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'There is tremendous potential' for VI as an events destination- Premier Wheatley

Scenes from the Non-Stop Concert held on Friday, June 30, 2023. Photo: Team of Reporters/File
Dr Hon Wheatley said the local Music Fest and the addition of 'Taste of Tortola' and 'Taste of Virgin Gorda' to the event calendar, is expected to attract day-trippers and overnighters. Photo: VINO/File
Dr Hon Wheatley said the local Music Fest and the addition of 'Taste of Tortola' and 'Taste of Virgin Gorda' to the event calendar, is expected to attract day-trippers and overnighters. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – Despite some backlash over the non-stop concert held in July 2023, Virgin Islands (VI) Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr The Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) says there is tremendous potential for the VI to be an events destination.

The Premier’s statements came during the delivery of his 2024 Budget Speech at the Sixth Sitting of the First Session of the Fifth House of Assembly (HoA) held at Eileene L. Parsons Auditorium, H. Lavity Stoutt Community College campus at Paraquita Bay on Tuesday, November 21, 2023.

“There is tremendous potential for the Virgin Islands as an events destination, as we continue to host local annual events such as the Virgin Gorda Easter Festival, the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, One BVI Poker Run, Christmas in July, Anegada Lobster Festival, BVI Food Fete, BVI Summer Sizzle, Foxy’s New Year’s Eve celebration,” he said.

Dr Wheatley said the local Music Fest and the addition of 'Taste of Tortola' and 'Taste of Virgin Gorda' to the events calendar, is expected to attract day-trippers and overnighters.

“Worthy to note, Madam Speaker, is that this year is the 70th Anniversary of our Emancipation Festival and we have allocated resources for a grand celebration that will attract visitors and energise our residents,” he added. 

The Finance Minister also said direct flights from Miami to the Virgin Islands by American Airlines, and continued operation of the Virgin Gorda Airport, have contributed to the observed increase in overnighters and day-trippers to the Territory in 2023 over 2022.

More than 1M tourists projected for 2024 

“The end-of-year tally for overnighters in the Virgin Islands is expected to reach 241,639; a 38.6% increase from 2022. If the trends continue, it was projected that tourism revenue for 2023 could climb to $375.45 million,” he added.

Dr Wheatley said it is anticipated that 2024 would record total arrivals above one million visitors, with cruise visitors reaching almost 730,000, day-trippers just over 16,000, and overnighters around 270,000. Based on these anticipated arrivals in 2024, it is projected that tourism revenue for the Territory could reach $410.77 million.

The Premier said to reap the results, the VI has to promote and market its tourism products.

“Apart from promoting the BVI as a destination for events, substantial gains can also be realised by marketing the Virgin Islands more to luxury brands, and from continued publicity at the Virtuoso Travel Week and Caribbean Travel Market. The BVITB’s partnership with Travel Desk (a data-driven media company) to launch the North American Sail and Stay summer campaign is also likely to have a very positive impact,” the Premier added.

Under the theme ‘Planning, Priorities & Progress - Building a Sustainable Nation’, Dr Wheatley (R7) presented a budget totalling $399,838,963 for 2024.

27 Responses to “'There is tremendous potential' for VI as an events destination- Premier Wheatley”

  • Streups (24/11/2023, 10:19) Like (40) Dislike (1) Reply
    I big mad that you wasted that money on that free concert when we had so many different projects that we could have used it on. This place is the pits!
  • 2cent (24/11/2023, 10:38) Like (24) Dislike (1) Reply
    Jesus take the wheel here DOCTOR WUK UP goes again . Meh rass
  • lmao (24/11/2023, 10:41) Like (17) Dislike (2) Reply
    Talk about cluelessness! Tax say waste man! None of those things are new!
  • Stop telling lies (24/11/2023, 10:43) Like (18) Dislike (1) Reply
    This politician needs to stop telling lies.. the BVI don’t have enough hotels to place people in.. loook what happened when Buju came.. government was out begging people to make space for visitors.. smh shame shame shame
  • WTF (24/11/2023, 10:54) Like (29) Dislike (0) Reply
    No there isn’t. It’s one of the most expensive and remote places to get to with the one of the highest costs of living. That all translates into a higher cost for events and their attendees. Fix the economy and then you grow these things. A MINISTER OF FINANCE should understand these basic economic principles.
    • Agree with WTF (24/11/2023, 15:38) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
      Fix the Roads
      Fix the sewage outfall (into the water Right offshore at Slaney - with a big slick resulting for all to see on the Channel)
      Fix Pockwood Pond
      Fix the Crime wave

