The first six months of 2019 saw an increase in the arrival of tourists to the Virgin Islands compared to the same period in 2018, according to Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie in his recent 2020 Budget Address.
Addressing the House of Assembly on November 19, 2019, the Premier said the increase in arrivals comes in addition to the increase in calls by Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Disney, and Carnival Cruise Lines.
More tourists arriving
According to Hon Fahie, "[Increase arrivals] was the product of your Government, and myself as Premier, directly engaging them at the 2019 Seatrade Cruise Global event in Miami in April, and which increased arrivals for the current tourist season initially by 64,000 passengers."
He said the first half of 2019 saw a 75.9 percent increase in cruise tourist arrivals compared to 2018 and that Cruise operators are interested in increasing calls to the BVI.
Cruise ships may be stay until midnight!
Further, he said that there is also expressed interest in cruise ships staying at the port later into the night, such as until midnight.
"Mr Speaker, take a walk with me through Road Town at 9:00pm or 10:00pm and imagine the possibilities. Imagine a vibrant Capital, tourist visitors strolling, visiting the Craft Alive shops and other stores, bars and restaurants alive with activity, street food vendors and live musicians making profits," Premier Fahie said.
No Fantasy - Premier Fahie
He said such developments in the cruise industry will open doors of opportunities for providers of goods and services who support the industry background. "This is not a fantasy; it can be our reality... To capitalise on this, it is necessary to increase the berthing opportunities," Premier Fahie said.
He said options are being explored at the moment "due to the tremendous earning potential that this holds for our people" and that extended time in port can boost annual cruise arrivals to beyond one million passengers.