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‘I want charter businesses to thrive in Greater VI’ – Gov-elect Kenn E. Mapp

-US Law passed by Congress but awaiting Senate approval can significantly change the landscape of the boating business for the VI and USVI; Hon Julian Fraser said Territory must stay ahead of the curve
What is likely to be a boon for the United States Virgin Islands charter boat industry could spell trouble for its counterpart in the Virgin Islands as a Bill passed in the United States House of Representatives allowing uninspected charter boats to carry 12 instead of just six passengers now just needs Senate approval to come into effect. Photo: Internet source
In a statement to this news site Governor-elect of the US Virgin Islands Kenn E. Mapp said his administration will work to encourage more maritime business throughout the Greater Virgin Islands as a whole. Photo: Internet source
In a statement to this news site Governor-elect of the US Virgin Islands Kenn E. Mapp said his administration will work to encourage more maritime business throughout the Greater Virgin Islands as a whole. Photo: Internet source
Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) said his proposed marine academy is aimed at strengthening the industry and it is something that the Territory must not relax on. Photo: VINO/File
Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) said his proposed marine academy is aimed at strengthening the industry and it is something that the Territory must not relax on. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – What is likely to be a boon for the United States Virgin Islands charter boat industry could spell trouble for its counterpart in the Virgin Islands as a Bill passed in the United States House of Representatives allowing uninspected charter boats to carry 12 instead of just six passengers now just needs Senate approval to come into effect.

This is according to an article published by the St Thomas Source news site captioned ‘Six-Pack Exemption Bill Passes House, Needs Senate Approval’ and published on December 6, 2014.

However when this news site contacted Governor-elect of the US Virgin Islands Kenneth E. Mapp, he responded with a statement saying that his administration will work to encourage more maritime business throughout the Greater Virgin Islands as a whole.

The article pointed out that boats were allowed to carry 12 passengers up to 1993, when the limit was set at six passengers under the terms of the Passenger Vessel Safety Act.

“The bill, which impacts only the Virgin Islands, passed the house with a vote of 413 to 3, indicating strong support for the measure,” the article said.

“The bill still needs Senate approval but it is expected to take up the measure next week. Gov. John de Jongh Jr. said he was cautiously optimistic that the bill would pass the Senate,” the article said.

“The governor said passage of this legislation is crucial in reclaiming the Territory’s place as the yachting capital of the world,” the article said.

"Restoration of this important sector of our economy will offer a milieu of technical and entrepreneurial opportunities in the boating industry,” the article quotes de Jongh as saying. “This legislation is a critical first step in our journey to regain our position as the world's leader in this important industry sector.”

USVI Governor-elect Mapp speaks

Last evening December 8, 2014, USVI Governor-elect Kenn E. Mapp’s Transition Team Communications Director Kim Jones sent this news site a statement from Mapp on the issue when contacted.

It stated thus: “On December 3rd, H.R. 5769, the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014 passed the House and now needs Senate approval. It is our hope that the proposed changes in the Six Pack legislation would encourage more maritime business throughout the Virgin Islands as a whole.”

“The current and somewhat restrictive Six Pack legislation has definitely put a strain on the owner/operators in the Crewed Charter Business and many of our locally registered vessels have fled the area to operate in other waters. It is this new administration's goal to encourage and assist small businesses, land based and marine based and grow the once thriving marine industry throughout all of the Virgin Islands, US and BVI.”

Local reactions

Speaking to this news site, General Manager of The Moorings Clarence Malone said that he has heard about the US legislation but had not read enough about it to comfortably comment.

However he said that while there are a lot of rules and regulations the question remains enforcement. “But like I said I haven’t had the opportunity to take a look at it so it is kind of hard to comment. My understanding based on the limited information I received it is all for them to try and generate more revenue,” he said.

He said that if people’s fears are confirmed then it would affect business in the Virgin Islands. “But to what extend that would be kind of hard to say,” he said.

“What I do know is that some of our customers would love to, from time to time, go to the USVI but because of the restrictions it was difficult and complex it is they tend not to,” he said.

Contacted for a comment on the issue, Chairman of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) said that is what his proposed marine academy is all about, staying a step ahead of the curve.

