It’s one of the top ten millionaires’ paradise islands, where the rich and famous go to get away from it all, but tourism officials in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) say visitors from the Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean should not be turned off by that designation.
In fact, Director of Tourism in the BVI Sharon Flax-Brutus said a recent initiative by regional airline LIAT fits into their strategy to attract visitors from Barbados.
“LIAT just graced us with non-stop service Barbados-Tortola; so that operates three days weekly – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – and it’s about a two-hour flight,” she told Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of the annual Caribbean Tourism Organization State of the Industry Conference (CTO/SOTIC), which officially opened at the Hilton Barbados Wednesday evening.
LIAT inaugurated the non-stop service between its hub in Barbados and Beef Island, Tortola onJune 1.
“LIAT has told us that it’s doing wonderfully so we’re happy, they’re happy that it’s working and it gives us another gateway as well, because it helps the UK visitors to connect on Virgin [Atlantic],” Flax-Brutus said.
“We’ve always been trying to work with LIAT in terms of getting additional flights to the British Virgin Islands (so) we’re just very happy that they listened to us. They’re also providing service for us from Tortola into San Juan and they’ve advised us that their load factor on that particular flight is quite good.”
The BVI tourism official stressed the importance of regional tourism.
“I think that a lot of times we look towards the US, Canadian and UK markets and there is great value for vacationing in the Caribbean. So we are looking at doing more work with regional tourism,” she said.
“We see quite a bit of traffic from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. There is quite a large Diaspora population in the BVI from the Dominican Republic as well as St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Kitts.
“There’s also quite a large Guyanese population in the BVI and in fact, at one point, I know LIAT was looking at that type of service to connect Guyana to the British Virgin Islands more seamlessly, so we’re looking forward to working with LIAT to get more visitors and to connect the Caribbean a little better,” Flax-Brutus added.
In terms of what the BVI has to offer the Barbadian visitor, she said: “I think it’s a different type of experience in terms of us having 60 different islands. Each island has its own unique attributes and it’s an ideal island hopping destination.”