A number of hotels and resorts in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) have been telling local operators of charter vessels not to pick up their guests, according to Junior Minister of Trade Marlon Penn, who added that the said hotels and resorts are in turn applying for approval to operate charter vessels.
The junior minister, who noted that belongers have complained to him about the situation, said he has told Premier Dr D Orlando Smith that he will not stand for such practices by the hotels and resorts.
Penn declared that he is also disturbed by the actions of some marinas.
“Many of them (young belongers) have been operating legitimate charter businesses, and their concerns were the resorts around here are actually pushing them out of that industry. They (resorts) are telling them that they cannot pick up passengers from their hotels or from their resorts, and subsequently I have seen those resorts apply to run charter boats, and I have told the premier that I am not supporting that type of activity. It is unfair.”
“There are areas where our people are operating and they have proven that they could provide a good quality service in that area, and we should be able to continue to provide that service and operate in that sector,” Penn told the House of Assembly during a recent debate on the Cruising Permit (Amendment) Act.
The junior minister further stated that, in his opinion, spin-off services from the marine industry should be reserved strictly for British Virgin Islands belongers.
“Where I am sitting now with the responsibility that I have the privilege to have from the premier, is [that] you’ve seen a lot of persons applying for opportunity within the marine industry – the ancillary services that should be going to our people; areas where even our people are involved you find that a lot of the big marine companies are trying to squeeze in those sectors. It is very disturbing…”
“The ancillary services that are being provided from the charter industry, those opportunities should go to Virgin Islanders or belongers. We are already way behind the game in terms of owning the charter companies. The sorta bread and butter aspect of the industry, we BVIslanders right now are not engaged fully. There are some persons that are doing some things that have to do with the brokerage companies and operating in some other areas. But, from a point of view of the main charter services – the bare-boat charter and the day trippers – we really are not there,” added Penn.
No frustration with trade licences
The junior minister of trade further stated that a number of young people from the territory have been trying to start businesses within the marine industry, and he has given a directive that those persons would not be frustrated.
“The BVI sailors know the waters more than anybody else. Who better to show our guests a good time in the BVI than us? We have the tools to do it. They have the boats; the boats are there; the equipment is there. We now have to, from a government point of view, ensure that the support is there as well…”
“I have made that clear to my people; we do not frustrate the [trade licensing] process. Our job is to facilitate; not frustrate; to try to make it as smooth as possible to ensure that our people get the licences to incorporate their businesses, and give them the guidance they need for them to be successful, and the training and the tools that they need to be successful. That is our role from a trade point of view,” Penn further said.