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Welcoming double cruise ship tourism to the BVI

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A New Venture for Tourism – Tortola’s Cruise Ship Pier and Park

Photography courtesy of the Ports Authority

The British Virgin Islands is a renowned paradise for the aesthetically pleasing beaches, prime sailing conditions, mountainous terrain, tropical vegetation, and friendly Caribbean culture.

Year after year, we attract a recurring clientele of visitors and homeowners who relish their time spent in villas, sailing the islands on yachts, or enjoying the deluxe accommodations we have to offer.

Although we have attracted a healthy number of day tourists from cruise ships since 1994, this year with the opening of the new cruise ship pier, we can expect to welcome almost double the amount of day guests to experience our beautiful home.

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In October 2013, The Government of the Virgin Islands raised the idea and began negotiations of an extended pier to accommodate larger vessels and offer cruise ship tourism 52 weeks a year, compared to the 26 weeks cruise tourism season offered in previous years.

Berthing agreements for the pier with the Norwegian and Disney Cruise lines were signed in January 2014, with the ground breaking occurring in May, and construction in August.

 The original cruise pier, commissioned on November 16, 1994 was 1,015ft in length and could accommodate boats with up to 100,000 gross tonnage; the expansion has extended the length to 1,312ft and can cater to ships with 180,000 growth tonnage.

According to statistics conducted by the BVI Tourist Board, we received 378,083 cruise passengers during the 2014-2015 high season.

With the pier’s expansion, Meslyn Allan, Leasing and Marketing Manager of the Tortola Pier Park Ltd, says that the projected cruise passenger arrivals for the next three years will double, estimating 550,000 passengers in 2015, 775,000 in 2016, and 805,000 in 2017. 

“All islands in the BVI are benefiting from the cruise tourism and will benefit even more as we continue to develop and enhance our cruise offerings. These benefits will be received via water tours and day trips to the sister islands,” explained Meslyn.

In addition to a physical expansion of the pier, the site will also feature ‘The Tortola Pier Park’, a welcome centre including shops, restaurants, amenities, and services for visitors and residents of the BVI.

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For the 2015-2016 high tourist season, the tenant mix includes a range of stores selling clothing and accessories, jewellery and electronics, as well as a variety of restaurants and bars and speciality stores. Medical and banking services will also be available at this new central location.

Tortola Pier Park intends to preserve the culture of the BVI by ensuring it is prominent in everything they do including their brand, retail experiences, entertainment, and cuisine. Local residents can rest assured that the traffic from cruise ship passengers will be controlled to minimise the overall impact to the Territory, but the Ports Authority remains mindful that the growth of the Pier Park is in line with the growth of the country.

Positive changes will be seen for the community, as the development will result in new business opportunities, creation of additional jobs, and increased revenue for the tourism sector.

“We are elated about the new cruise pier development which has garnered much excitement and anticipation both locally and internationally. With 50 of the 54 retail stores in the Pier Park being locally owned, the shopping options offered provides a unique shopping experience for both visitors and locals alike and will assist in revolutionising the shopping perception in the BVI,” said Meslyn.

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Lauren Charley

Lauren Charley

Writer at aLookingGlass
Lauren graduated with an Honours B.A. in Media Studies from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. She has worked as a feature magazine writer, where many of her stories pertained to events, people, activities, and places in popular tourist destinations.

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