BVI News


Skelton wants ports improved; fears visitor decline

Minister of Health and Social Development Ronnie Skelton

Relatively poor service at the territory’s seaports is what may start causing fewer people to visit the British Virgin Islands – not the increases in cruise permit fees.

Minister of Health and Social Development Ronnie Skelton made that declaration in the House of Assembly yesterday while he contributed to a debate on the Cruise Permit (Amendment) Act.

The proposed amendments are for the fees to be increased up to $6 per person per day for boats based in the BVI, and up to $16 for boats based outside.

“These fees for visitors is not something that a visitor will not come to the BVI because of this. Why visitors will not come to the BVI is because if we don’t improve the level of service that we give to visitors – the clearance at the dock, the Customs, Immigration, [and] the facilities,” he said.

Skelton further told the House that he recently entered the territory through one of the seaports, and he was not pleased with the service offered to more than 200 people who had arrived on three vessels.

He said the Customs and Immigration officers complained to him that they need – among other things – better facilities.

“We had difficulties [processing the passengers]. The Immigration complaining; Customs complaining to me. They need facilities; somebody needs to look at this and find some way of dealing with visitors coming to our country because that is a distraction – not the $6 or the $16 [cruise permit fees]… Processing people through the ports, we can do better, and we need to do better,” Skelton further told his colleagues in the legislature.

It is not the first time that he is raising concern about the issue. In March this year, the minister proposed that immigration officers be placed on boats as a temporary measure until the ports are improved.

“We need our ports to be more visitor friendly,” he emphasized in March.

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  1. I wonder ... says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 3

    The ports are awful, but the system at the airport where the passengers on a later flight have to stand outside until the first flight has cleared through immigration is positively 3rd world. It is also inexcusable for the immigration officers not to be sitting at their desks when the passengers arrive.

    However, the problem at the ports is not as serious as we think because most tourists know that they are coming to third world facilities before they get here.

    The ever increasing fees that the BVI Government tried to charge to our visitors is the problem. Online chat rooms are starting to discuss the fact that the BVI Government thinks that tourists are a bottomless pit of money, and that they will just hand over whatever is asked for.

    If the politicians ever asked people running charter companies, hotels, villas etc they would hear the truth. Instead they just rant on without any factual basis in the hope that it makes them popular with the electorate.

    Sooner or later we will get to the tipping point, and there will be a mass boycott of the BVI tourism market. Look what happened in Anguilla (and the Government there is actually more business friendly than the BVI) – even the low life administrators at LIAT said enough was enough.

    Attitudes have to change dramatically here.

    We need to dump the level of self entitlement and accept that all our people need to work hard for a living – it is very tough and not fair because so many of us do work hard but the world’s view of the BVI is influenced by (i) the poor levels of service and (ii) politicians and social commentators (often with made up names) complaining that the local population is discriminated against.

    The constant references to slavery are sickening – do we not really understand what an awful thing slavery was, and how nothing happening now resembles it? The response to anybody that mentions slavery should be to instantly dismiss them and laugh at their ignorance.

    • Really! says:

      Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 20

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

      • HMPH (aka Socal Comantar) says:

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

        Your comment is so poorly written that it is difficult to know whether you agree that comparing today to the days of slavery is ridiculous or whether you think that the comparison is fair.

        If you know anything about slavery, you will not dishonor the memory of our ancestors who were so unfortunate to have to live as slaves by comparing today to those terrible days.

        • Thoughtful Sailor says:

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

          Actually, it was very well written. Read it again, HMPH, and note that he or she does respect the territory’s history and the misery of slavery. Suggest you put on your reading glasses and thinking cap when you reply.

        • John says:

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

          You have just reflected what the original writer is saying. I agree with the first writer. this is my third visit to the BVI and it will be my last. The service is horrible

    • @ I wonder says:

      Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

      • Oh dear says:

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

        Which BVI landers built the yachting industry – presumably the same ones that built the finance industry!

        • @Oh dear says:

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

          Geese, wallace, Jeb ,Harriet Skelton, Rosie Flax and Many more.

    • Trainv Day says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      And let’s please include hospitality training.

  2. LUCIE says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

    MR Skelton I agree with you concerning the port of entry some of these immigration officers are very rude even to the older people who are BVI. I have notice how they treat a young lady who born here to BVI parents the young lady keep her cool I turn to her and say you should have walk out and leave them call the police she turn to me and say it show how they show off when they are not train plus they was not train at home. She went on to say she just graduate from NYU and I am not going to let down myself nor NYU.

  3. WTF says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

    All the ports need to be improved before raising fees. The Terrance Lettsome Airport is pathetic compared to some in our neighboring islands.

  4. Freedom!! says:

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

    +++ I Wonder++++

    Do write an article to the Jewish community extolling to them “what an awful thing the HOLOCAUST was, and how nothing happening now resembles it,” so must stop writing and talking about it.

