BVI News

Total visitor arrivals expected to reach 541K by year’s end

Visitors aboard a cruise ship docked in the BVI. (BVI News photo)

Premier and Minister of Tourism Dr Natalio Wheatley has indicated that the BVI’s total number of visitor arrivals for 2022 will have exceeded half-million people by the end of the year.

Dr Wheatley gave that indication during his budget speech yesterday, November 29. He described the local tourism sector as resilient and said it is now in high demand.

The Premier commended the Virgin Islands’ tourism product for its prowess after it weathered dwindling visitor arrivals because of the global pandemic, then rebounded appreciably when the territory began to lift its COVID-19 restriction measures.

Rise and fall

According to the Premier, tourist arrivals fell from 894,991 visitors in 2019 to 305,356 visitors in 2020 and dropped further to a measly 133,715 visitors in 2021. 

He noted, however, that the reopening of the Road Harbour jetty in December 2020 saw arrivals progressively increasing, with substantial increases coming particularly in November and December 2021 that fell just shy of 96,000 visitors.

“With vaccination programmes in most countries, the loosening of travel restrictions, the easing of quarantine periods, the reduction in, and subsequent elimination of BVI gateway fees, and pent-up appetites for travel; the tourism sector during 2022 commenced it’s upward climb, albeit [slower] than its normal performance levels,” the Premier stated. 

According to Dr Wheatley, by the end of August 2022, total visitors shot up by an astronomical 1,054 per cent, moving from 28,224 visitors in August 2021 to 325,753 visitors. 

Cruisers and day-trippers moved from 2,641 by the end of August 2021 to 204,330 for the same period in 2022. This marks an incredible growth of 7,637 per cent. 

In the meantime, he said overnighters — which stood at 27,604 by August 2021 — reached 123,445 for the same period in 2022, a commendable 347 per cent increase. 

Tourism wins push visitor arrivals 

Among the successes that drove the BVI’s tourism numbers towards pre-pandemic levels was the re-emergence of annual events like the Virgin Gorda Easter Festival and the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival. Premier Wheatley also credited the One BVI Poker Run, Christmas in July, BVI Summer Sizzle, and the emancipation festivities for helping to enhance the level of visitors up to August 2022. 

An incredibly successful tenth annual Lobster Fest, which just concluded in Anegada, also helped by attracting a host of visitors from jurisdictions such as St Maarten, the United States Virgin Islands and mainland USA among others, Dr Wheatley shared.

Additionally, he said the reopening of the Virgin Gorda Airport facilitated an increase in both overnighters and day-trippers. 

“The completion of the Bitter End Yacht Club, Nanny Cay Hotel, and some guest houses and villas in 2020 continue to supplement the room stock in the Virgin Islands,” Dr Wheatly noted. 

He also shared that, based on feedback from the accommodation and charter yacht sectors, the outlook for overnight visitors for the remainder of 2022 looked optimistic, with early bookings showing signs of recovery to around 2019 levels of tourism activity. 

Total visitors expected to reach 541K by year’s end

With cruise restrictions being lifted and new cruise lines like Ritz-Carlton cruises set to make calls to the BVI soon, the Premier said the 2022–2023 cruise season is expected to be heading back to almost normal levels. 

“Based on performance up to August and an optimistic outlook across visitor arrival categories for the balance of the year, the 2022 projection for overnight visitors was revised to 191,019 visitors while that of cruisers and day-trippers being raised to 350,883 visitors,” Dr Wheatley shared. 

Total visitors for 2022 is, therefore, expected to reach 541,901 visitors – a 305 per cent growth above 2021 levels. 

Boost to high-end tourism

The planned reopening of Peter Island in 2023, the continued development at Oil Nut Bay Resort, and the anticipated gains from a comprehensive review and revision of the fees and structures within the marine industry are also expected to provide a boost to high-end tourism.

“It is anticipated that these efforts, in addition to those of the BVI Tourist Board, along with the level of early bookings for the 2022-2023 season, will realise total arrivals around 703,000, of which 59 per cent or 411,000 visitors are expected to be cruise passengers and day-trippers and the remaining 41 per cent, which is about 292,000, would be overnight visitors,” Premier Wheatley added. 


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  1. Facts says:

    No thanks to you and the VIP misfits. These are people who were already coming to the BVI on charter boats or cruise ships. The NDP is mainly responsible for the strong tourism numbers that we have. This is a fact.

    Like 13
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  2. @ FACTS says:

    we all know there players have been doind a Hollywood special on on the people since they did a number on the ndp with their freative theatrics which was well executed by wannabe geniuses like the wigged one and the holy one and a couple others who think they got more brains than anyone else

    Like 2
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  3. @Facts says:

    You are CORRECT. Most people don’t like to admit it because they don’t like NDP but look around, the cruise pier and most of the recent major resort developments happened under NDP when everyone were calling them sellouts, now look at how the BVI is benefitting from these projects.

    Like 8
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  4. @@facts says:

    They were sellouts.
    Lets get perspective here.
    Lots of tourists DO NOT make everyone in the BVI $$.

    ONB – minimal income to the BVI, lots of income to the non BVI owner of ONB. Investigate who applied for pioneer status and how much tax they actually pay.
    Loss of prisitne land to concrete – pricelass. Loss of access to beaches?

    Cruise ships – %wise the income goes to Govt and the ship port agents. Taxi make some. Day trips a little.
    Life was better with no ships.

    The BVI can not get rid of its own waste – let alone the visitors. The extra sewage goes in theocean untreated and damages our wildlife.
    Our infrastructure is breaking.

    The BVI got its reputation as a place to visit becauae NOT built up, clean and friendly.
    We need to stop building and protect our green spaces. The islands are dirty and unkept with too many people.

    We should not be chasing huge numbers of tourist arrivals. We need to pick the right tourists that spend the money throughout the BVI.

    Like 8
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  5. Rubber Duck says:

    Overnight tourism , where the money is for ordinary people, is not going to improve much until we have better air and ferry connections and until you, the government, stop treating tourist like dogs.
    Stop ripping them off for taxes when they arrive for example.

    Like 9
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  6. Lol says:

    Over 1 million Tourist in 2016! Best year ever! NDP in office.

    On track for a better year in 2019 with over 700 thousand tourists just before VIP took over.

    Pandemic, Head Coach, remove Natures little secrets to BVI LOVE, put nincompoops on the Board of Tourism, put inexperienced Mcoy to Director and now bragging about 500 thousand tourists like it is a big deal? Meanwhile USVI doubled their best year! And upgrade their ports and waterfront beautiful. USVI take Moorings and getting praise straight. USVI force you to accept their boats! But you bragging about how many lowest recorded tourist?

  7. Vg resident says:

    How about allowing private planes to land at virgin gorda. I bought a plane which is used by commercial airlines to land at vg. But I cannot. Open up the airport to part 95 planes with the pilots getting instruction on how to land on VG

  8. Open west end says:

    Get the ferry service running in and out of West End and you’ll have bigger numbers!! No reason to be serving RoadTown only.

  9. False says:

    This is spin or stupidity

    According to Dr Wheatley, by the end of August 2022, total visitors shot up by an astronomical 1,054 per cent, moving from 28,224 visitors in August 2021 to 325,753 visitors

  10. False says:

    This is spin or stupidity

    According to Dr Wheatley, by the end of August 2022, total visitors shot up by an astronomical 1,054 per cent, moving from 28,224 visitors in August 2021 to 325,753 visitors

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