TORTOLA — British Virgin Islands officials are gearing up for the relaunch of cruise tourism with the first of 193 calls to Tortola’s cruise pier through 2024 on Wednesday. It marks the second time since the pandemic began that cruise ships are returning to the BVI. The first call was in June before a COVID-19 outbreak in early July that saw up to 1,604 active cases and 36 deaths.
Junior Minister of Tourism Sharie de Castro and Premier Andrew Fahie, were among BVI officials attending the recent Seatrade Global 2021 in Miami, where confirmation of the 193 calls was made. According to de Castro, she said that it was important to demonstrate the territory’s desire and commitment to welcome their cruise partners and interest in the BVI remains high.
“This confirmation indicates that the cruise industry is confident in our ability as a territory to deliver a safe and excellent cruise product for their guests,” de Castro said. “These additional calls represent most of our major cruise lines such as Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. The territory can expect a total 299 calls with 193 at the cruise pier for the 2021/2022 season with a projected increase the following the season.”
The BVI Tourist Board, de Castro said, will be providing information with respect to hospitality training, which includes a COVID-19 training component and appealed to all relevant businesses to participate and should contact the board directly.
“The goal, of course, is to ensure that businesses that serves the tourism industry are fully prepared to operate in a safe environment,” she said.
Fahie said that the BVI is open for business and the government is committed to ensuring that the economy is revived.
“The BVI is opened for business and tourism and whatever needs to be done to ensure that our people get back to work in this sector and make sure that they are feeding their families again; that Crafts Alive is alive again; Tortola Pier Park is alive again; our taxi operators are alive again, can meet their commitments monthly,” he said. “This is where our emphasis is.”
Fahie also recognized the BVI Ports Authority, BVI Airports Authority and the BVI Tourist Board, health officials, Taxi and Livery commission and the private sector for helping to move tourism in the right direction.
“We expect to have a robust season of cruise tourism, safeguarded by constant monitoring and adjustments as needed to ensure that we continue to benefit from all tourism dollars,” Fahie said.