Minister for Health and Social Development Hon. Carvin Malone said the tourism boom being experienced in the neighbouring USVI is linked to United States tourists capitalizing on free vaccines.
The boom has been a hot topic in the BVI of late after photos of a packed airport terminal in St Thomas started making the rounds, which is a far cry from the smaller numbers at the T. B. Lettsome International Airport or even the seaports as they still remain closed to international traffic.
During the VIP’s Let’s Talk, Radio Programme on Tuesday, the Health Minister addressed the issue.
“In the USVI, there is a silver lining in terms of there is a movement of people and its looking impressive, but why is it? They are being attracted to it because the local population basically is refusing also almost at the same ratio to be vaccinated. So the folks in the United States, the folks in North America they are saying, “oh yeah? You have something there that might get outdated?”
Minister Malone also pointed out that the airlines and hotels have dropped their prices, effectively making travel cheaper.
“So they are calling it a vaci-cation, vaccination –vacation. So you can come to the USVI for two weeks, get your particular vaccination, stay two weeks, go on the beach, sail, and then you come and get the second one.”He then pointed out that the tourists are travelling for thousands of miles because they are aware of the benefits of being vaccinated, while in the BVI context, similarly to the USVI, locals are remaining hesitant to accept their jabs.
Meanwhile, Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio Wheatley also commented on the boom.
"Some people would look across the USVI, and we are one Virgin Islands, one people, and we want all of us to be doing well, but we understand that they have federal restrictions to what they can do over there in the USVI. But, many persons are looking at the USVI and are saying that they are experiencing a boom in their tourism numbers, but I have to be responsible and tell the people of the Virgin Islands
that this does not come without a price,” the Deputy Premier stated.
He added, “While in the BVI we have one COVID
-19 death, in the USVI they have 26, which we are saddened by, but when persons act as if they would almost exchange both situations, they would exchange the USVI situation for the BVI situation they almost ignore the fact that the USVI has a much higher death count than we do. Just about any other place you look where there is a high number of positives, the death count goes up.”