From the catastrophic hurricanes of 2017 to the crippling Covid-19 pandemic, the Virgin Islands tourism industry has repeatedly proven its resilience.
Nevertheless, the sector urgently needs attention, said Sharon Flax-Brutus, interim executive director of the newly established BVI Yachting, Hotel and Tourism Association.
Last Thursday at LVL3 Cocktail Bar, the BVIYHTA was officially launched during a reception that featured music and local cocktails.
“Welcome to the rising wave of BVI tourism,” Ms. Flax-Brutus said as she began her remarks.
She went on to explain that the BVIYHTA is dedicated to supporting, building, and helping to create a roadmap for the tourism industry. She added that it will work to establish partnerships between businesses and public sector entities including the BVI Tourist Board and central government.
Health and Social Development Minister Vincent Wheatley spoke on behalf of Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley and presented the new organisation with a $20,000 cheque from the government.
Other industry partners who spoke during the ceremony included Stacy Cox, CEO of the Turks and Caicos Islands Hotel and Tourism Association; Shaina Smith Archer, chair of the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association; and Vernon Jeffers, past executive chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotel and Tourism Association.
Discussions about a reorganisation of the BVICCHA began last year when the board of directors formed a working group “to explore the feasibility of establishing an organisation,” the BVICCHA stated in a March press release.
“The findings of the group confirmed that the hospitality industry stakeholders were resoundingly in favour of the initiative,” the release added. “A roadmap for the formation of a hotel and tourism association was produced, presented to the board of directors, and subsequently approved in December 2022.”
Work under way
The BVIYHTA got to work shortly after it launched, with representatives collaborating with the BVITB to attend the Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Barbados from Tuesday through today.
That event affords tourism suppliers the opportunity to meet face-to-face with wholesalers from around the world selling Caribbean vacation travel, according to Ms. Flax-Brutus.
“We have over 30 appointments scheduled so far,” she said during the launch.
For more information on the BVIYHTA, contact the association’s secretary, Sally Ann Riley, at firstname.lastname@example.org.