The government has said it will not sacrifice the safety of its people despite the reopening of the ports for the cruise ship season.
Speaking at yesterday’s ceremony for the return of cruising to the British Virgin Islands, Director of Tourism Clive McCoy said the priority of government is to ensure all residents and visitors remain safe during the busy cruise season.
“We are still in a fight to understand the mutating virus and how we navigate it to save lives and stay healthy while living life in the most fulfilling way,” the director said.
“We have listened to the advice of our cruise line partners and we will continue to work in partnership with them to preserve the full enjoyment of our visitors’ travel experience without sacrificing safety,” McCoy added.
The Tourism Director said this can be achieved through enforcing and adhering to the simple and practical health and safety protocols implemented by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
McCoy also said that, for a long time, it appeared the priority of staying safe and healthy were competing with the BVI’s role of being an exotic tourism destination. However, “research and technology and established best practices have enabled us to reach a place where we could find mutual benefit that would enable us to remain safe,” he stated.
Follow the protocols
While also delivering remarks at the ceremony, Premier and Tourism Minister Andrew Fahie said the government is ready for the docking of the cruise ships but everyone must follow the safety measures to protect themselves. The Premier used the opportunity to make fresh calls for persons to get vaccinated and add an extra level of protection against the virus.
He said nearly 51 percent of the population is vaccinated so far. And while he is pleased to have reached this percentage, Premier Fahie said he wants the figure to eventually rise to 90 percent of the population.
“While we are open for business, it’s not business as usual. Everyone should have their mask on at all times … Not only the visitors have to protect themselves but you here at the Pier Park, Craft Alive and the Taxi Operators,” he added.
School children must be protected
With regards to taxi operators, especially those who will transport school children, the Premier said they must ensure their buses are fully sanitised and if they do not, they will get in trouble with the law.
“You are going to transport school children and you have to bear in mind that what you do in terms of safety will also save their lives. It might very well be your child on the bus. So, treat every child like it’s your child,” Fahie said.
The Tourism Minister said this is just one of the few measures the government has in place to protect the residents and the visitors during the cruise season. He added that testing facilities have been established at the different ports of entry to have everything in order for the tourist season.
“We will go and visit them together with spot checks because each person working must understand that once you go and do your work in this COVID era faster than usual; the different organs of the economy will start to function,” Fahie said.
He also said his government will ensure that everything is operating smoothly on Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke and that people are following the necessary protocols on those sister islands.
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