“When the USVI does get the go ahead from the Senate to have 12 passengers on their boats they will now be where we are today. And by the time they are fully developed to where we are, we will be another step ahead. And that’s why it is so crucial to get this programme up and running once we are the Government of the next administration,” he said.

He said that once the measure passes the Senate it will take the USVI some amount of time to really impact on the yachting industry of the Virgin Islands. “They are looking into the possibility of building a marina at Coral Bay in St John and that’s a direct threat to us. Because Coral Bay is right outside of Norman Island and they could come into our waters and sail inside Peter Island, Norman Island, go up to Anegada, they can do anything,” said Hon Fraser.

“So we really and truly cannot relax on this particular issue…we have to jump on it and move forward,” he said.

28 Responses to “‘I want charter businesses to thrive in Greater VI’ – Gov-elect Kenn E. Mapp”

  • ... (09/12/2014, 09:26) Like (7) Dislike (31) Reply
    See that is why we need fraser to be chief the ndp does not have a clue!!!!
    • virgin gorda (10/12/2014, 08:16) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Funny man the many dislikes not going help u next election
  • bvibuzz (09/12/2014, 09:32) Like (7) Dislike (11) Reply
    Vino always has the best write up on deeds issues
  • lmao (09/12/2014, 09:45) Like (8) Dislike (3) Reply
    When he becomes the Government of the next administration? He better stop dreaming.
  • barry say you will hear (09/12/2014, 10:27) Like (19) Dislike (0) Reply
    • @ barry say you will hear (09/12/2014, 11:35) Like (1) Dislike (3) Reply
      Yea friendship day is a joke just a show for the sliver hair lady to get her photo taken dancing
  • Wow Wow What!!!! (09/12/2014, 10:42) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is the same person who came over here for your votes, now he taking bread out of your mouths. WOW!
  • a bvislander (09/12/2014, 10:55) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    What VI are they talking about...we are all VI so what is the harm...Gov Mapp calls it the VI and we are to call it the there should be one big VI and we will all be together?
  • dog (09/12/2014, 11:20) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
    If the amount of passengers used to be 12 and then dropped to 6, why? Sometimes they forget why the rule was changed. Maybe it IS a safety issue and they forgot. I personally think 12 is too many. Their charters will prefer the BVI because it is less congested, prettier, more relaxed than dodging mega-yachts and cruise ships.
    But that is soon changing and we will be like everyone else and lose our identity. We could make money off the STT boats by (carefully and tastefully) fixing Sopers Hole as a destination, Norman Island, Peter Island etc. At the end of the day- they all go home and leave us in peace.
  • qc (09/12/2014, 12:19) Like (3) Dislike (8) Reply
    Fraser is the best leader to work with gov Mapp vip all the way
  • Yes (09/12/2014, 12:24) Like (0) Dislike (4) Reply
    Stay ahead of game Fraser say. Lol Can't beat US at that
  • bvi (09/12/2014, 12:26) Like (4) Dislike (8) Reply
    We have the best sailing waters so let's hike up the cruising fees on them.
  • Wise Up Folks (09/12/2014, 13:09) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    It is interesting how while we talk about Virgin Islanders being "One People", declaring and maintaining a "Friendship Day"; we are still maintaining FEARS and threats about being out-Competed by the US Virgins.. Very strange.

    While Governor elect Mapp talks about encouraging the Cruise Yachting business in the entire Virgin Islands, (US and British), we are here talking about staying ahead of the game and are already feeling the threat of competition.

    I often wonder, why on earth, doesn't the BVI take advantage of our proximity, close relations and because of the US Virgins ties to the USA; the most powerful/prosperous country in the world. With the right government in place, (and I'm sure Mapp's government will be such a government), the US Virgins are finally going to get the support, a much grater support from mainland USA. We, without our hands out, can benefit to a much larger extent, because of the already mentioned benefits and the potential relationship.

    We are already using the US Currency, import more from the US than any other country (including our so-called Mother country), get most of our tourists from the US etc. Other Caribbean countries must be wishing they were similarly located like us, and have the ties we have with the US Virgins.

    By far, we don't obtain a similar economic benefit from the US Virgins, than they obtain from the US. We can be benefiting to a much grater extent.

