The BVI is aggressively strengthening its wedding niche market, and recent changes to the Marriage Legislation will soon be coupled with a further update that is geared at facilitating cruise ship weddings.
The announcement was made by His Excellency Governor John Duncan in his Speech from The Throne delivered in the House of Assembly on 10 November. The Queen’s Representative announced that in this session of the House improvements will be made to the <arriage Legislation to make the BVI more attractive to engaged couples.
His Excellency declared: “The Marriage Act will be updated with modern law to improve the overall and efficiency in registration and celebration of marriages in the Territory. In particular the amendment is geared to provide the right to the Registrar or any Marriage Officer to conduct marriages on board a ship within the Territorial waters of the Virgin Islands.”
In explaining how the change will boost the marriage sector, Governor Duncan said: “This change will facilitate new and additional marriage services to the cruise tourism sector and to facilitate greater diversification of the tourist product by further making the Territory more competitive and promoting it as a prime wedding destination.”
The Territory has been striving to strengthen the niche markets particular as it relates to marriages. However, the push has been a hard one with challenges such as airlift. In fact it was announced that there was a decrease in the number of marriages performed in the Territory last year, and the airlift situation was cited as a possible reason for the decline.
According to the 2013 annual report from the Civil Registry and Passport Office, that was laid on the table of the 11 September sitting of the House of Assembly, the Department recorded a reduction of marriages when compared to the previous year.
The report announced that during 2013 there were 242 marriages performed in Territory. It was stated that marriage officers performed 55 weddings inside churches and 38 outside at various locations in the Territory.
It was noted that there was a decrease of ten marriages when compared to the previous year. “In March, April, and May 2013, in particular, weddings decreased and we attributed this decrease to the departure of American Eagle’s operation from the Territory,” the report stated.
Last year as part of a push to assert the Territory as one of prime Caribbean marriage market there was an election of a new Board for the revamped BVI Bridal Association.
Registrar General, Benn during the launch to the media said that the Civil Registry is teaming up with the Tourist Board for the campaign to bring more weddings to the BVI; and to make the territory the wedding capital of the Caribbean. She announced that the whole campaign and the increase in the wedding market will call for collaboration between the Bridal Association, Tourist Board and Civil Registry.
The topic of gay marriage was raised at one meeting of local marriage stakeholders, but although not dismissed it was not acted upon either. Meanwhile other countries are making very lucrative business.