“Virgin Islands businesses are the backbone of the economy,” Ms. Smith said, adding that 2019 budget estimates projected the territory to have a real gross domestic product value of over $1.1 billion in 2018.
For that reason, she said, collaborative relationships between the public and business sector leaders are “essential to push our economy on a positive path as we enter a new stage in our national recovery and a new decade in the 21st Century, where global investments have been taking place at an unprecedented pace.”
Media were asked to leave after the opening ceremony, but the official programme stated that the forum would alternate between industry presentations and group discussions on tourism, construction, the environment, yachting, ease of doing business, and youth entrepreneurship.
During his remarks before the forum, the premier said the government is doing all it can to provide economic opportunity, but he added that the private sector will continue to play the largest role, especially as the VI’s traditional industries of financial services and tourism face threats.
“We are encouraging private individuals and corporate entities to look carefully at the present and changing landscape, and identify those openings that you can turn into viable business opportunities,” he said.
He outlined the government’s three-point plan for the economy, which is to ensure that financial services stakeholders continue to stabilise the sector; to increase earnings from tourism by increasing visitor volume and visitor spending; and to continue to develop the necessary infrastructure for business, including education.
“We must have the means of getting people and goods in and out of the territory without hassle, and -very important -we must have a trained and qualified cadre of people to perform at the highest levels in organisations,” he said.
Did you hear that we're writing Iraq's new Constitution?
Why not just give them ours? We're not using it anymore.