Last updated: 05:00 PM ET, Tue September 13 2016

British Virgin Islands To Establish First Direct Flights From The US

Airlines & Airports | Brian Major | September 13, 2016

British Virgin Islands To Establish First Direct Flights From The US

PHOTO: Sharon Flax-Brutus, the British Virgin Islands director of tourism. (Photo by Brian Major).

The British Virgin Islands government is partnering with a small Caribbean carrier, British Virgin Islands Airways, to launch the first non-stop service to the Caribbean country from the United States said Sharon Flax-Brutus, the country’s director of tourism.

The new flights will depart three times weekly from Miami International Airport beginning this fall, said Flax-Brutus during a media briefing Tuesday at the Caribbean Tourism Organization State of the Industry conference in Barbados. There are currently no direct flights to the destination from the United States.

Flax-Brutus did not provide an exact date for the launch of the new flights but said the new service will utilize the airline’s 86-passenger Avro RJ aircraft.  

“I believe the new flights will have a significant impact on our tourism arrivals,” said Flax-Brutus, adding that she could see it, "leveling the playing field for us” in comparison with other Caribbean destinations.

“Previously we depended on St. Thomas, St. Maarten and San Juan as gateways to travel to the British Virgin Islands. We should have our own gateways. There is a lot of demand for increased air service on the leisure side” in the British Virgin Islands, she continued, adding that the new service will create “a more economical, faster way to travel to the British Virgin Islands.”

Flax-Brutus said the British Virgin Islands officials expect the country to record its first year of one million visitor arrivals across the country’s land-based, cruise ship and day-tripper segments this year, Flax-Brutus said. She said, “increasing competition and increasing Caribbean tourism” had prompted the government to pursue initiatives including the establishment of direct flights and renovate public and tourism infrastructure.

“We are making enhancements to our historic attractions and tourist facilities,” she said. “Let’s face it, every Caribbean destination is selling sun, sand and sea. We want to make sure visitors have a positive, enjoyable experience in the British Virgin Islands.”

The country has recorded 239,648 land-based visitor arrivals in the first six months of 2016, a 3.4 percent increase over 2015. The country also hosted 411,211 cruise ship visitors in the first six months of this year, a whopping 48.4 percent increase over 2015, an increase largely tied to the country’s launch of a new cruise ship pier.

“We have seen a significant increase in cruise arrivals to the territory since opening the new extended cruise ship pier and Tortola Pier Park in 2015,” Flax-Brutus said earlier this year.

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