Some Visitors Chose Not To Leave During Irma

Sherine Williams, Journalist | November 13, 2017 4:29 am MST
Photo Credit: Javon Liburd/BVI Platinum News
Tourism Director, Sharon Flax-Brutus says a mandatory evacuation policy may have to be implemented in the BVI, despite the unwillingness of some visitors to leave when disasters threaten the Territory.

At a recent media session in Barbados, Flax-Brutus was told that some visitors reported being stranded in the Territory after Hurricane Irma. She was then asked how the BVI plans to address these concerns and assure future visitors that their safety is a key focus of the Territory.

In response, Flax-Brutus said the BVI Tourist Board and hoteliers did partner with ferry companies and charter yachts to transport some visitors to Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and other Caribbean islands. However, she said there were also some guests who chose not to leave.

"We in the BVI have looked at what to do with visitors when there is a hurricane, because we do have enough notification...Unfortunately for us sometimes our guests don't want to leave. We see that not only in the Caribbean, we see it other areas where there are disasters," Flax-Brutus explained.

She added that the BVI may have to adopt a policy of mandatory evacuation in the future, to protect visitors in case a severe disaster threatens the Territory.

"I come from a luxury hotel background, having worked with Rosewood Hotels for nearly 15 years...and Rosewood's verometer was, anything that was a category 3..., it was a mandatory evacuation. And I think sometimes we maybe will need to make those tough decisions in order to protect our guests and protect us as well," Flax-Brutus said.

She also told the session that BVI's tourism is open for business, although much of the usual offerings will be scaled down this season.

She said the BVI will be focusing on the things which originally brought popularity to the region, like the Territory's beaches and activities like sailing.
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