Wheatley Expresses Confidence In Tourism Sector

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By Sonje Greenidge, Journalist

Updated 10:49 AM AST, Thu May 19, 2022

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(PLTM) - Dr. Natalio Wheatley has expressed confidence in the tourism sector during his press conference on May 13th.

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He stated that globally, COVID-19 restrictions have been reduced and likewise in the Virgin Islands, travel restrictions have been lifted offering much relief to bars, restaurants, hotels and rented accommodation facilities who has been adversely impacted by the pandemics.

This relief will also be contributed by relaxing the vaccination mandate.

Dr. Wheatley stated that, “Recently, we announced an update to our protocols for entry into the Virgin Islands to allow partially and unvaccinated arriving travellers to start their vacations without going into quarantine if their arrival test is negative.”

He also commended the BVI Tourist Board (BVITB) and Film Commission for their exceptional work in marketing the Virgin Islands tourism product to the rest of the world. The excellent portrayal of the Virgin Islands as an ideal travel destination has increased its appeal in the global tourism market.

According to statistics from the Central Statistics Office, the BVI achieved increases of 13 and 23 times the number of overnight visitors in January and February of 2022 respectively, when compared to the same period in 2021, Dr. Wheatley revealed. Since reopening for cruise visitors, a reported 138,694 cruise visitors were welcomed through February 2022, pointing to improvements in this sector as well.

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While these statistics do not reflect pre-pandemic numbers, it is still an indication that significant improvements in visitations to the Virgin Islands, despite the ongoing pandemic. Further, the phased reopening of the economy has benefited visitors and tourists alike and has been undertaken to manage risk of COVID infection.

It was also reported that yachting sector performed well and welcomed Waypoint Yacht Charters and was able to host the 49th BVI Spring Regatta which was said to be a success.

“We also welcomed the reopening of many hotels and villas and the expansion of our yacht charter industry as we cater to the growing demand from guests arriving over the coming months. Most notable are the reopening of landmark properties in North Sound, Saba Rock and the Bitter End Yacht Club and the opening of our newest marina at Blunder Bay as the start of a major resort development,” Dr. Wheatley announced.

He added, “Our teams in collaboration with our tourism industry partners TIPs have attended dive shows, boat shows, wedding and honeymoon shows and shows for the meetings, incentives, conventions and events (MICE); most notably, the Progressive New England Boat Show; the New York Times Travel Adventure Shows in Chicago, Washington DC, and New York and most recently, the 2022 Miami International Boat Show.”

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1 Comment
Hotelier
Not difficult to show large multiples of visitors compared to the days when the islands were completely shut down. Business is not back to pre Irma levels or anywhere near. Still we have ridiculous plastic shields, masked servers, officious immigration staff, armed morning raids, West End closed and the rump of a government that never gave a toss about tourism and still doesnt.
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