Junior Minister of Tourism, Hon. Sharie de Castro has been given a mandate to produce a national tourism plan within the next 12 months.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon. Andrew Fahie disclosed that the Junior Minister will have a senior Tourism Advisor and a special committee would be formed which she will Chair.
"As we look toward optimising our position in tourism, the Junior Minister of Tourism will be given the full authority and mandate to complete the National Tourism Plan by year-end 2021, so that this can be incorporated in the revenue stream for 2022," Premier Fahie disclosed in his new year's message to the Territory.
He explained that the special committee will include the Director of Tourism and the Chair of the BVI Tourist Board; President of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College; the Financial Secretary; the Managing Director and Chair of the BVI Airports Authority; the Managing Director and Chair of the BVI Ports Authority; Town and Country Planning; Head of Survey; President of BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association; Sister Islands member from Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda and Anegada; the Taxi and Livery Association, as well as representatives from Oil Nut Bay, Necker Island and many of our other resorts, a Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park representative; a Crafts Alive representative among other representatives on this committee.
The Premier indicated that the role of the committee would be to review the Draft National Tourism Plan once it is completed.
"I must say that while development to a National Tourism Plan has been on the agenda of the Virgin Islands Government for some time now, there is something to be said about the timing," the Premier stated.
He said discussions on the National Tourism Plan prior to the emergence of COVID
-19 did not conceive of the changes to the operating environment that could be triggered by a global pandemic.
According to the Premier, the last few months of living and working with the pandemic has highlighted the importance of domestic markets, whereas we have traditionally been focused on the foreign visitors.
"What we have learnt is that our National Tourism Plan must be able to stand the test of any pandemic or disaster, and it must have a contingency plan built into it where initiatives such as Stay-cations will be more structured and be part of our national plan. This plan is also expected to address seasonal tourism," the Premier stated.