  • lol (24/11/2023, 10:57) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
    I agree! All persons visiting can stay at any of Marias 400 rooms...OH WAIT???!!! SMFH, I am convinced that people just get a kick out of talking fuckry!!!
    • lmao (24/11/2023, 15:34) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
      @lol, Marias? No one want to stay in a Hotel that houses illegal immigrants. Why don’t the Premier check into Maria’s for a couple of nights and mingle with the illegals. I bet he won’t.
  • lol (24/11/2023, 11:10) Like (16) Dislike (2) Reply
    this guy lives in cloud cuckoo land. Sort out the infrastruture, we need accommodations, we need better airlift. Aleays trying to put the cart before the horse
  • lol (24/11/2023, 11:31) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    The question is how much of the money actually remains in the territory? How much of it will actually go towards development?
  • All I know is (24/11/2023, 11:32) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
  • my2cents (24/11/2023, 12:17) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    I don't know if the infrastructure, society, or hotels can handle that sort of thing. We are not a party place like that and slow steps towards it may be better than a plunge into it. We couldn't even do musicfest properly. Let's hae some proper planning on this.
  • annudda2cents (24/11/2023, 12:22) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    With the clear exception of the late Lavity Stoutt, and to a certain extent, the late Ralph O'Neal and Orlando Smith, most of the Territory's past and present leaders have lacked vision. Make it worse with the pushback from many influential persons within the community at large on many forward-thinking projects brought to the table that sadly been shelved or died a slow death. We have tremendous potential in this Territory yes, but we also have tremendous lack of vision. Meanwhile, our Caribbean counterparts are moving onwards and upwards.
  • WEW (24/11/2023, 12:29) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    Government circus
  • NO LIE AT ALL (24/11/2023, 13:07) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
  • Nothing but a dreamer (24/11/2023, 13:23) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    Overseas Event Organisers will take one look at the roads and unreliable electricity supply, they will then look elsewhere.
  • HAHA (24/11/2023, 13:38) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    This man seriously needs to consider being a party planner. And to all the people putting ideas in his head about being divine, YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. Please stop and go and repent!!!
  • Jane (24/11/2023, 13:51) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    Has Natalio considered marketing us as a ski destination? Mount Sage and Gorda Mount would be perfect!
    • @Jane (24/11/2023, 15:00) Like (1) Dislike (3) Reply
      Are you talking about putting on actual snow skis and ski wear? You need actual snow for that and snow does not fall in the BVI. Unless they plan to bring in snow making machines which cost thousands of dollars to run and maintain. And I don’t think anyone here have the knowledge to do that.
      • lodger (24/11/2023, 15:50) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
        To @Jane. Dont you recognise irony when you see it? Meanwhile, from today you can skate on artificial ice at Nanny Cay.
    • @Jane (24/11/2023, 16:12) Like (2) Dislike (4) Reply
  • resident (24/11/2023, 14:06) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    250k could have fixed a lot of potholes so tourists couldn't pose in them
  • VG Resident (24/11/2023, 15:42) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    How about opening the Virgin Gorda airport so that local folks can use it. It is a PUBLIC airport but no one is allowed to use it.
  • wuk (24/11/2023, 17:33) Like (0) Dislike (5) Reply
    Simply put, showsnde has what it takes to tackle bvi challenges as our premier. You haters will not prevail
  • Lb (24/11/2023, 19:39) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    This destination caters to the high end tourists. People who can afford to bring their children and grandchildren on the same vacation. These tour of people spend thousands of dollars a night to stay in places like little Dix and Bitter end and even cheaper places like Scrub or Lambert that are still $600 a night. They stay on yachts like the Moorings and Dream yacht charters for tens of thousands of dollars. They don’t want no set of noisy events drawing a barrage of lower income people. They will stop coming here if BVI becomes overrun like Punta Cana or even the USVI. These people pay for exclusivity and to say they went to a bucket list type of place. We need to stay in our lane and stop trying to be like everybody else. We need to learn exactly who our target market is and give them exceptional service, exceptional options to get to the BVI, exceptional infrastructure. They are happy to sail, dive, surf, eat awesome food, act like they from here, and pay for unique little activities like pottery or see through kayaking. They already don’t like having to share the Baths with lower income cruise ship tourists. They don’t want to mix. Stay in our lane like Saba and just become the very best at serving these high networth tourists. But Slowande thinks he knows everything. Then has a waste of time Chairman over Tourist Board and then knows that Mcoy man don’t know nothing about tourism but refuse to move him because he is a yes-man. The government side of tourism is in shambles and Mr Premier strutting around like the emperor with the invisible robe on while everybody laughing at us. He need to bring in people who know the industry and let them do their thing and stay out their way. Under Flax and Skelton we had the record breaking years before the hurricane and then was doing it again before the Covid. Head Coach smart azz get rid of Flax and you get rid of Skelton. The 2 people who understood the industry best and had the drive. All for politics and because they wouldn’t bow to your political puppets called a board of directors. You must stop it!
  • Wait (25/11/2023, 01:13) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Hey we got plenty of prostitutes and coke . Who needs roads , water , sewerage , or electricity?
  • His record (25/11/2023, 07:55) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    More hot air, after election nothing!!

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