Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith was questioned twice in one week about the ferry services in the Territory. The first question was posed to the BVI Leader by the media at a press conference on 8 July and then later, on 10 July, by a resident during the ‘Government on the Road’ meeting that was held in the Sixth District.
During the press conference a member of the media told the Premier that there are concerns about the ferry service and what some might deem at times to be unreliability. In response, Premier Smith said: “We are in discussions with the ferries about how to engage with them to provide the best services that we can for persons travelling between the BVI and the US Virgin Islands.”
The Premier was also questioned about whether Government would consider subsidizing the ferry services. Hon. Smith answered saying that Government will support the ferry industry in whatever way it can: “Usually when one thinks about subsidizing the service it is usually a service that is required, and which does not exist in the country in a particular area and to give a start-up enterprise some sort of subsidy to get that going.”
“Subsidies will be for a limited time to get the business established. In the case of the ferries it is also a business that is very important to the BVI, to BV Islanders who travel, also to our tourism product and therefore when it is necessary it is important to support them whether it is in terms of subsidy, whether it is in terms of looking at necessary legislation or fees these things need to be considered,” he added.
When the question of what Government was doing to improve the ferry service industry was posed to the Premier during the Government on the Road meeting, he said: “We are continuing to have regular dialogue with the ferry operators, and we have also offered assistance in various forms; also we are beginning to play a more coordinating role in the way the schedules are operated. So that we will be assured that there will be a ferry service operating at regular times to be able to transport people back and forth.”