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BVI Now: 'World's first' non-data plan/wifi travel app developed in VI

- New app provides users access to accurate navigation & mapping of places of interests in the [British] Virgin Islands
From left: Executive of the BVI Now liaison team Mr David Penn, Public Relations Manager of the BVI Tourist Board and Film Commission, Mr Keith A. Dawson and developer of the BVI Now app Mr Chuck Krallman at the launch of the app on February 12, 2020. Photo: VINO
The BVI Now app has a variety of categories to choose from, depending on your interests. Photo: VINO
The BVI Now app has a variety of categories to choose from, depending on your interests. Photo: VINO
Map of Wickham's Cay 1, Tortola, indicating places of interest for tourists and residents alike on the BVI Now app. Photo: VINO
Map of Wickham's Cay 1, Tortola, indicating places of interest for tourists and residents alike on the BVI Now app. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- A first of its kind travel app that uses latest smartphone technologies to provide users access to accurate navigation and mapping of the [British] Virgin Islands (VI), without the use of wifi and mobile data, has been created to assist tourists and even persons residing in the Virgin Islands.

Under the patronage of the BVI Tourist Board and Film Commission (BVITB), NANO, a tech company in the VI, launched the app BVI Now at a press conference yesterday February 12, 2020.

The media was told that the new app will ease the frustration of being fed incorrect and outdated information about places of business and interest in the Virgin Islands.

New App will ‘distance’ VI from the competition

Prior to taking reporters through the paces of the new app, Executive of the BVI Now liaison team, Mr David Penn said he believes “it is the very first type [of app] in the world" and that he is confident the new mapping tool will distance the Virgin Islands from the rest of the worldwide competition.

"Not just regionally, but globally, it’s the first."

Mr Penn added that the push to develop the app started as the need became more evident for tourists to have accurate mapping when visiting the Territory.

"The first phase is focused on the tourist experience here.

"What we have done in preparing this app, we found that there are several small businesses that do not have a digital footprint or a digital presence in the world, we wanted to correct that."

Mr Penn emphasised his belief that the BVI Now app, which will continue to be expanded, will be transformational for the Territory.

"There is a very significant component that is going to be especially designed for use by people who live and work here. The categories that currently exist in the app is going to be our next update, version 1.2," noted Mr Penn.

App was created by VI Belonger Chuck Krallman

The tech brain behind the inner workings of the app is Technology Inventor and Marketing Strategist, Belonger Chuck Krallman, who said that most tourists to the territory do not have data plans on their phone.

"If you go to the Pier Park when a ship is in you will see tourists with a paper in their hand that is not very accurate. The ships are in for eight hours, often they [tourists] go back and forth because there is not a lot of guidance that they are given on what attractions are available here in the BVI or what’s around them as they move through town. Now we are giving them a resource, especially on mobile, because people are used to information at their fingertips."

An ‘indispensable tool’- Premier Fahie

The App includes a welcome by Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1).

Speaking on the launch of the App, Hon Fahie said: “We invite our guests to use the BVI Now app as their gateway to discover new experiences during their stay. Through this app, which utilizes the latest technologies, I am happy that our guests now have an avenue through which they can browse and learn about land and water-based activities, attractions, and access an array of businesses that provide the best the BVI has to offer.

“We believe BVI Now will enhance our guests’ experience, whether they are visiting for a day, a week, or longer. We also believe people who live and work in the BVI will find it to be an indispensable tool.”

An ‘insider’s guide’ to the VI- BVITB

The BVI Tourist Board and Film Commission, in a press release, said the VI tourism industry has faced many unique challenges after hurricanes Irma and Maria, such as the lack of correct maps for the Territory and no comprehensive directory of tourist businesses, with up-to-date contact information and hours of operation.

“People today demand information to be available at their fingertips, but most tourists in the BVI don’t have mobile service data plans.”

BVITB said he BVI Now app provides an updated listing of VI businesses, with verified locations and current contact information.

“It is an “insider’s guide” to the BVI, as it has been packed with local tips and helpful information. When our guests are near a place of interest they are automatically notified with information about that place. Most importantly, BVI Now operates even if the user hasn’t purchased a data plan or has lost their cell signal.”

App available for free download

The BVI Now app was launched after months of development, detailed mapping of virtually all tourism-related businesses and attractions in the VI, and stakeholder consultations including a series of roadshows with tourism industry partners on the VI’s four main islands.  

BVI Now app is available for free download on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

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