CHIEF MINISTER MEETS WITH TAXI
DRIVERS TO DISCUSS CRUISE POLICY
taxi drivers and other interested persons turned up at the Sir Rupert
Briercliffe Hall Monday evening for a meeting called by Chief Minister and
Minister of Tourism Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith to discuss the interim
cruise tourism policy with taxi drivers.
In his opening
statement, the Chief Minister said his government was fulfilling a promise made
when he announced the interim cruise tourism policy in the Legislative council
earlier this month to involve everyone in the decision making process.
He noted that
while a Chief Minister commissioned a review of the cruise tourism sector by the
Tourist Board has been submitted, he has not yet had the opportunity to review
it. However, he said he noted the comments of taxi drivers and others about the
policy and thought it advisable to call this meeting.
Smith acknowledged the importance of the tourism industry, which he noted
continues to create jobs for families, generate revenue from taxes and help pay
for schools and offer many opportunities for our people.
He stated from
the outset that his government believes cruise ships have been a good thing for
the BVI and will continue so to be long into the future.
The BVI leader
recalled that a cruise tourism policy limiting the number of arrivals to 2,000
passengers per day has been in effect since 1994 though not enforced. He
supported this policy, saying the BVI does not have the carrying capacity to
manage four and five ships in Road Harbour.
He pointed to
the lack of accommodation, utilities and developed attractions for visitors to
experience a fulfilling stay in the islands. He said that’s why his government
has embarked on a programme to manage the sector to ensure it remains strong for
years to come.
“The first step
is to develop a policy to ensure cruise ships can continue to come here and
provide support for all who work in the industry and ensure a good experience
for visitors,” Chief Minister Smith stated. “This policy is still being
considered and hopefully will be introduced in the near future.”
It is while
this policy is being considered that Executive council advised government to
introduce a short term policy limiting the number of large cruise ships in Road
Harbour to three on any given day.
created furor among the taxi drivers, who argue that this policy will drive away
cruise ships from stopping in the BVI, furthermore hurting the taxi business in
A slew of
questions came from the newly established BVI United Taxi Federation through its
president Mr. Arnold Smith. He firstly introduced the new Board to include Vice
President Romeo Cameron and members Clarence Fahie, Raul Cupid, Mario Smith,
Milton McLean, Alfredo Smith, Alphonso Barry, Roy Frett, Clinton Romney and
ranged from the possibility of the BVI being blacklisted by cruise lines as a
result of this policy; suggestions that the beaches be equipped with proper
restroom and relaxation facilities; developing and promoting historical sites;
questions about the timing of the introduction of the policy in the middle of
the tourist season; the absence of a taxi driver on the tourist board and there
was a request for taxi drivers to be consulted in the future when looking at
issues that affect them.
Minister responded to each concern and assured the taxi drivers that his
government is working on many of the suggestions made.
drivers stood up to raise their other concerns, which the Chief Minister, along
with the Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Finance Hon. Ronnie W. Skelton
and Minister of communications and Works Hon. Paul P. Wattley fielded.
last just about two and a half hours and was held at the Sir Rupert Briercliffe
Hall in Road Town, Tortola.
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