During Standing Finance Committee deliberations, BVI Tourist Board Director Sharon Flax-Brutus requested a budget of $14.2 million, an increase from $10.5 million in previous years.
The request was approved, she confirmed Tuesday: The government’s 2019 budget estimates list the board’s grant for this year as $14,265,200.
In response to questions from Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley, Ms. Flax-Brutus said in April that the budget had remained at $10.5 million since her appointment as director six years ago.
Junior Minister for Tourism Shereen Flax-Charles, Second District Representative Melvin “Mitch” Turnbull and Opposition Leader Marlon Penn expressed their support for the budget increase, according to a report on the closed door SFC deliberations.
Deputy Speaker Neville Smith asked what measures the BVITB is taking to keep the Virgin Islands “clean and beautiful.”
Ms. Flax-Brutus responded that the board was working with the Ministry of Health and Social Development, particularly the Department of Waste Management, as well as private entities.
She added that the agency also has a staff member on Road Town’s beautification committee.
Mr. Smith (R-at large) also mentioned the garbage bins throughout the VI and suggested barriers to hide the “unsightly” traffic hazards, to which Ms. Flax-Brutus said she was working “diligently” with the DWM to address this problem.
Mr. Penn (R-D8) asked how the BVITB would use the funds to support the sports tourism and heritage tourism that he is trying to promote in his own district.
Ms. Flax-Brutus responded that the board would be allocating money throughout all the districts, and was working specifically on bringing more cruise ship passengers to the Eighth District by working on additional signage and roadwork.
She added that she was also working to enhance the sports tourism product by bringing in more athletic tournaments; building up infrastructure like roads, hotels and taxis; and spending more on marketing and advertising.
Mr. Penn also pressed Ms. Flax-Brutus on plans to build a visitor terminal at Trellis Bay. She responded that funding for the terminal was received in December 2018 and that a plan was in place, with hopes that the terminal be made an official port.