    While we are all up in arms about having an expensive (hundreds of millions of $ debt) international airport (at this time), we should (at this time) continue to use St. Thomas' airport, develop a strong presence in St. Thomas to meeting/and assisting our visitors, develop a cutting edge ferry service that can connect between Bvi/Usvi in a much shorter time, prove real service; including internet service on all ferries, maintain designated persons on the ferries to assist with immigration/Customs paperwork, making sure that taxi service are readily available and waiting at the ferry docks etc

    Here is a benefit most of us don't know about the US Virgins. During the past slow Summer off-season, when most of the hotels on Virgin Gorda were closed, (as they usually are, between mid August and Mid October...Little Dix Bay, Bitter End, Biras Creek and Saba Rock); the ferry services and other excursion companies from St. John and St. Thomas, on a daily basis brought, boat loads of guests to Virgin Gorda to explore the baths, our Scuba Div sites etc. The taxi drivers did/do well and the restaurant/bars did/do similar...and would have been mush quieter without those daily excursions; (most days, 4 - 5 boats).
    • Voyagger (09/12/2014, 20:20) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      @Wise up folks, after all that you have said, which I think I understood and agrees with for the most part. Where in anything you said changes the fact that the new law gives the USVI a clear opportunity to place our now thriving yachting industry in jeopardy? And why are you taking issue with what Mr. Fraser said about taying ahead of the game?

      Do you believe that if the BVI does nothing about the present status of that industry they can compete with the USVI? Or is it simply your arguement that we concede the sector to the USVI, and concentrate on the areas you mentioned in your blog as opportunities, such as an upgraded ferry service, develop a strong presence in St Thomas, etc?
  • Just saying.... (09/12/2014, 15:41) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    the VIP works better with the USVI...Fraser is best to work with Kenn on these issues
  • shaw (09/12/2014, 21:51) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    It took a lot of courage of Mr. julian Fraser to push his marina proposal, and you can be sure the NDP will do everything they possibly can to discredit JF now.
  • vip (10/12/2014, 00:19) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    fair minded person would believe that some of the methods and ideas of frazer is just what we need to move the BVI forward ever!
  • farmer brown (10/12/2014, 08:18) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I for Donna hope she runs again
  • Wise Up Folks (11/12/2014, 00:02) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    @Voyage, of course I am in support of Frazer's maritime Academy idea for making the Vi-s marine industry more cutting edge, more competitive and a more thriving industry; creating jobs and getting Virgin Islanders rightly so, more involved in their tourism industry. That is what it rally comes down to...and I can actually visualize it.

    At an earlier time we were building boats in different parts of the Virgin Islanders (especially at East End); but the guys who had the boat building skills are just about all gone now, as well as the skillful sailors who sailed the vessels; sailing as far as the Dominican Republic and Trinidad in the south (often sailing by knowing the position of the stars and aided by the tides). Of course we need a Maritime Academy.. and need it soon. These skills must be revived.

