Montserrat rises from beneath its ashes

Mar 23, 2014


Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory of the UK situated in the Lesser Nether Antilles. It borders in the far North of the Leeward Islands, in the Eastern Caribbean, 43 kilometers southwest of Antigua and 70 kilometers to the northwest of Guadalupe. It has a surface area of 102 km2.

It was christened with the name of Montserrat in 1493 by Christopher Columbus in honor of a mountain of the same name. The island’s geological origins is a result of volcanic underwater activity resulting in the eruption of Soufriere Hills in the southern Caribbean. Its lava gradually shaped a huge mountain on the ocean’s surface, to become what is nowadays the island of Montserrat.

Seismic activity intensified in 1995 causing the volcano to erupt frenetically, which led to its capital city of Plymouth to become buried under its ashes. A thick layer of 40 feet of rubble entombed beneath the volcanic ashes along the airport and main dock rendered the island’s southern part uninhabited, and becoming to be known as the Pompeii of the Caribbean.

Nowadays, Montserrat regards itself as an attractive tourist destination for its spectacular views, ineffable natural beauty, port and new capital.

As Invest Montserrat CEO Ivan Browne announced, a joint effort is underway with the British Government to manage the island’s development and promotion, proposing the Little Bay and Carr’s Bay, as investment alternatives for the international private sector. Also, sustainable development opportunities are open for local investors, as improved access to available funding, and training and consultancy services for entrepreneurs and investors.
These two ventures seek to differentiate its tourist offer, demonstrating the value of its privileged geographic location, as the available human capital and industrial and logistics potential.
The projects will include the development of new hotels, marinas and several government buildings at a cost of approximately US$ 300 million, and scheduled to be concluded by the year 2020.

“It is really impressive, I must say, how a native…cannot really understand the contrast. One side of the island is lush and green, whilst the other is gray – although lately we’ve seen patches of grass and trees springing back to life.”, says Rosetta West, Development Officer of the Montserrat Tourism Board.

Hotel facilities are limited on the island. Nevertheless, according to data provided by the government, tourism infrastructure is showing signs of important growth. During the years 1994 and 1995, the number of average tourists was around 33,000 per year; it has grown to 70,000 tourists.

In 2005, Montserrat opened an airport at a cost of US$ 18.5 million to replace the one that was demolished. This has been the impetus of other vital initiatives for the island’s continued growth.
Montserrat presents itself, beyond a destination yielding a monetary return, as an opportunity to be part of the reconstruction of an entire territory.

The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, as many have come to know it, puts a third of its territory at the disposal of travelers searching for a vacation spot and giving a vote of confidence to the destination, which has become attractive for business and investments.

Discover more about Montserrat by visiting Visit Montserrat.

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