Not long ago, we were met with the news that the government of the British Virgin Islands were about to impose some hefty fees for charter yachts entering their waters. For the average charter yacht these fees would have topped $250 just to visit and stay for a while. We are very happy to report that with great effort on the part of our collective charter yacht organizations and many other entities involved with marine-based tourism, those fees have been tabled, at least for now. So, the Virgin Islands is still one of the most affordable places to cruise. Read below and Come on Down! (Lovely table setting presented by Motor Yacht Starfire www.mystarfire.com available for charter in the Virgin Islands and other Caribbean locales)
"BREAKING NEWS: Cabinet indefinitely defers implementation of harbour fees
Government Information Service Cabinet has decided to indefinitely defer the implementations of harbour fees for vessels entering or remaining in Territorial waters or those using a BVI Ports Authority facility.In a statement today, Premier Honourable Ralph T. O'Neal, OBE revealed that the decision was taken at a specially convened sitting of the Cabinet on Monday. It was previously announced that the new fee structure would have taken effect on July 1st but was subsequently deferred until July 15th. However, the Premier explained that based on representations made to Government by local associations, maritime agents and others involved in the yachting industry both locally and abroad, the decision was taken to defer the introduction of fees in an attempt to protect the Territory's competitive edge as a yachting destination."After all the BVI has been known as the sailing capital of the Western Hemisphere, if not of the world, and therefore it was extremely important for Cabinet to consider the representations that were made, as the Cabinet will do for any representation that the people will make," the Premier stated. He added: "It must be remembered that the yachting industry contributes to the economy of the Territory and the yachtsmen enjoy our waters from Anegada to Jost Van Dyke." The Premier further explained that the yachting industry is a significant contributor to the local economy and as such the sector must be safe-guarded against adverse impacts. "Cabinet reviewed the new fee structure and also we considered the cost implications of the charges when compared to the rising cost of fuel," the Premier said. He added that "In addition, Cabinet determined that if the BVI were to implement this new fee structure, the Territory may have become the most expensive destination in the world for mariners and yachts." In addition to indefinitely deferring the introduction of harbour fees, the BVI Cabinet has agreed to establish a seven-member focus group to review the said fees.This group will be chaired by Mr. Peter Haycraft and will include local agent, Mrs. Francis David, Acting Chairman of the BVI Tourist Board, Mr. Terrance Ford; Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority, Mr. Vincent O'Neal; Comptroller of Customs, Mr. Wade Smith; Ms. Lorraine Stoutt of Caribbean Transport and a representative from the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association. The group is expected to submit its report to Cabinet by September, 2008.The Government is committed to ensuring maximum economic development for the Territory and providing the necessary protections for the sectors that propel this growth."