(Photo Credit: Billboard)
“Historic,” that is how Minister of Culture, Dr. the Hon. Natalio Wheatley described the Long Walk to Freedom concert featuring reggae superstar Buju Banton. The concert, which takes place on June 15, is one of the most epic entertainment events ever held in the BVI and it is believed to be a glimpse of what one aspect of full-fledged entertainment tourism looks like.
The Minister told legislators in the House of Assembly that the concert, which also has on card other renowned artistes and is attracting thousands of attendees from near and far, is historical.
“I am looking forward to the Buju Banton concert. This Buju Banton concert I am told has the potential to be the largest event in BVI history,” he told the House.
As Hon. Wheatley noted the significance of the event to BVI tourism, he said, “We always speak about tourism and different forms of tourism. When we have these opportunities staring us in our face, we must not be frightened by them. We must embrace these opportunities because of course we are trying to build our tourism product and this is exactly what we want – neighbours coming from the United States Virgin Islands, some coming from as far as the US mainland and other islands in the Caribbean.”
It was previously announced that there were efforts afoot to prevent Buju’s performance in the Territory and it was explained that as a means of thwarting such efforts, the Government temporarily vested certain immigration authority on the Minister for Labour and Immigration, Hon. Vincent Wheatley.
Now that the date of the show has arrived, the Minister of Culture is lauding the Government’s decision to ensure that show was not prevented on the grounds of immigration.
“I am pleased that we saw it fit here in the House to ensure that the Minister had the discretion necessary to be able to grant leave to land for persons who have been convicted of a criminal offense.”
During the show’s press conference that was held in early May, Deputy Director of the BVI Tourist Board, Rhodni Skelton announced that the show is expected to attract thousands of guests to the BVI and net over $300,000 in revenue for the BVI.
In noting the significance of the event, Skelton said, “It gives us an opportunity to showcase to the world what the BVI is capable of; that we have recovered so much so to the point that we can host a show of this magnitude that’s expected to bring way over 8,000 guests to the BVI.”
In noting revenues anticipated, the Deputy Director of the BVI Tourist Board said, “If you look at departure tax, multiply that up by the average 8,000 persons, you’re easily talking between $300,000, $400,000 just from that alone.”