TORTOLA, BVI -- The British Virgin Islands continues to show a strong interest in the sport fishing industry through participation in this year’s St Martin Billfish Tournament in which BVI fisherman Dr Hubert O’Neal competed.
For the second year in a row, the BVI Tourist Board attended the event. Boaters such as O’Neal, who placed second in the 2008 competition and third last year; and Donnell Flax of Big Ting, who placed second in 2009, have represented the territory from the beginning of the tournament.
“Sport fishing is one of the fastest growing and affordable luxury markets in tourism. If we take into consideration that the average sport fisherman spends over $1,200 on every three- to five-day fishing trip, plus the tripling multiplier effect, the potential impact on our economy is unmistakable,” said Rhodni Skelton, events marketing manager at the BVI Tourist Board. “A number of BVI fishermen have participated in the annual event since its inception in 1997, and through ongoing support the BVI Tourist Board is aiming to position the BVI to capture a greater share of this lucrative and perfectly harmonised market.”
The BVI Tourist Board also saw this tournament as an opportunity to promote the Lowell Wheatley Fishing Tournament that takes place in November and the Fisherman’s Jamboree held on Virgin Gorda during Easter Festival.
Over the years, there has been a growing interest in BVI sport fishing from Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean region at large, with participants like Yellow Whip of St Martin, which participates regularly. There has also been interest from as far north as Canada and as far south as Venezuela.
The BVI is ideal for sport fishing because it has one of the world’s most famous fishing grounds, locally known as the North Drop, an area that is home to some of the world’s largest tuna, wahoo, and billfish such as the blue and white marlin.