    Please see my comment on an earlier interview by Mr. Frazer...under the the blogging name "Thinking Out Of The Box"
  • St johnian (11/12/2014, 07:41) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    @bvi if you keep raising those fees on us, I agree with St.Thomian, we'll stop you from using our U.S.dollar. You'll have to find some other curency to use like the EC Dollars, the Pound ,the Euro or some other under value crap. We'll see how well your tourism/maritime industry adjusts and how strong your buying power will be. Remember KFC in St.Thomas don't accept EC Dollars.
    • Sailor (15/12/2014, 19:26) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Mr. Fraser has completely missed the point, as usual. I support the idea of the Maritime Academy, but that has nothing to do with the current issue. The crewed yachts will cruise the BVI, wherever they happen to be based. But where they are based, benefits in the tens of millions of dollars, directly in marina fees, maintenance and provisioning, and indirectly in hotel nights, taxis and restaurants, flow. If the fleet moves to the US and bases there, the tourists will still come to the BVI (although for less time), but the money will stay in the USVI. That's why it is very important to remove the impediments to business that the charter boats experience. On an official level that means cumbersome procedures for Trade Licenses and Work Permits, that take a day and less than $100 in the USVI. It means fewer fees that put the BVI at a disadvantage. It means importing parts duty free so that maintenance providers can compete with the USVI. Already, almost nobody buys and installs a marine generator here, since the duty is 20%. It's much less costly in the USVI. Someone needs to write down a balance sheet of the cost of doing business in the BVI and the USVI, and the benefits to whichever territory is the main base. Then everyone needs to get those numbers in their heads, from the Government, to the private sector, to the ferries and to every taxi driver. And then do whatever it takes to keep the industry here. The Maritime Academy is a completely different issue. Has Fraser actually talked to anyone in the crewed charter industry? That would be a first. The current government is, however, and let's hope they get their priorities straight. And don't think for a minute that it would take long for the fleet to move so that, as Fraser claims, the BVI could "stay ahead". All it takes is raising their anchors. Anyone who doubts that should ask Village Cay how long it took them to lose the charter fleet to Nanny Cay. That move was measured in months, not years. And when they move, it's very hard to get them back.
  • Wise Up Folks (11/12/2014, 10:17) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    The sea has always been the saving grace of the people of the Virgin Islands. It was that before...and can be that again; but it takes Vision and foresight in our politics and the right folks in "our Whit House".
    I am not aligned with any particular political party and not really a fan of Mr. Frazer; but as far as coming up with solutions to move the VI forward, the "Marine Academy" is the best idea floated in a darn long time; (compared to selling whole islands, giving away our tax dollars and indulging entertaining investing in an overly expensive international airport, when there are is an alternative; at least at this particular time).

    As far as being overly concerned with being challenged by St. Thomas in our marine industry, I don't see a problem. The BVI is a very special place; unique, less crowded (at least for now) and different in other ways; more dive sites (the Wreck of the HMS Rhone is world class), best sport fishing (at the Sea Mount and the North Drop). Beaches on Anegada are as long as a mile long or darn near. Of course we will have to be vigilant ...and just do our thing.
    If someone works in an office and the closest you come in contact with the sea is going to the beach or buying fish in the supermarket you wouldn't have much of an idea of the way our marine industry works, and the huge amount of moneys being generated.
    Example: While an apartment will cost $300,000 - $400,000 or more to construct yielding a gross rental income of 4 or 5 thousand a month, that same money is typically earned in a week or less with yacht (motor or sail), costing the same or less. A Scuba dive investment is another (especially if combined with a dive store and tank rental).
    Marine electrician (which is totally different from land based wiring can earn a technician as much as $90.00 p/h or up to $5,000 a week; the same for a good fiber-glass specialist, marine painter or marine mechanic.
    A marine supply store is also another big money-maker, same with a rigging business and sail/repair etc.

    The interesting thing is the amount of money we (the tax payers), pour into tourism marketing and promotions; $15millions-$20-millions p/y.... including these same maritime business. Question: Who are the real beneficiaries?

    Folks we better wake up and wise up. Business ownership is the Real Deal and financial guru, Robert Kiyosaki in his best selling book, "Rich Dad/Poor Dad espouses it.

    Th Virgin Island is only so many square miles. Like the Lashing Dogs says in their song, "There's honey in th rock"
  • St. Thomian (11/12/2014, 11:13) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Thank you my brother St.Johnian for having my back, I love my sister Islands in the BVI, but when everything for them is to raise there fees it's just sickening. They just raise their departure fee 300% ,their port security fees will be increased soon and now they are suggesting to raise their cruising fees. What Gov Elect Mapp said was that "he wants the charter business to thrive in the Greater Virgin Island's" what he means when he say's Greater Virgin Islands it's the United State Virgin Islands U.S.V.I. both English and Spanish speaking, Puerto Rico, Veiques and Culebra included and the United Kingdom Virgin Islands U.K.V.I./B.V.I. from Anegada to Puerto Rico all islands between is known as the Greater Virgin Island's. When Christopher Columbus tried to find a short cut to the far east he came upon the islands in this region which he named after St. Ursula and her eleven thousand virgin's. ALL ISLANDS!!! He didn't just saw Tortola alone. If he did why didn't he stop there, let's keep it real, he landed in Hispaniola for you who don't know where that is, it's the Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo) and Haiti learn your history. We all are one Virgin Islands from Anegada to Puerto Rico.
  • fix it (13/12/2014, 10:29) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Fraser and mapp will fix tis

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