The British Virgin Islands (BVI) has seen an incredible uptick in cruise passengers since they carried out a $35 million Cruise Pier Expansion Project and broke ground on the accompanying Tortola Pier Park. In fact, numbers have reached a record high as they celebrate a significant 32,133 passengers this October — a figure that trumps the 4,098 and 5,465 guests in hosted in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
“The vast increase in our October 2015 arrivals speaks directly to the benefits derived from our enhanced cruise pier and upland development,” said managing director at the BVI Ports Authority, Claude Skelton-Cline. “The cruise tourism industry is growing rapidly and I am proud to say that our are more than equipped to meet the growing demand of the industry. We look forward to a fantastic cruise season as we continue to welcome an increased number of ships to our shores and will continue to work closely with our partner cruise lines to ensure continued sustainable growth.”
The $35 million project sought to expand the port to 1,039 ft. and widen it to 60 ft. in width. It is now able to accommodate two ships of 180,000 gross tonnage. This has allowed the pier to welcome new ships with higher passenger capacity. As the port gains momentum, what is shaping up to be their best cruise tourism season ever, will continue to grow next year, especially with the opening of Tortola Pier Park, expected to officially open on December 22nd.
The facility will open to both cruise passengers and the local community. Tortola Pier Park will have retail stores, office and commercial space, conference rooms, indoor and outdoor event areas, and of course, dining and entertainment venues. Featuring green spaces, the park will offer WiFi throughout and advertising spaces for local businesses.
With the onslaught of new cruise passengers, the port developed a 20-ft boardwalk to handle foot traffic as well as an excursion dock facility, as excursion participation has increased dramatically. With an almost 600% increase in guests in over a year, participation in these outings will continue to flourish. This increase in the number of guests will certainly increase the number of excursions being offered here and should create new opportunities for excursion operators.