we can strike the right balance of opportunity and environmental protection for beachfront communities like Cane Garden Bay,” said Dr Smith, adding that he looks forward to working with all elected representatives.
And while further defending his decision to welcome tourists back to the BVI, Premier Smith explained that tourism significantly contributes to the territory’s annual budget and pays public servants.
“In contrast, through our tourism sector, many residents earn their income and are able to take care of their families, buy groceries, pay their rents and be in a position to independently take care of themselves. The devastation that the floods and two hurricanes caused to our natural environment and the lives of residents is evident; but we must move forward. We must ensure all residents have every opportunity to build back their lives and make an honest living,” Dr Smith said.
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