Director of Tourism Sharon Flax-Brutus shares state of the territory seven months after storms
Seven months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the beautiful British Virgin Islands, the territory’s attractions, accommodations and activities continue to rebound. The tourism industry and team here at the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board have worked extremely hard to revitalize the BVI’s tourism product — the lifeblood of our islands. We are fortunate to have the support of our Government, which remains steadfast in its commitment to BVI tourism. Now more than ever, it is critical that we encourage visitors to come experience the BVI they know and love.
Over the last few months, our tourism season has come alive with vibrant events, property reopenings and new local initiatives, symbolic of a BVI renaissance. And as of April 10, the U.S. Department of State has updated its BVI travel advisory to Level 1 (exercise normal precaution), another indication of the territory’s return to normalcy.
The BVITB is pleased to provide a comprehensive update on accommodations, local businesses and upcoming events around the territory as we emphasize that the destination is indeed open for business.
In terms of landside accommodations, some of the BVI’s premier properties are welcoming guests once again, including Oil Nut Bay on Virgin Gorda, and Cooper Island Beach Club. On the island of Anegada, 10 of 11 hotels are operational, including Anegada Beach Club and Anegada Reef Hotel, among others. There are currently 552 total hotel rooms (about 16%) available for bookings throughout the BVI.
The remainder of our private island resorts are working fast and furious to restore their cherished luxury experiences. Guana Island Resort will reopen in July, as will Scrub Island Resort & Spa. Necker Island will have a partial reopening in the fall, while Rosewood Little Dix Bay and Bitter End Yacht Club — among the hardest hit resorts — are expected to reopen in late 2019.
Of course, the wonderful thing about the BVI’s tourism product is that we offer both land and sea accommodations. After the storms, we immediately identified the yachting sector as the first to rebound. The yacht charters have made a strong recovery, and as it stands now, the territory has 1,860 charter boat berths/cabins available. This includes premier charter companies such as The Moorings, Marine Max, Sunsail and Horizon.
Additionally, a total of 36 cruise ship calls have been made at the Tortola Pier Park since December, another encouraging means to bring visitors to the destination. This includes cruise lines such as Columbia and Silver Seas, while larger ships such as Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line will resume cruising to the BVI in the fall.
Getting to the BVI has never been easier. InterCaribbean Airways has expanded service between San Juan and Tortola, adding another convenient connection option for travelers.
When visitors land on our spectacular shorelines, there are a number of attractions that are open for them to explore at their leisure, like the iconic Baths on Virgin Gorda. Our exotic dive sites are open as well, so guests can enjoy underwater adventure and marine life at the BVI Art Reef and Wreck of the RMS Rhone. BVITB is also working in conjunction with the National Parks Trust to revive our parks (Sage Mountain, Mount Healthy, and others) and reopen them for locals and visitors alike. Local businesses around the islands are determined to provide the level of service and fun that patrons have come to expect. Legendary beach bars like Foxy’s Tamarind Bar and Soggy Dollar Bar have reopened on Jost Van Dyke over the past few months. Additionally, museums such as Sugar Works and the Old Government House will return this fall.
Most recently, the BVI hosted the 47th BVI Spring Regatta in March. Sailors from around the world convened on our shores and celebrated another successful week of competition and island spirit.
We are confident that with the help of our yachting sector and the reopening of land accommodations over the next several months, we will continue sailing towards the full rebuilding of our beloved BVI. Looking ahead, we’re excited to share a great lineup of events and festivals that will attract visitors as we move into the summer months.
- Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta on Jost Van Dyke (April 21-22)
- Lowell Wheatley Anegada Pursuit Race at Anegada Reef Hotel (April 28)
- BVI Dinghy Championships at Nanny Cay Hotel and Marina (May 19-21)
- Second Annual BVI Jazz & Style Festival (May 25-27)
- Leverick Bay Poker Run (May 27)
- BVI Summer Sizzle (July 25-30)
- BVI Emancipation Festival (July 27-August 10)
Finally, with an eye on preservation, our team has just unveiled its Seeds of Love initiative, a project that aims to replant the islands’ indigenous trees and vegetation. Environmental protection is vital to the future of our unspoiled landscapes. Donations can be made through Pledgeling, and the funds will be used for gorgeous trees such as coconut palms, white cedars, and mangroves. The seeds will then be planted by BVI residents, visitors and local organizations. The Tourist Board is also collaborating on voluntourism opportunities for those travelers who want to give back during their visits.
BVITB will launch a new multi-channel ad campaign next month to showcase the breadth of our rebuilding efforts, and highlight the abundant natural beauty that remains at tourists’ fingertips. Plus, a special summer promotion is just around the corner to encourage eager vacation planners to make their return to the BVI.
For real-time updates, visit www.bvitourism.com/bvistrong where you can find the latest information about attractions, restaurants and property reopenings on each island. As our treasured islands continue on the road to full recovery, we must always remember that we are ONE BVI. We are stronger together.