Virgin Holidays has unveiled plans to invest £2 million to build a Richard Branson training centre for Caribbean entrepreneurs as part of the company’s drive to strengthen the region’s travel and tourism economy.
The announcement was made at Virgin Holidays-hosted Caribbean Marketplace 2011 which is taking place at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Jamaica.
Amanda Wills, managing director of Virgin Holidays, said the Branson Entrepreneurship Training Centre was part of Virgin’s belief every new business was a potential “force for good”.
Virgin hopes the centre will illustrate how the travel sector – and other industries – can contribute positively to the communities and countries in which they operate.
The Centre also shows Virgin’s commitment to the long term sustainability of one of its most important destinations, and its support for the Caribbean’s primary industry – tourism.
Andrew Shelton, marketing director for the British company, said training models developed in South Africa and elsewhere would be adapted to merge with models from the Caribbean.
To increase the size and scope of the centre, Virgin is welcoming other investors in the project to leverage the £200,000 donated annually over the next ten years by the company.
The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship will be based in Montego Bay with a number of smaller virtual satellite ‘chapter’ centres planned throughout the Caribbean.
There is more information on the centre here.
Virgin Holidays has been recognised by the World Travel Awards as the Caribbean’s Leading Tour Operator
Virgin Holidays – which was 25-years-old last year – catered for nearly half a million passengers in 2010, sending holidaymakers across the globe to destinations as diverse as Boston and Borneo.
Last year the company – which incorporates Travel City Direct and Bales Worldwide - recorded record operational profits of £22.5 million on the back of a three three per cent overall increase in sales.
Virgin Holidays has also offered its support to Jamaican prime minister Bruce Golding, who called for a review of British air passenger duty in his address to Caribbean Market Place delegates earlier.
Outside of the obvious cost to the customer, Virgin fears there will also be a negative impact on destinations in the Caribbean region.
With fewer holidaymakers visiting, jobs dependent on the tourism industry will be lost and the long term viability of a destination could be threatened.
The brand recently launched its season sale in dramatic fashion in Trafalgar Square.