The BVI Ports Authority’s $50 million plans to extend the cruise ship dock and provide extended facilities for passengers will serve as a “catalyst” and stir a “repositioning” of the territory’s flagging cruise tourism business, Premier Dr. Orlando Smith said Tuesday.
Speaking during a luncheon at Treasure Isle Hotel sponsored by the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association, Dr. Smith touted a list of opportunities that he said more passengers could provide.
The facilities at the proposed Tortola Pier Park, he said, are a main example. Restaurants and shops to be placed in the planned “vendor’s emporium,” which will sell both local and imported goods, are being sought, he said.
Passenger figures declined from 571,000 passengers in 2008 to about 367,000 passengers in 2013, according to the premier. He added, though, that an additional 29,000 passengers have visited the territory so far this year compared to the same time period last year.
However, not all attendees at the luncheon were as keen on cruise tourism as Dr. Smith.
Charlotte McDevitt, executive director of the non-profit GreenVI, said that she doesn’t feel the passengers “spend any money in the territory.”
“My question is what we do we get from cruise ship people?” she asked. “We get their traffic congestion, we get their sewage, we get their litter, but we don’t get their money. So why are we investing all this money into a sector we may not get the returns from?”
Dr. Smith responded that her experience appeared to differ from the many businesspeople he said are excited about the project.
See the July 31, 2014 edition for full coverage.