With the Novel Coronavirus spreading worldwide and now restricting free travel, at least one local charity-based entity is foreseeing a downturn in its crucial funding.
Operations Manager at the Virgin Islands Search & Rescue (VISAR), Phil Aspinall said a fee of $2 per person is collected by the bareboat charter companies on behalf of VISAR.
“It’s purely voluntary. There is no legislation in place or anything like that. We have an arrangement so to speak with the bareboat companies who ask for a donation on our behalf from the guests when they come.”
He said the funds, when collected, would be given to VISAR on a quarterly or yearly basis.
“So if it is less of those people arriving it is going to be a reduction in that potential revenue. VISAR relies on tourists and donations. My operating budget is $250,000 a year, which we have to raise from the generosity of the good folks from the charter industry and everybody else.”
Aspinall stated that of late, raising funds has been getting more and more difficult.
“We foresee, sadly, a downturn in tourists in the short term. People are reluctant to travel, and we understand that, but obviously that will reduce our revenue funding. Now is challenging times and we are just rolling with the punches.”
Taking precautionary measures
In the meantime, Aspinall said VISAR is taking precautions when conducting search and rescue operations as it relates to the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.
He said: “If we are suspicious as to where they have been, if they are coughing and sneezing we would ask them to put on gloves and masks and we have masks as well.”
He continued: “We would also be contacting medical authorities before we bring them onshore to get their advice on how we proceed. We wouldn’t be called out for the virus per se. We would be called out for a broken leg or some injury of sorts so we would be reacting to that obviously. But when we get on scene, we have to assess the health of the casualty.”
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