A recent report from the BVI Tourist Board has shown that the territory’s tourism statistics are facing massive declines.
While citing the stats, Junior Minister for Tourism Archibald Christian has called on government to pay more attention to the industry.
He said the yachting sector has seen a significant drop in the number of vessels berthed in BVI waters. Similarly, the hotel sector is at an all-time low in available rooms for rent.
According to the report, berths before the hurricane were about 3,800. But, as of April 1 this year, berths had fallen to 1,500.
Excluding Airbnb properties, room inventory before the hurricanes stood at 2,800. That number has dropped to 407, which represents an approximate 85 percent decrease.
Gov’t must play its part
Christian lamented the plummeting tourism statistics while participating in the 2018 budget debate in the House of Assembly on Thursday, April 26.
“If the BVI is to remain very competitive in the Caribbean and indeed the wider world, then we have to do our best. I am one of those who believe we need to pay serious attention to the issues that are related to tourism.”
He continued: “We know for a fact that whenever we come to this Honourable House to deal with matters that are concerning financial services and the industry, we are extremely prudent, committed and dedicated to ensuring that we do what is necessary for that industry to continue to thrive. And I think we need to be more committed and dedicated to the pillar of tourism.”
Local Airbnb properties available
Christian said despite the territory losing a significant amount of its room count, there are Airbnb properties that are currently available for rent.
Airbnb is an online marketplace and hospitality service for people to lease or rent short-term lodging.
The junior minister said the legislators need to “begin to look seriously at supplementing the rooms that we have with those villas and those Airbnb rooms that are available”.
He said the roads also need attention.
“Whatever policies that the government need to come up with so that the roads in the BVI are available for the next four to five years need to happen. And we need to do so with haste.”
Major cruise lines have said road infrastructure is among the areas which need to be ‘up to par’ before they return to the BVI.
In the meantime, Christian said though BVI tourism numbers have plummeted, the territory is still dominating St Lucia, Antigua and St Kitts in relation to overnight visitors.
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