Government is hoping the modern port facility that is to be developed in West End, Tortola will generate a major increase in non-cruise visitor arrivals in the territory.
Director of Planning at the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA), Neil Smith, made that target known on Tuesday during a public meeting about preliminary plans for the port.
“In 2016 at West End, there were 123,000 non-cruise ship arrivals entering that port or 29 per cent of the total passenger arrivals [in the territory],” Smith said.
He further said those passengers accounted for $134.7 million or a little more than 10 percent in the territory’s economy.
“You can see how important West End was so we are looking to design a facility that allows for a 62 per cent increase in those arrivals,” he added.
The RDA’s Planning Director said, once completed, the facility should have the capacity to process at least 200 passengers per hour, have segregation between international and domestic passengers, have the ability to
Smith said the new port facility is likely to be a multi-level building.
“A lot of this is dependent on what the people want,” he explained.
Donor or loan to fund project
In the meantime, Representative of the First District where the new port will be located, Premier Andrew Fahie, said a donor is already showing interest in partnering with government to fund up to 50 percent of the total cost of the development.
He said that was one of two options to finance the project. The other option would be to seek a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
“I would prefer the first option,” Premier Fahie said while noting that he has ‘nothing against the CDB’.
“It’s just that the loan will take a little longer,” he explained
Preliminary designs for the new facility was presented to residents during Tuesday’s meeting. The public was then invited to give feedback. This feedback is now to be incorporated in subsequent drafts of the design.
What the people want
Suggestions from residents included creating separate ports for international arrivals and domestic arrivals .
There were other suggestions such as making the facility a three-story building to facilitate visitor arrivals on the ground floor, departures on another floor, and administrative operations on the other.
Automated Teller Machines (ATM) machines, sizeable staff, having a VIP lounge, and powering the building with renewable energy were other suggestions given.
Officials are yet to give cost projections or a timeframe for completion of the project
Port operations at West End have been halted since the old port facility received significant damage during the 2017 disasters.
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