BVI News

Tourist Board gets budget increase | BVI targets Canada, Scandinavia as tourism markets

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

A request by the BVI Tourist Board (BVITB) for a $3.7 million increase to its annual allocation from the government has been approved.

Premier and Tourism Minister Andrew Fahie said during his recent budget address that the “total allocation for tourism will be $15 million at the end of this budgetary process”.

In April, the director of the statutory body, Sharon Flax-Brutus appealed to government through the Standing Finance Committee for the increase to their annual budget.

At the time, she said the BVITB’s annual budgetary allotment was at $10.5 million since she was appointed as the director more than six years ago.

By BVI News’s calculations, such an increase would have pushed the BVITB’s budget to a figure just more than $14 million. 

Increasing local tourism facilities

During her successful pitch at the Standing Finance Committee, Flax-Brutus said the additional funds would be invested towards increasing the tourism facilities in all of the territory’s electoral districts. 

As an example, she said the BVITB plans to liaise with stakeholders to get additional tours to the Eighth District, undertake signage, road works, among other things.

Flax-Brutis further said the board intends to seek ways to promote sports tourism by bringing in tournaments to the territory. However, sporting facilities will be needed for such an undertaking.

Plans for the money

In the meantime, Premier Fahie said among plans government will be exploring is new niche markets in Northern Europe and Canada in 2020.

The Tourism Minister said this is one of the strategies being implemented to promote and market the territory on a global scale as a tourist destination.

“We will continue to market to our core demographic in US and Canada, Regional Caribbean, Italy, Germany, France and Latin America, but we recognise it is also important to reach out to emerging markets. Our view is to start to gain ground in the Scandinavian as well as Canadian markets. Niche markets such as meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, adventure, health and wellness as well as culinary and sports will be explored,” he said.

The Premier also said the BVITB would be employing greater use of technology via ‘search engine marketing strategies’ which involve using the web architecture of companies such as airlines and travel sites to promote the destination.

“This will be in addition to traditional marketing techniques,” Fahie said.

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  1. Can we first fix the country says:

    Perhaps it is an idea to fix the country first so that the tourist who do come can actually have a good experience.

    Like 34
    Dislike 3
  2. Anonymous says:

    The South American, southern Caribbean and African countries should also be targeted.

    European countries are not the only countries with rich citizens who loves to travel.

  3. Nonsense says:

    If anyone can tell me what tourist board will spend what is equivalent to over $1 mil per month for a calendar year, please enlighten me. Absolute nonsense!

    Like 28
    Dislike 1
    • Not2Sure says:

      I agree. It is just crazy. TB just wastes the money they get and bring in no tangible benefit. Yet Government just throws money at them, whilst many other worthy projects languish for lack of funds.

      Like 20
      Dislike 2
    • Lol says:

      You clearly have no idea what the Tourism Board does or where all in the world they operate. Offices in New York York, England, Germany, France, Italy, Rico, Brazil. Do you know how much one single advert in NY Times cost? Or how much the beach shades cost to build?

      You sound dumb thinking 1 million is a lot of money to push Tourism a month.

      Like 5
      Dislike 16
      • I Was There says:

        I was a Tourist Board member 2007 -2011. Hon O’Neal called the last meeting that year I believed; wanting to get real meaningful views pf the members. A mean concern for me was that about 38-38 percent of the allocated funds goes to salaries and perks; cutting decisively into moneys that should be spent to attract vacationers into the territory.
        Another disservice the board is guilty of is that with all the millions spent on promoting tourism; which has been up to 20 millions over the years, there has never been any projected growth from one year to the next; yet the various hotels, yacht charter companies and villas can project of growth they are shooting for or gained. What a waste ofT ax payers dollars is being poured down the drain

        Like 8
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        • Lies says:

          Flat out lies! The board budget never been more than $13m.

          I guess the money supposed to market the territory by itself and don’t need people to pull the promotions, ads, campaigns, do the customer service trainings, enhance the product. I guess you don’t need to pay people to do these things! Accounting doesn’t need staff? You don’t need a Human Resource department?

          You sound so ridiculous. You were the disservice to the territory of you were ever in the Board and still have such an ignorant and uneducated understanding of Tourism.

          You weren’t worth your stipend and therein lies the waste of taxpayers dollars. What a shame.

      • @lol says:

        Are you going to answer or not? What are the tangible benefits to BVI of spending $15mil annually via BVITB is the question. Answer that or get lost.

        • Lol says:

          The tangible benefits are the increased number of tourists to the destination year over year. But every measure is not tangible in this field. And that’s what most of you do not understand. There is something called brand awareness, recognition and equity. All successful companies depend on these concepts. How is your brand viewed in the marketplace? This brand equity, awareness and recognition doesn’t happen on its own magically. It is something that must be built over years. Something that must be continually monitored and curated. This is called public relations. It must continual evolve and be refocused as markets change. This is called niche marketing. You could have the very best product in the world, if your clientele aren’t aware of your awesome product then your business loses market share. This is why marketing…the INTANGIBLE but most important part of a business comes in to play.

          Go to the Tourist industry and ask them how well they are doing! Hotels, attractions, restaurants and bars, yachting companies, dive operators. 2016 was the best year for BVI with over 1 million visitors! 2017 we were ahead of 2016 until the Hurricanes came! 2 years following the Hurricanes and we are already on pace for our 2016 numbers in 2020.

          This isn’t happening on its own! The folks at Tourist Board have been working hard and pushing in all of the key markets. Bringing journalists and travel agents to the BVI so they can go back and sell and promote the BVI to their clients as a must visit destination. Placing ads in key publications. Forming ties with key airlines. Enhancing the BVI with bathrooms, lookouts, bohios on the beach, the museums, the toll booth etc. They have been doing customer service training for all sections of Tourism. All so guests have a great experience and continue to return to BVI. This costs money!

