Good Morning, Good Morning…Do you ever have that feeling that you just put your foot in your mouth? Well, I may have done just that with my statements in the charter boat section of yesterday’s article about USVI commercial boating in the BVI. And, for once, I can say I’m grateful for my lack of predicting the future as I wrote about it! HA! Yesterday, BVI News released an article announcing an update to the Memorandum of Understanding between the territories to be signed by USVI Governor Albert Bryan and BVI Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley on Virgin Islands Friendship Day in relation to boaters moving between the two territories.
On September 22, 2022, Governor Bryan, Premier Wheatley and other representatives of the BVI government met on St. Thomas at the Ninth Virgin Islands Council meeting to discuss cooperation between the two territories in regard to several topics. Two of which were tourism and boating.
Now, I don’t want all of you to get your hopes crazy high that the gates will all of a sudden be swung open to foreign charter boats in the BVI when the details of the MOU are released on the 50th Virgin Islands Friendship Day, October 22. I’m guessing there will still be some type of permitting that needs to be done. BUT, there is direct mention in the BVI News article of the new policies for foreign charter boats that came about during the pandemic.
“So, in principle, we are going to take a look at some of the provisions in that legislation that may have caused problems for boaters coming backwards and forward. Again, details can be forthcoming,” Dr Wheatley said.
He added that boaters can traverse the waters back and forth as is common and that has been happening between the two territories for centuries. However, these latest discussions surround making the process easier as it pertains to things like business licenses and work permits.” – BVI News
As we have said over and over again, it has not been the pandemic or COVID-19 keeping the foreign (USVI specifically) charter boats out of our beloved neighboring territory. But more so, it was policy and legislation changes that were made during the pandemic, making it nearly impossible for USVI small charter operations to obtain the licensing and work permits that the BVI has required since late 2021. If you haven’t read about the process yet, you can do so here.
So, although we don’t have much information on this update quite yet, I am SO excited to see the agreements and new policies that will come to light in the MOU on October 22.
“A lot of things to be done,” said Governor Bryan in the live stream of the conclusion of the Virgin Islands Council Meeting, “And it all starts with communication.”
And I know personally of at least a dozen charter operators, myself included, who have written to the Governor about this issue. Here’s hoping he has heard our concerns and that one day soon we will be sailing the BVI regularly once again!
“Certainly, in the mutual interest of BVI and USVI, fairness and reciprocity, and mutual respect are the principles that underpin the relationship between the USVI and the BVI,” Premier Wheatley said in a September 23 statement about the meeting. “I am quite pleased with the meeting we had. We were able to resolve a number of issues and more details will be provided on that.”
I’ll be following this story closely so stay tuned for updates later this month! Have a great Tuesday everyone…And keep your fingers crossed tight for a favorable outcome on this!