BVI Tourist Board Chairman Mr. Russell Harrigan commented on Gun Creek’s official declaration by saying that the port is a vital development for reinforcing the Territory’s tourism product, with benefits to both visitors as well as residents.
In an interview with the Department of Information and Public Relations, Mr. Harrigan said that North Sound is a major destination for both land and water based visitors to the British Virgin Islands and that the port will increase convenience and maximise leisure time while in the Territory.
He indicated that visitors sailing from St. Maarten and Antigua, the dominant sailing points east of the BVI, can now come straight to North Sound for clearance procedures as opposed to checking in at the other points of entry. “This means that visitors can begin their actual vacation earlier and almost immediately enjoy the Territory’s offerings,” said Mr. Harrigan.
The chairman, who is part of the committee to oversee Gun Creek’s landside development, also said that the port will promote the further development of the area, hence strengthening the North Sound community, adding “It enhances tourism because it moves the involvement of British Virgin Islanders and belongers to a new level, where traditionally their involvement has been as employees, but now there are business opportunities which would enable them to become employers. Residents now have the opportunity to establish businesses to satisfy the needs of visitors using the port.”
Mr. Harrigan’s remarks echo those of the Premier and Minister for Tourism Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, delivered at the ceremony to declare Gun Creek as a port of entry on Friday, May 18.
At the ceremony which took place at the Captain Owen G. Harrigan Visitor Centre, the Premier said the declaration represents a milestone in BVI tourism, saying, “Declaring Gun Creek as a port of entry is a catalyst for the development of a very important segment of our tourism industry. My Government is working diligently to improve and enhance the ambience and aesthetics of all the ports of entry throughout these British Virgin Islands.”
Honourable Smith told attendees it is necessary to involve the sister islands in tourism development, adding, “Government cannot do it alone. We all must move forward together and we must do what we can to make our islands attractive and marketable for ourselves and our visitors. Together, we are building a better British Virgin Islands. Together we are ensuring a sustainable economy. Together we are boosting our tourism product.”
Minister for Communications and Works Honourable Mark Vanterpool, Financial Secretary Mr. Neil Smith, Representative for the Ninth District Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal and Chief Operating Officer with the Bitter End Yacht Club Mrs. Sandra Grisham-Clothier also gave remarks at Friday’s ceremony.
The Captain Owen G. Harrigan Visitor Centre in Gun Creek will facilitate clearance procedures with officers from the Department of Immigration, Her Majesty’s Customs and the BVI Ports Authority. In addition, representatives from the BVI Tourist Board will also be present to greet visitors and provide information.
Gun Creek was officially designated a port of entry on March 1, 2012. Port development is an integral part of the Government of the Virgin Islands’ agenda to develop the Territory’s tourism product and infrastructure, which it recognises is critical to economic recovery and growth.
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