(Photo Credit: GIS)
Despite criticisms that his trip to Miami, Florida in April was for luxurious reasons, Premier and Minister responsible for tourism, Hon. Andrew Fahie has defended himself, saying it was justifiable.
“I was proud to go out there and renegotiate the plans,” the Premier said during a live interview on ZBVI today, June 14, while referring to renegotiation with some major international cruise lines.
Based on this, Premier Fahie expressed full confidence that more cruise ships will dock here, and many families across the island will feel the direct benefits of the tourism industry.
He said, “The big deal is, we were able to get a big ship back.” Carnival Sunrise is expected to make an inaugural call here on Friday, while Royal Caribbean will be bringing one of its major ships in July and throughout the summer season.
But the Premier did not take all the praise for himself. In fact, he said it was a united effort by the local tourism and Government officials who accompanied him on the trip to Miami.
"We had to rebuild trust with the industry...the cruise ship companies have also noted that the new Government has a new approach,” he explained to listeners during the live programme.
He added, “We planted a lot of good seed to now sprout good fruits for tomorrow.”
Premier Fahie also stated that Government intends to make some other announcements later on other big plans in tourism.
He recalled that the major challenge to the BVI had to do with some cruise lines (at least one of them) not keeping their part of the agreement to make sure that they pay the head tax for the number of tourists that should have come onshore.
“The issue was the ship wasn’t making all the calls and the people on ground weren’t enough…The domino effect of that was stores weren’t making enough money, tour operators.”
According to him, based on Government’s calculation, the BVI was losing somewhere between $14-$20 million on the ground because of the situation, which he said is the reason why he put the budget on hold and prompted his visit to the trade fair in Miami to renegotiate the deals made with cruise lines.
The cruise line companies and others are now working with the local Tourist Board to provide training to hospitality and marine workers so as to bring them up to par with the standards by which they should operate.