Premier Fahie was referring to the British Virgin Islands Port Authority (BVIPA)’s debt for the construction of the C. B. Romney Tortola Pier Park project and the general economy of the territory.
“If we miss this industry this year and next year, somebody has to finance the Port’s loan that they had long before I reach, about $50 million I think it is now. Somebody has to find that money and not just for the loan; we are not talking about the rest money that is needed to keep people employed. So this is not something for persons to get emotional about,” he told taxi and tour operators on Tuesday, August 31, 2021, during an emergency meeting at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in Paraquita Bay.
The meeting was to determine the way forward with the cruise industry and to gauge how stakeholders felt about the territory allowing cruise passengers who have been fully inoculated to enter without being tested for the deadly virus.
The cruise industry has made their position clear that they won't be making calls to the Virgin Islands if that protocol is not relaxed and choose other destinations with fewer protocols.
Following the meeting, the government has to make a decision that must be relayed to the cruise industry by today, Thursday, September 2, 2021.
“We can’t keep shutting down every time something happens we are going to be stone-cold broke because all the revenue generators are down and while, I don’t want to say it to saying that I am insensitive to COVID-19, but we have to decide how we are going to balance this,” Premier stated.
He said the risk of contracting COVID-19 from carriers on cruise ships are smaller given the timeframe that the cruise passengers are going to be on the ground.
Tourism has been severely impacted for the past year and a half because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.