With the winter tourist season just around the corner, political commentator Cindy Rosan and tourism advocate Sharon Flax-Brutus have bemoaned the aesthetics of the community, saying the BVI isn’t prepared to start receiving tourists.
During a discussion on the Morning Braff radio show yesterday, Rosan as well as callers who joined the show, bemoaned the potholes on several roads and the overgrown grass which decorates many sidewalks in the territory.
“The Premier came on this show a few weeks ago and he said we should watch him work. He’s the Minister for Tourism. At the bare minimum, [he could] cut the grass and the bush so at least we could see you working. Prepare for the tourism season,” Rosan said.
She also called out Director of Tourism Clive McCoy, who she said isn’t doing much to get the territory ready for the important season.
“We could also say what the director of tourism is doing. I have never seen a bigger waste in my life. I don’t understand the way he’s managing that portfolio,” Rosan said.
Flax-Brutus, the Interim Executive Director of the BVI Yachting, Hotel & Tourism Association, also agreed that the territory isn’t prepared to accommodate visitors.
“From an infrastructure and service standpoint, we aren’t where we need to be. But it’s not for a lack of trying. I tend to be a thorn in the side of every minister and every government department as it relates to tourism. I’ve reached out to all and sundry to ask what is the plan to get us ready for the tourism season. There are potholes in Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. It’s just embarrassing. We seem unable to prioritize and follow through,” Flax-Brutus explained.
She said at this point, with the lack of interest from the government, businesses and residents may have to take matters in their own hands and carry out beautification works where they can.
“Some of us will have to do things ourselves. On Virgin Gorda, I was very happy to see the Lion’s Club taking charge and helping to line out the sidewalks and to paint — not the District Rep. There were people cutting bush as well and some of us will probably have to go and fill the potholes as well,” Flax-Brutus pointed out.
She also called on the government to utilize funds earned from the environmental levy that visitors pay, to carry out improvements needed for the tourism season.
Recently, Premier Wheatley stated that tourism will be one area that will drive the BVI economy, adding visitor arrivals are headed for a record-breaking year.
“This tourist season will probably be the second-best in history as it pertains to visitor arrivals. In 2016, we had 1.1 million visitors. We’ll see where we end up here but it most likely will be the second-best number we’ve ever had. So when persons make these statements (about economic slump), I’m not sure if they have the right information,” Premier Wheatley said recently.
At the same time, some tourism players continue to say the leader is out of touch as tourism isn’t doing as well as he believes. They say they’re still recovering from the pandemic and need more support and collaboration from the government to implement the measures that the industry needs.
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