    Rest assured they and every cognizant historian, sociologist, humanist, historical psychologist and others will laugh at this exposed “ignorance.”

    Ask the American Indian, the thousands of EU people that perished in EU after world war two was ended, and hundreds of thousands of people and cultures that were deliberately extinguished, over the barbarick centuries, due to racism, the identical malfunctioning of human thought that brought on slavery,to stop speaking of; writing of; documenting of and educating their children of.

    Dearest you, slavery was a devastating period for the African race.A period that and will never be forgotten, lest history repeats itself again.

    Lastly, educate us weekly with an expose on the vibrant pass of the African before contact with EU and the west, the great African civilizations; the first civilized race on the planet; the great inventions that are being claimed today by those who did not invent them ,but stole them from us.

    Do that educating for your people that they may gain a greater perspective of how devastating the epoch of slavery was and how it, that institution is still affecting and directly creating the life they are living today and will for centuries to come.

    Share the great history of our glorious past, then we will have no need to mention the horrible one. Would we?

    Finally, do read Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.

    • Oh dear says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3


      Honestly your comment displays extraordinary stupidity. Nobody is saying that the horrors of slavery should not be talked about or taught to our children.

      The problem is the comparison with circumstances now in the BVI and slavery – there is no comparison and those that say that there is are ignorant and don’t understand what slavery really was. You seem to fall into that later category.

  5. ndp heckler says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

    We spent millions on the cruise pier for tourists who only come here for 4 months out of a year and none at the ferry ports where tourist come daily. That is the NDP no darn priority

  6. Hear This says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    Our Tourism here is a BIG JOKE. Immigration act like they doing you a favor when they sit at their desk.

    Yes each Country or Island have a right to protect their borders but gosh just smile and welcome the visitors and welcome the residents back home. I travel all over the world and Im dismayed because we lacking and we lacking bad.

    There are a number of Greattttttttttt places to vacation that is top notch. Try visit Jamaica, Punta Cana,Dominican Republic, Panama, Aruba, Cancun and a lot of other great destination and take notes.The service is impeccable. Hon Skelton should be afraid yes.

  7. Expat says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    How is it that when you arrive at Road Town ferry terminal there are three lines (visitor, resident and citizen); and there are only two immigration officers and two customs officers working?

    That is why, after taking a one (1) hour ferry ride, it takes two (2) hours to clear immigration and customs. That is not a good formula for getting returning visitors.

    Solution: Spend some money on the sea ports.

  8. JYD says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    i feel the cruise pier should have a customs and immigration building for all persons entering or leaving the island to go St Thomas and for visitors to east the congestion at the ferry dock along with a police station there daily and leave the ferry dock for inter island movement and the marine Police and customs can use there as an office for day to day use.

  9. BVI says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    Hon Skelton you all talking about raising the cruising permit,yes I agreed as this has been long out dated and running since(1976) however the fees should be raise at least double. You speak of the ports the bad customer service by officers, have your government ever considered the condition of building may be the problem and these officers both customs and immigration haven’t even seen a raise of salary for how many years now.but yet they still try to do there job without any tools to work with.these two departments control the opening and closing of this Country and you should not take them lightly. Few months back we had a problem back when we had issues with the main food supplier Tropical shipping out at sea and supermarkets was empty.Think on what can happen if Both Customs and Immigration are not there to open the gates to the country.
    (1) No vessel or Aircraft can enter or leave just domestic only.
    (2) Health care will have an impact.
    (3) Financial sectors.
    (4) Tourism and etc

  10. Political Observer (PO) says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    The BVI had the resources, need and opportunity to develop and put in place a First World physical infrastructure. But proper planning, programming and budgeting were not effectively employed to make it happen, placing the quality of its infrastructure well behind that of some other regional countries. Its infrastructure from ports to roads to water to sewage to electricity to parking……….is challenging and lagging. The BVI squandered, perhaps, a once in a lifetime opportunity and is suffering the consequences of missed opportunities.

    Nevertheless, to compete with other regional countries for the tourist dollar, it needs a world class infrastructure, for without it will lose market share. Poor planning and execution is the BVI Achilles heel. And to address this weakness, it needs to develop, implement and sustain a master plan and national development plan. Nuff tark, done tark. It is time for action.

  11. Fed up says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    When all the tourists stop visiting the BVI, maybe then you will listen. The customer service here is atrocious. Bad attitudes and rude tone of voice runs rampant here. Between the expense of visiting here and the absolutely laughable customer service, expect a continued decline in tourism which will result in a huge loss of income for many businesses. What will you say then?!

  12. Freedom!! says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    @ +++Oh Dear, your comprehension skills and projected general world view are obviously skewed beyond reasonable rationality.

    You are not the first and will not be the last to display dislike for the Black intellectual.

    So, carry on.

  13. ???? says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    The decline is not because of the condition of the ports! Take a look at the condition of the island in general.

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