(Photo Credit: Provided)
The BVI Tourist Board (BVITB) which has received an increased budget allocation for the financial year 2020, has outstanding bills reaching some $500,000.00.
This was revealed by Mrs. Sharon Flax-Brutus, Director of the board when she appeared before the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) last month.
Flax-Brutus, who is currently on leave, was asked by Hon. Julian Fraser, Representative for the Third District to provide a ballpark figure as to how much is owed by the board. She stated that the BVITB is $400,000 to $500,000 in debt.
He then asked if that amount is manageable within the BVITB’s budget, and in response, Flax-Brutus said yes. She went on to state that because the subvention is sometimes late, they have a number of arrangements that allow them to stagger their payments so that they are manageable.
She further stated that they have good relationships within the industry and noted that sometimes they would have to let entities know that payment would be late.
The Director also expressed her gratitude for the BVITB’s increased budget allocation of $14,265,200.00.
She said that the largest subvention ever received from the Government was $15 million dollars which occurred prior to her joining the BVITB.
Not Enough $$ To Market On U.S TV
Hon. Fraser also enquired about why the BVITB does not advertise on US national television.
Flax-Brutus stated that with an average budget of $10 million, the BVITB has not been able to advertise on US national because it is quite expensive.
She further stated that the only time they had been able to have any national advertising of any sort was via their arrangement with Miami Open where they were able to have international advertising spots. She said that they have been working with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), who will be launching a programme this year that takes into account national advertising of the Caribbean.
Hon. Natalio Wheatley, Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture said that he thinks that his ministry will work well with the BVITB and noted that he is aware of the fact that the tourists who visit the BVI are not just interested in the environment, but want added value to their vacation.
He further stated that he would like to see some of the $15 million dollars allocated to the BVITB used within his ministry with regards to promoting culture. He said that he believes in diversifying the tourism product via initiatives such as sports tourism.
The Director indicated that the minister’s comments are well noted and that the BVITB is willing to support his Ministry. She said they have been looking into bringing various sporting events to the Territory but noted that the proper infrastructure needs to be put in place in order to support those plans.
Hon. Andrew Fahie, Premier and Minister of Finance commented that it is important for the funds allocated to be spent on the improvement of the BVI’s tourism industry.