Cruise ships will return to the territory on Oct. 7, but government hasn’t announced the details of how it will handle an influx of thousands of passengers who aren’t required to test upon arrival. (File Photo: CLAIRE SHEFCHIK)

The BVI Ports Authority and the BVI Now app are partnering on a major 2022 update to the app in an effort to solve that problem, according to the app’s creator, Charles “Chuck” Krallman.

When they’re looking for more information about anything from new entry protocols to ice cream shops near Main Street, residents and repeat visitors to the Virgin Islands often know to check social media for the latest news about the territory.

However, cruise ship arrivals don’t always have that knowledge, or the internet connection necessary to find it, which in worst-case scenarios can leave them wandering aimlessly through town.

“This communication channel is an important one for them, as most tourists don’t look at local Facebook posts, but BVI Now has been used by tourists more than 180,000 times and had more than 2.3 million page views since it launched,” he explained. Mr. Krallman said that when
the app was launched just before the Covid pandemic, his company entered into a collaboration agreement with the ports. Now that cruise ships have returned in earnest, cruise ship passengers can download the updated BVI Now app from either the Android or Apple store, and get
greeted with a special message when they are detected entering
the territory.

Once on shore, they are then presented with several features, including two walking guides: one to Road Town and the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park and one to historic Main Street, highlighting attractions, local businesses and places of interest, and they work to help visitors
find their way around even if they don’t have a data plan.

For those venturing farther afield, the “Insider’s Guide to Tortola” features 30 locations full of pirate lore and cultural tidbits.

“I think it’s worked well for both parties and is a great example of a successful public-private partnership,” Mr. Krallman said.

“We’ve been thrilled working with them, as the BVIPA has made their industry partners — and the general public — aware of the app’s benefits. BVI Now has also played an important role for the BVIPA in getting their messaging out during Covid about changing protocols and procedures for entering the territory.”

Mr. Krallman called the app “the first travel app of its kind. It doesn’t require a data plan, but is able to send relevant messages about nearby places of interest to users, based on their location, anywhere in the BVI.”
BVIPA Managing Director Oleanvine Maynard called the app groundbreaking, adding that it “uniquely differentiates” the VI from other destinations in the Caribbean and around the world.

“The world is mobile and BVI Now helps our cruise ship guests make the most of their time ashore. We hope our guests will use the BVI Now app as their personal guide to explore and todiscover the history and culture that makes the BVI so special,” she said. “We believe BVI Now will enhance our guests’ experience, whether they’re discovering the BVI for the first time or discovering new favourites.”