Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool is optimistic about the cruiseliners sector. He announced that half a million passengers are expected in this coming season. Hon. Vanterpool during the NDP Drive Time Radio Programme that was aired on 4 September provided an update on the Tortola Pier Park/Cruise Tourism sector.
The Minister tackled the rumor surrounding the project stating that no money was siphoned from the venture, he also vouched for the manner the Ports Authority carried out the works: “I can honestly and confidently account to you, that not one penny of your funds has been taken by myself or any other Minister of Government, despite the various rumours that have so loosely been spread, without any proof.”
“I also wish to state that the BVI Ports Authority, to the best of my knowledge, has carried out this project in an honest and expeditious manner, with the Board’s consent all the way. I thank the Port for a good job and look forward to the benefits to the Territory of the Virgin Islands. Of course, some lessons were learnt, as should always be, to be utilized in future projects. But I am pleased, as Minister, to say to you as a people, that you have received value for money with this project,” he announced.
The Communications and Works Minister touted that the Tortola Pier Park was value for money. “If you want to talk about value for money, Ladies and Gentlemen, our new cruise pier is generating over $100 million a year, by the time we get to 2020, to our Gross Domestic Product. Over 10 years, this will amount to $1 billion. I am proud of that.”
He noted that the TPP is now part of the attraction of Road Town: “Tortola Pier Park has added to the beautiful aesthetics of The Capital City of Road Town and continues to attract more local persons to do business there and patronize and enjoy the amenities of the park,” he noted.
Money Well Spent
Government continues to face criticism for the cost overrun that came with the completion of the project. However, Hon. Vanterpool announced that embarking on the project was a good idea for the government and he noted that payback is in the future.
“…the expansion of the cruise pier and the landside development, was a wise decision and a major investment that will pay back for itself in a relatively short period of time. In fact, the expense of approximately $85 million will be repaid in just under 10 years, including the payment of interests,” he said.
Last week after being absent from the Territory for a long time, Disney cruiselines returned to the BVI. Now, Hon. Vanterpool stated that government is expecting large numbers of cruise visitors.
“Following our reopening, we are expecting in excess of 550,000 cruise passengers in this coming season, based on the bookings we have already received. And we expect more, as success will follow success in this cruise ship business,” Hon. Vanterpool stated.
The Minister also tackled the question of the cost of the project. In answering some the common, and controversial questions Hon. Vanterpool said: “In summary, the question is: Could this new cruise pier and Tortola Pier Park development cost $50 million? The answer is no!”
“Another question is: Why didn’t the BVI Ports Authority prepare its own estimates? The answer is: Time was not on the side of the BVI Ports Authority to do this, as they already had contractual arrangements with Disney and Norwegian Cruise Lines to deliver this project by a specific deadline,” Hon. Vanterpool pointed out.
In stressing that the Tortola Pier Park was value for money, Hon. Vanterpool said: “A professional quantity evaluation estimate by BCQS, indicates that the $85 million spent on the project was good value for money.”
He also noted that the project was featured on the cover of UK based magazine International Cruise & Ferry Review and was also featured in the Cruise Industry News, Huffington Post, Cruise Insight and the FCCA’s official magazine Travel and Cruise, among others.
Additionally, Hon. Vanterpool said that the Tortola Pier Park has received The Port of the Year 2017 Award from Seatrade Global, based in Europe.