Business leaders and government officials gathered last week to celebrate the rebranding of the former BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association. The organisation has split into two, with the BVI Chamber of Commerce focusing on local businesses and the BVI Yachting, Hotel and Tourism Association focusing on the hospitality sector. (Photo: BVICOC)

During an hour-long ceremony last week, the former BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association formally announced its rebranding.

It is now simply the BVI Chamber of Commerce after officially branching off from the recently formed BVI Yachting, Hotel and Tourism Association.

The decision was made by the BVICCHA board last year, according to Chairwoman Shaina Smith-Archer.

“The board saw the opportunity to strengthen the organisation and more efficiently advocate for small business sector by separating into its two original organisations: the chamber of commerce and the hotel association,” she said. “Today, we’re excited to announce the rebranding of the BVICCHA to the BVI Chamber of Commerce.”

The Aug. 22 BVICOC launch followed the May launch of the BVIYHTA, with Sharon Flax-Brutus acting as interim executive director. At the time, Ms. Flax-Brutus said the newly formed organisation would focus largely on helping to create a roadmap for the territory’s tourism industry while establishing partnerships between the public and private sectors.

Chamber’s mission

Last week, Ms. Smith-Archer said the BVICOC’s mission is to “empower, educate and equip businesses for their success and growth.” She added that the 275-plus-member organisation will focus on developing a comprehensive economic development strategy for the next 10 years; bolstering the workforce; advocating for regulatory efficiency; and mentoring future leaders.

Also during the launch, Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley acknowledged frustration from the business community about the “inefficient provision of government services necessary to the functioning of their operations.”

“If it is any comfort, we have embarked on a series of initiatives aimed at reducing the bureaucratic headache experienced by our private sector,” Dr. Wheatley told attendees.

‘Tremendous opportunities’

The keynote speaker was Caribbean Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Petipha Lewis-Smith, who predicted that the rebranded organisation’s transition will bring challenges and “tremendous opportunities.”

“I recall the words of Warren Bennis, scholar and author, when he said leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality,” she said. “This is what was achieved recently with the separating of yachting, hotel and tourism found in the Chamber of Commerce. Separating these entities provides distinct platforms for addressing the unique challenges and opportunities faced by both the business and tourism sectors.”

Ms. Lewis-Smith added that the business and hospitality sectors have different dynamics, priorities and goals. By creating separate organisations, each sector will receive the specialised attention and tailored support it needs, she added.

“A refreshed brand identity can energise engagement, attract new members — and symbolises the beginning of a new era,” Ms. Lewis-Smith said. “A rebranded Chamber of Commerce can serve as an icon for forward-thinking leadership.”