BVI Chamber of Commerce
Chairman’s Remarks at the Launch of the BVI Yachting, Hotel & Tourism Association
Government officials, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
The privilege is mine today to witness the launch of the BVI Yachting, Hotel and Tourism Association from an idea to reality. People often hear me remark that businesses are the backbone of the economy because they provide the goods, services, jobs, tax revenue and corporate social responsibility that supports our daily lives. I would like to remind us that the business community is the most important stakeholder in the socioeconomic development of a country and the fact is, that without businesses the standard of life we know today would not exist. We especially came to appreciate this over the past six years through the trauma and economic upheaval of the 2017 hurricanes and the 2020 pandemic. Our business leaders are the unsung heroes that drove the economic recovery and helped us get back on our feet as quickly as we did. Please give them a round of applause for their enduring and courageous spirits!
Entreprenuership is in our DNA as Virgin Islanders and over fifty years ago, the BVICCHA was established through a merger of the BVI Chamber of Commerce and the BVI Hotel Association. Last year when I made the proposal of a HTA to the Board, I was convinced that we had an opportunity to ensure our business stakeholders were more effectively represented across industries.
I observed across the Caribbean region that the chambers of commerce and hotel associations were separate organizations that collaborated for the greater socioeconomic development of their countries. I proposed that it was time to split the Siamese twins and I am grateful they were open and supported the idea to the end.
I would like to pause here and thank wholeheartedly the working group that caught the vision and ran with it: Mr. Clyde Lettsome, Mrs. Sharon Flax-Brutus, Mr. Russell Harrigan, Mrs. Sally Reid, Mr. Andreas Pade and anyone else who may have been involved behind the scenes. Please give them a round of applause. When I first approached Clyde about the idea, he was almost immediately onboard and assembled his colleagues to explore the viability of the initiative and I was thrilled when it was received with open arms across the hospitality sector, including the yachting industry.
We at the BVICCHA look forward to partnering with our “twin” as we do with other industry organizations, to address mutual concerns like workforce development and exploring regional trade. This new alliance will create a louder voice of business for our economy that currently boasts a gross domestic product of over $1.5 billion dollars.
In the coming weeks, the chamber of commerce will be rebranded as we continue our mission to advocate for policy and legislation that provide a business-friendly environment, facilitate business training and education, and coordinate networking opportunities like the Buy BVI Trade Expo to educate and equip business owners in an ever-changing global economy.
On behalf of the BVICCHA Board and members, I offer congratulations to my colleague, Mrs. Sharon Flax-Brutus as the interim President on this first step in the journey of a 1,000 miles. It is demanding work, but it pays dividends when businesses get the help they need to succeed and thrive in a highly competitive landscape. I eagerly await the elevation of tourism businesses that will further enhance the Virgin Islands’ status as a hospitality industry leader, regionally and internationally. Let us toast to their future success! Cheers!
Shaina M. Smith-Archer
Chairman of the Board, BVICCHA