Tuesday, March 17 – Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Hon. Omar W. Hodge has confirmed that the Brandywine Bay beach will be opened shortly to cater to cruise passengers.

The decision was made by the inter-agency committee which is charged with orchestrating the enhancement of the beach to better cater for the needs of visitors, particularly cruise passengers.

“The primary goal for promoting the use of this beach is to assist in alleviating the congestion problems currently experienced at areas such as Cane Garden Bay and Road Town,” Hon. Hodge said.

“The development of the beach would also provide an alternative to north shore beaches during periods when those beaches experience heavy sea swells,” Hon. Hodge further commented.

Plans for further beach development include the upgrading of existing restroom facilities to install a tertiary sewage treatment system that produces gray water suitable for irrigation of a designated green area; the installation of road signs to warn approaching motorists of the entrance to and exit from the beach; and the placement of traffic wardens near the beach entrance on days when ships are in port. 

Hon. Hodge also confirmed that another measure being sought to promote the effective management of the Brandywine Bay beach is to determine a carrying capacity which will allow for a set number of persons to be present on the beach at any given time. 

The Natural Resources Minister said, “this we hope is the precedent setting step in ensuring that we plan our tourism attractions whether man-made or natural based on environmental carrying capacities to ensure sustainability of the product being offered.” 

“Tour operators, taxi drivers and all tourism industry partners are urged to follow the capacity requirements in order to ensure their guests a safe and enjoyable experience at Brandywine Bay,” the Minister concluded.

The committee, headed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Mr. Clyde Lettsome, consists of representatives from the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association and key government agencies.
Mr. Lettsome indicated that “the committee took great care in preserving the bio-diversity of the bay when we established the swimming area for the visitors.  This was done in conjunction with and supervised by the Conservation and Fisheries Department.”

The Permanent Secretary further explained that, “the bay has a small reef on the outer edge and a dense sea-grass bed area which is host to many marine species and thus it was imperative to take measures to minimise the impact on the ecology of the bay.  It is also recognised that these marine habitats will be host to snorkelers and preserving the area was high on the agenda of the committee.”

According to the BVI Tourist Board’s Product Development Manager, Ms. Natasha Chalwell, “it is imperative that we balance our cruise ship and overnight guests and do our utmost in offering quality products and experiences for all visitors to the Territory.  We feel that Brandywine Bay will provide an excellent alternative for beach-goers and ease the demand on some of the other beaches on Tortola”.

The Brandywine Bay Development Project commenced in 2004 with the aim of providing an alternative beach site for the more than 500,000 cruise passengers who visit the Territory annually.