A BVI student at Nanny Cay during the BVI Tourist Board Internship Programme.
Photo Credit: TB
Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn has told graduates at a recent ceremony that he is depending on them to change the current situation in the charter industry which is largely untouched by the local population.
Speaking at the Bregado Flax Educational Centre (Secondary Division), Graduation ceremony, Minister Walwyn told the graduates that the `our sailing waters are known throughout the world and very few destinations can boast "our pristine waters and the opportunity to touch down on so many islands in one day".
He added that tourists pay upwards of $2000 for a 10-day sailing excursion and the captains and crew on those yachts come from as far as New Zealand, England and South Africa.
"Who knows these waters more than the young men and women that have swam, dived and sailed our seas from the time of their birth? Who can give tourists a truly unique experience of the history and people of our islands? Graduates, our charter industry and the many lucrative opportunities it provides are largely untouched by our local population," Minister Walwyn stated.
He said citizens are missing out on opportunities to own tourism based establishments, to work in this sector and learn about an industry that puts bread on the table for the majority of residents in the Virgin Islands.
Furthermore, he said that the tourism industry is too important to the economy to not have Virgin Islanders in the majority of key positions and establishments.
"That is the situation we find ourselves in today and graduates we are depending on you to change that," Minister Walwyn implored the graduates.
He said that the same can be said for financial services industry. According to the Minister, when the Virgin Islands arrived on the financial services scene, the way policies and laws were developed to constructively develop the sector was ingenuity at its best.
He shared that "the sector was not one that was handed to us", but it was Virgin Islanders like the late Chief Ministers, Cyril B. Romney and H. Lavity Stoutt, the current Premier, Dr. D. Orlando Smith and 9th District Representative, Hon. Ralph T. O´Neal that chartered waters in the industry and secured a space for the Virgin Islands to become a world leader in the sector.
According to the Minister, from time to time, the industry is being tested where the yardstick for transparency and regulation keeps on shifting.
He said that for the Territory to stay in this industry there is a need for a fresh set of minds to challenge and address the evolving requirements.
"We need young persons such as yourselves to soon replace the Virgin Islanders that are heading our industry in both the private sector and statutory boards. We need to ensure that in 2032, the Virgin Islands remain a premier financial services jurisdiction, with young persons like yourselves leading this sector," Minister Walwyn stated.
He added that much of today´s lifestyle is largely attributed to the financial and tourism industries.
"Whether you know someone in the industry or not, the economic contribution these industries make helps all of us to live an above standard lifestyle in comparison to most other Caribbean states. Without the right leadership guiding this industry, without Virgin Islanders and citizens like yourselves working at all levels in this industry, it can surely be taken from us," Minister Walwyn stated.