BVI News

Penn pitches September reopening for hotels | BVI has geographical edge to manage COVID, he says

File photo of visitors inside the Pier Park in Road Town, Tortola.

While noting that the territory has a geographical advantage in managing any spread of COVID-19, Opposition Leader Marlon Penn is proposing that government reopen the tourism sector in three-and-half months.

In a six-page document outlining how to jumpstart the territory’s second-largest economic pillar, Penn said tourism should be reopened one subsector at a time.

The Opposition Leader said he believes the first of these should be overnight, water-based subsector which caters to mega yachting, crewed yachting, and bare-boating.

“The vast majority of our tourism is water-based where density is a non-issue and adopting the new social distancing guidelines will not be a challenge. It will happen naturally,” Penn reasoned.

Land-based tourism

The tourism sector he recommends for reopening second is the land-based overnight sector comprising resorts, villas, small hotels, inns, Airbnbs, etcetera.

“Each of these could be slated for September 1, 2020. An earlier date would afford more time for stress-testing in the slow season. In addition, the TB Lettsome International Airport can be designated as the gateway,” Penn stated.

“Thirdly, day-trippers from the United States Virgin Islands, etcetera could be allowed to enter in October 2020, along with ferries from St Thomas,” he added.

The last category of visitors he believes should return are cruise liners. He should they should be allowed to return “against a timeframe that is acceptable for regional re-entrance because cruises stop at several destinations”.

“This would require regional coordination,” he stated.

Establish a single port of entry of visitors

Penn recommended for government to establish a single local port of entry for external visitors, in the first instance. He said all requisite preventative healthcare infrastructure and protocols, such as rapid antibody testing should be in place to screen all visitors entering the BVI.

“This would afford an efficient and effective management process for all arrivals, providing a ‘safe and isolated’ corridor,” Penn said.

The Opposition Leader further proposed a reporting system in which visitors demonstrate they are virus-free, before landing in the BVI. As for resorts, hotels, villas, yachts and other tourism-related business, Penn send they should be made to follow, implement and enforcement strict safety protocols.

Penn, in the meantime, argued that Virgin Islands’ small size and density are assets that lend themselves to mitigating health concerns. He high density “is a proven fertile platform for community spread of the virus”.


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  1. ndp heckler says:

    Come on marlon!!! Not in the middle of the hurricane season!!!

    Like 14
    Dislike 3
    • @NDP Heckler says:

      Exactly why it is the ideal time to do so. I heard the plan on the radio today and he actually suggested a well thought out approach which I didn’t think about.

      The off season is best time to reboot because the numbers are small and you get a chance to test your safety protocols to keep both residents and visitors safe.

      You people better come out of lala land, theirs no way the BVI economy will survive if we don’t reopen Tourism in a safe manageable way. We are falling behind with this because all our Caribbean country’s are putting safety measures in place and reopening. At our pace we will I open after every small business in the territory is dead. Under the guise of keeping us safe. Thanks Hon. Penn for starting the conversation, a word to the wise should be enough.

      Like 17
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      • Villas says:

        There are many that own Villas that would probably like to visit and stay at their property. These people infuse great amounts of money into the Territory yet you keep them away. Perhaps these people should be allowed access early on so that their properties are up to speed prior to tourism opening. This holds true for yacht and catamaran owners. This in itself should be the first stage after allowing citizens and residents back.

        Like 12
      • Sonette says:

        It does not matter what plan members opposition come with. Them who serve under the last ndp adminstraton are con artists and crooks. Don’t forget the cronyiss disrespect and suffering under the National Democratic Party. Listen and run ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??

    • ??? says:

      Such a fool a plan for open in the peak of hurricane. Boy go siddung you hear. Whoever writing up them crap for you need licks.

      • Simple Minded. says:

        Another cult member with your simple minded blog. Grow a brain why don’t you. If your testing something isn’t the best time to do it when things are slow. This isn’t no ordinary time we don’t have no slow or busy season. Have you been sleeping for the past 3 months or locked up at your cult? The world has changed the dynamics are different, we have to do things differently.

        I cry everyday for my blessed Virgin Islands, everyday.

  2. Longshanks says:

    Sure. You can reopen then. But you do need to work out what you will do when cases emerge.

    We went to the most severe lockdown in the world after one death. Will we lock down again if there are more cases come September or will we at that point just try and manage the spread

    Like 10
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  3. lol says:

    ya know?

  4. Dornell Hazel says:

    We need Scrubisland open ASAP mr penn please

  5. Social distancing is nonsense says:

    The whole social distancing is not sustainable in any way.

    People are supposed to interact.

    Covid is not the only issue that affects your health, you need to have interactions to boost your immune system. In a sterile world you will become vulnerable to each and all threats and there are many more than just covid.

    If we need to adept to a new normal it should be the new normal of eating healthy and looking after your body. Not a single tourist will come in if we keep wearing these ridiculous masks.

    Like 6
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  6. Buzzy Bee says:

    A September start date for tourism is not exactly a “jump start” for the economy. The sister islands, Jost Van Dyke, Anegada, Virgin Gorda, there will be tumble weeks rolling down the streets of ghost towns, and half of Tortola too! the Hon. Leader of the Opposition needs to advance solutions, not starvation.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Let the old and sick stay home. less than 1% death rate. At some point we have to open up. It’s not like tourist are going to come here all at once anyway. Very few people will fly in the next few months.

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
  8. zw says:

    Let the boat and yacht charters resume. Do fever checks on the docks if you must, just let tourists and the locals livlyhoods begin to come back.

  9. Boatman says:

    I changed my June bareboat trip to Sept. The charter company and airline said plenty of availability in september. So there seems to be no stacked up vacationers ready to pile on in sept. Bareboat charters are usually funded by rich old guys…they won’t take risks like this. It will take months of tourist photos and videos posted to social media before rich old guys get enough confidence to return.

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