Rising like the phoenix from the ashes describes the BVI’s strength after being devastated in 2017 by Hurricane Irma, the longest-lived category 5 hurricane in recorded history. This week’s BVI360° report looks at Resilient BVI: Hurricane Irma Five Years On.
No one could have anticipated that five years ago today, on September 6, 2017, the unprecedented disaster, Hurricane Irma, would have demolished decades of development in a day. After sustaining torrential flooding in August, and more rain after Hurricane Irma led to another disastrous impact of Hurricane Maria on September 20, 2017. These events caused an estimated $3.6 billion in damages, including four deaths, more than 600 homes destroyed, 85 per cent of buildings damaged, and a decline in the GDP by 2.7 per cent. In some areas, full electricity took up to six months to be fully restored, causing 11 per cent of the population to leave the Territory.
However, this was no match for the determination of the people who worked tirelessly to clean-up and restore the territory. It was this fast action that allowed for the financial services industry, to have little to no interruptions.
The Financial Services Commission enacted the Financial Services (Continuity of Business) Act, that allowed licenses to temporarily relocate and ensured the ongoing functioning of the international financial centre. This Act permitted Corporate Service Providers to use either on-island or international networks almost immediately, which led to an increase of company incorporations by 15 per cent in the remaining months of 2017 and in 2018, outperforming the same period in 2016.
Even now, after five years, rebuilding efforts continue. Still, the BVI remains agile as a leading jurisdiction in financial services through its commitment to outperform year after year and adapt to the ever-changing global events that allow it to stay resilient.
Reminders of the horrific events of September 2017 remain today, and there is still work to be done. The BVI in 2022 is completely unrecognisable from the devastating pictures that were beamed around the globe in the weeks after Hurricane Irma. The strength, determination and recovery shown by the territory is quite incredible, even more so given that it has taken place with limited outside support.
The BVI360° report outlines, “Islanders’ remarkable resilience to rebuild so quickly after a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane is indicative of a jurisdiction which consistently punches above its weight. It shows an ability to rebound from the toughest of challenges, and whether it is a natural disaster or worldwide pandemic, the BVI will always remain agile and resilient.”
BVI Finance launched the BVI360° series to showcase the full picture of the BVI’s financial services industry, bringing to the fore the expertise, talent, and evolution of the BVI as a resilient and innovative financial centre and debunking some of the myths about the jurisdiction.
BVI Finance commissioned the BVI360° series from the UK-based Pragmatic Advisory, an independent strategy and economics research consultancy firm based in the UK.
Earlier BVI360° reports are available here.