British Virgin Islands Signs Pact Aimed at Boosting Ship Calls

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The British Virgin Islands, home to the popular Caribbean cruise destinations of Tortola, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke, announced it has reached a strategic development agreement with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association.

The pact designates the BVI as a Presidential Partner of the trade group and follows a similar accord the group reached with the US Virgin Islands last month.

Efforts to Boost Cruise Calls in the British Virgin Islands

A new partnership agreement between the British Virgin Islands and the marketing trade group Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) will help guide the BVI.

The partnership aims to boost cruise calls, create guest experiences that will attract more cruise lines, and engage local companies with new revenue opportunities. The partnership was announced on March 24 by the FCCA, whose members represent more than 90% of the worldwide cruise capacity.

FCCA Chairman and Carnival Corporation Chairman Micky Arison said, “This new agreement shows the momentum that FCCA and destinations are having in working together to maximize cruise tourism’s benefits. The British Virgin Islands has been a long-standing partner of the industry, and I am thrilled that this agreement signifies the improvement of so many lives and livelihoods.”

Tortola, British Virgin islands
Photo Credit: Vriand / Shutterstock

As chairman of the Carnival Corporation, Arison leads the company’s nine cruise brands, many of which operate in the Caribbean and are association members.

Other goals of the BVI agreement include finding ways to convert cruise guests to land-based vacationers, increasing summer cruising to the destination, working in tandem with cruise agents and creating a destination service needs assessment that can pinpoint the BVI’s strengths as well as identify areas that need shoring up.

BVI Minister of Communication and Works Kye Rymer said, “We’re excited to expand our partnership with the FCCA as strategic development destination partners. This collaboration will amplify our cruise tourism reach, improve, and develop the services and products we offer for our cruise guests and generate more opportunities for the people of the Virgin Islands in this sector.”

The BVI previously joined the FCCA as a Presidential Partner after hurricanes Irma and Maria damaged the islands in 2017. In pre-pandemic years, the BVI had made advances in growing its cruise tourism industry.

During the 2017/2018 cruise year, the government reported 124,857 cruise passengers visited the BVI and spent a total of $9.8 million. After the cruise industry shutdown, the island government reopened to cruising in June 2021.

Tortola

The main cruise port in the BVI is in Road Town, Tortola, which can accommodate ships up to 180,000 gross tons, and has a welcome center with stores, restaurants and a park. The smaller islands routinely visited by cruise ships, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke, do not have docking facilities, requiring ships to tender guests ashore.

Cruise ships scheduled to call at Tortola in the next few weeks include Norwegian Cruise Line’s 4,266-guest Norwegian Escape and 4,000-guest Norwegian Encore, Celebrity Cruises’ 3,200-guest Celebrity Apex and Disney Cruise Line’s 4,000-guest Disney Fantasy.

US Virgin Islands is Also a Partner

The announcement of the FCCA partnership with the BVI follows by about a month a similar accord with the USVI. Its three islands, St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John, also are Presidential Partners with the group and have been so for the last decade. The USVI announcement said the islands are projecting a full cruise recovery in 2023.

USVI Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte said, “The USVI Department of Tourism is excited to resume our partnership with FCCA. Together we will continue to showcase the USVI to the prestigious audiences that the FCCA helps us reach, along with great opportunities for strategic meetings within the cruise industry.”

Founded in 1972, FCCA is a Florida-based non-profit association that works with governments, ports and private sector representatives to maximize cruise passenger, crew and cruise line spending.

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