          They have given scholarships and donated to the Culinary schools. They also sponsor many events in the BVI to attract tourists like Food Fete, Spring Regatta, New Year’s celebrations, etc. This costs money!

          Even if they get, $15m which they wont get, it isn’t enough. BVI probably has the smallest budget of all the competing Caribbean countries.

          But we are so much crabs in barrel, that we rather sit back clueless and bash the Tourism people for no reason when they are doing good job.

          Like 4
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        • Ad Guy says:

          I worked in Advertising in New York for 25 years…I have heard this same nonsense from Clients my whole life. You need to Advertise if you are selling a premium product. The BVI charges $1000+ a night (Little Dix is opening in 3 weeks!!!). Someone is not going to pay that money if there isn’t a BRAND. We have to build the BVI Brand if we want to stay a premium product. The other option is to not spend advertising and become the Motel-6 of the caribbean. David Ogilvy once said “I know that 50% of my Advertising is a complete waste of money…the problem is I don’t know which 50%”

          Like 1
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    • Advertising says:

      Please leave marketing to the people that know what they are doing. If you don’t Advertise then people will not know the BVI exists (They have already forgot there was a storm here…). This place is going to continue to be a Third World country if we don’t start operating like a real world business. I have a villa rental business and I need people to know where the BVI’s are (and that it is a great place to come and spend your vacation). Great Job – and a Pat On the Back for the BVI Government to get this budget in place!!

  4. Great, NYC says:

    Just push those promo ADS.We want to see promotion ADS on the Subway platforms,in the trains, Long Island Railroad trains, Metro North trains and the NYC Transit Buses.We see a lot of promos for other Caribbean Countries on the above mentioned and TV commercials.There is nothing more welcoming than seeing a AD promoting a Caribbean desternation during the harsh cold winter while riding NYC crowded trains and buses.

    Like 10
    Dislike 3
    • Lol says:

      Foolishness! We are not like Jamaica and Bahamas and stuff who do mass marketing. Our place is not like other places. We offer a different experience. So why try to marketing like other places? Makes no sense. They need to go to private clubs like golf clubs and stuff and sailing clubs since we are sailing capital of the world. Getting people who have money can afford to stay here to come. Not no damn people in subways. That is not bvi market. People who can afford $300 per night villas, boats from Moorings and hotels like Scrub Island or Lil Dix Bay. BVI don’t have cheap accommodations not a lot of accommodations so it don’t make sense trying to attract poorer people who can’t afford to come nor a lot of people to come because we don’t have a lot of rooms. Probably less than 5000 rooms which is a little bit.

      Like 6
      Dislike 1
    • NYC says:

      Who would dislike this comment? I personally think the 3 dislike is persons who have a problem with TB and want them to fail. Stop putting a negative look on your Country.

  5. 5 cents says:

    pier park need some local music playing through a speaker system, S&D Security have systems to work this.

  6. Looking says:

    All the Tourist Board doing is using government money to live lavish life

    Like 19
    Dislike 1
    • @Looking says:

      Considering that the big wealthy companies our government welcome into our country, tax free at that, every tax payer should be concerned about what their tax dollars are being spent on. I agree, with the assertion that Tourist board dollars are being spent mostly lavish lifestyles. Ask any of those 50 plus so called tourist board employees what benefit does the 75-80,000 dollars a year does their performance mean For the country they couldn’t for certain say that their activities bring in 4 or 5 visitors a year. As a matter of fact, tourist board workers wages should be tied to performance

  7. LMB says:

    But TB haven’t gone to Standing Finance yet! They supposed to go this afternoon. So this story can’t be accurate. And $15m not for Tourist Board alone. I sure Premier keeping some his self. Find the truth

    • True true says:

      $15M allocation for tourism does not mean $15M for the tourist board. Just ask the Premier and his PS. Look beyond what you see.

  8. One eye fowl cock says:

    Take your a%%up trellis bay and clean the beach of those wrecks since 2017a crying shame

  9. Joke says:

    Save the money and use the fb bvi abroad group with 30,000 members. Only thing tourist board does is travel the world and set up a table. Has anyone ever booked a trip from a table with brochures? I prefer social media and word of mouth.
    That money could go a long way to improve the BVI.. and clean up the trash, roads, infrastructure, pockwood toxic cancer smoke, schools… should I keep going

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  10. Dman says:

    Maybe promote for the criminal money laundering crowd to come and visit their money.

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
  11. Dots says:

    I have model with bvi ties feature with champion, lacoste, Hollister. Great product for the bvi. Will be happy to promo my hometown

  12. Retired says:

    The BVITB is an anachronism from the 1970’s when there was no internet, social media, etc. I recommend that the TB be suspended for 2020 so ZERO dollars are spent. If the number of overnight tourists to the BVI drops in 2021 then re-activate the TB. If the number of overnight tourists to the BVI increases or stays the same for 2021 then permanently dissolve the TB.

    Like 3
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  13. TurtleDove says:

    Should we clean up the place first?

  14. Goodluck says:

    Scandanavians, and to a slightly lesser degree Canadians, are highly aware and ethical travelers.
    They won’t visit a destinations that actively promotes animal cruelty by supporting captive dolphins ‘entertaining’ humans or actively discriminate against certain members of their population.
    In addition they prefer more prisitine destinations where they actually feel welcome rather than viewed as walking dollar signs.
    I suggest the BVI targets the Russian, Chinese and Arab markets… places where both human and animal rights are held in far less regard. And the bonus of this is that the BVI populous hosts will actually get rudely treated by their guests rather than vice versa.

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