The chairman of the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board (BVITB), Myron Walwyn, has just contributed $150,000 to aid in the restoration of a sugar cane mill on the grounds of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) in Tortola. This is part of the region’s efforts to increase heritage tourism in the territories. The funds were donated to the Mill Restoration Project Committee headed by local artist Reuben Vanterpool. The volunteer community group comprises members of college, local architects, tradesmen, and residents all concerned with the preservation of the territories’ heritage. The British Virgin Islands have also seen renewed efforts in to mark important historical landmarks.
The project started in the mid 90s. Walwyn explained that “The Board is building on the enthusiasm made by the Honourable Premier to ensure the present and next generations of BVIslanders understand the evolution of the Territory and the significant impact of its past industries on our present stature.” It is anticipated that the mill will be fully restored by the second quarter of 2010. Upon its completion, visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the history, the processes that take place in a sugar cane mill, as well as products of sugar cane. In his speech, the chairman tried to balance the significance of heritage tourism as an investment for the economic future of the islands with the importance of promoting the preservation of regional history for the people of the British Virgin Islands.
In explaining the founding of the Mill Restoration Committee, Vanterpool said the project started with a common interest in seeing the mill restored for the sake of younger generations, stating that “We have no evidence to show younger generations the significance the sugar cane industry played in the Territory’s economy. [. . .] we cannot let our history be forgotten. It is the committee’s hope that this project will jump start interest in our historical sites and their preservation.”
For full articles, see http://www.bviplatinum.com/news.php?section=article&source=1253544598 and http://www.bvinews.com/tourism/7641.html
Photo of sugar mill ruins in Brewer’s Bay, Tortola, from http://www.cdislands.com/html/photos/photos_bvi6.htm