BVI News

Mixed reviews from charter industry on new gov’t policy

Some local charter operators have expressed mixed feelings about the new policy changes Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley announced for the yachting industry recently.

With the new policy — which becomes effective today, November 15 — the government will no longer require BVI trade licenses from charter operators who are not based in the BVI and will also not require work permits for crew members working on those vessels. Premier Wheatley also said it will take some time to fully develop and implement the proposed changes, but advised that there is an immediate need to make the adjustments.

Irvin Lennard of Island Boys Charter said he was disappointed at the newly announced policy and said charter operators don’t understand the decision since no one explained the changes to them nor the way things are expected to be done.

“We’re only hearing that trade licenses are lifted for the outside boats, but we local boats still have to pay trade licenses. I don’t think that’s fair,” Lennard told ZBVI Radio this week.

New policy will make USVI drive BVI boaters out of business

The charter operator said he felt the new policy changes would have a serious effect on local boaters — with water taxis being affected in particular — since many local boats do transfers from St Thomas in the neighbouring US Virgin Islands (USVI).

Lennard said the USVI boaters can now offer services at lower rates than local boaters, and will ultimately put locals out of business. Lennard suggested that there should have been consultation with stakeholders on both sides before the policy change was made. 

“Right now, I can’t see how we are going to survive out of this,” Lennard stated. He added that there was not much local boaters can do at this point.

More information needed 

Ashburn Harrigan, who is the owner of Platinum Yacht Charters, said he was not given any details about the new changes either. 

“I cannot say why it was done and I cannot even say that it would impact or not impact my business,” Harrigan commented. 

The business owner suggested that until he gets more details, he would be unable to make a meaningful contribution on the effects of the new changes.

Weighing in on the discussion, Chairman of the BVI Marine Association, Andrew Ball suggested that the step taken by government was pushed forward after contention with the USVI. However, he said as long as it is part of the larger process to in reforming the yachting industry, he considered it a small part of a good move. 

BVI News will explore more on the BVI Marine Association’s viewpoint in a follow-up publication.


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  1. rtret says:

    these charter company took advantage of people all these years. I’m glad to see this change.

    Like 6
    Dislike 7
  2. Why? says:

    Mixed reviews because it is NOT a policy. The government has NO CLUE on what is a policy and should with immediate effect be prohibited from using that word ever again.

    Like 13
    Dislike 1
  3. Not working says:

    The head of the marine assoc allegedly has two usvi boats he works for. He is not standing up for the BVI marine trade who do not want this.

    Like 6
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  4. WTF says:

    He dropped those because they couldn’t get into the BVI!

  5. Anonymous says:

    An immediate (November 15th) easing of restrictions for USVI boats to enter the BVI without licenses or work permits. So how is this going to impact local operators who still have to pay these expensive fees. Answer: NEGATIVELY!! No forethought, no consultations, no analysis, no impact assessment. The announcement comes as a real slap in the face for local operators

    Local operators picking up and dropping off in the USVI must have a US business license (impossible to get without US citizenship and US address) a bond (1500 approx) and more and more. Where’s the level playing field? This bumbling, fumbling government is not paying attention.

    Like 7
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  6. @Virgin Islander says:

    The article in the VI Consortium is much more accurate than the articles on the BVI news websites. The key word is ‘reciprocal’!

  7. Carrot Bay says:

    Hope when me a young BVILANDER go to apply for a tourist oriented business licence them DON’T give me NO SHITZ. I have NO plans of moving to JAMAICA to make a lively hood!

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  8. @anonymous says:

    Spot on!

  9. Reciprocal says:

    Under the agreement USVI will drop those requirements as its a reciprocal arrangement, seems very sensible

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
  10. Me says:

    What is a “policy” as against what is the law?
    This is the same thing that Immigration had issues with, the Government put a “policy” in place but the law was saying something else. As we all know the law prevails so please someone explain how this “policy” will work?

  11. truth says:

    they should not of changed the policy for water taxis, that needs still to be in place.

  12. Understand says:

    that many BVI residents are the directors or shareholders of Red Ensign Group companies that operate charter yachts in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and other sailing holiday destinations. Those residents will be delighted to see their company’s yachts cruising BVI waters once again and free of all the unnecessary BVI government restrictions.

  13. ..... says:

    Is all of this with the assistance of the newly appointed tourist board members?

    Whatever way you slice it, no thought as per usual.

    You all playing with people’s livelyhoods. Sickening.

  14. Lol says:

    Remember when the taxi men kicked up against the free Road, Town shuttle? Remember when they said that the free shuttle would kill their business?

  15. US advocate says:

    Before the BVI govt put in place all it’s ridiculous new requirements that basically excluded us from being able to do day trips in the BVI or water taxis there were almost NO BVI day boats or especially water taxis! Over the past 2 years the playing field was not just tipped but upside down only allowing BVI based water taxis to operate between the two countries. This created a brand new heightened interest by BVI boats to jump in the game. When your government removed us from the picture the opportunity was ripe for the taking. Many large, high powered go fast boats came rolling in to take part in this veritable “gold rush”! With the US boats removed you could double the normal fees and get away with it. Now you want to complain about “fairness”?! It’s completely laughable! Sure you love your monopoly, who wouldn’t? It’s understandable you want it to continue. It’s just greed.

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