Businessman Allington ‘Gumption’ Creque who owns and operates Sea It Clear glass bottom tour said the past year has been tough. He’s paid more than $26,000 in refunds between March 26, 2020 and two weeks ago.
But having secured a handful of bookings and done a few odd tours to stay afloat, he said the tourism landscape for himself and other Virgin Gorda businesses has been ‘reasonable’ in recent times.
Here’s how he put it: “Things went from red (which represents no business at all), to yellow, and now going green. You can see green coming … It’s pretty fair. And with the BVI not having any active cases, that can be a big advantage to us as well.”
Creque said he hopes to become fully operational by March 20 and he feels very optimistic about the future.
As for keeping his business afloat, the young businessman said the few tours he has been able to do was possible because of both visitors and local customers.
“Some people are still cancelling while some people are still booking so any booking right now is important,” he explained, adding that local tourism businesses — especially those on Virgin Gorda — form an interconnected network.
“These people (visitors and tourism consumers) are staying somewhere, they’re renting somebody’s car to get to me, they’re eating at somebody’s restaurant, they’re catching somebody’s taxi, they’re catching somebody’s ferry to get to Virgin Gorda … and I’m very grateful,” Creque said.
A number of local tourism-related businesses have closed their doors, while others have been employing alternative strategies as they try to stay afloat amid the closure of the seaports – which account for the majority of the BVI’s tourist arrivals.
Just recently, Nanny Cay Marina established a creative way to attract business by circumventing the current closure of the territory’s sea borders.
Last year, taxi operators started offering delivery services to locals when tourist arrivals were cut off due to the full border closure of the territory.
Local hotels and resorts also started offering ‘staycations’ at reduced costs to attract locals to their business and stay afloat amid the trying times.
“This last is important. Even in corporate environments, it is very difficult to remove an underling for incompetence if that underling has seniority and a long history of good performance reviews. As in government bureaucracies, the easiest way to deal with such people is often to “kick them upstairs”: promote them to a higher post, where they become somebody else’s problem.”