Opposition Leader, Hon. Marlon Penn says that “We have to be ready to reopen to cruise ships calling to the Territory.”
Hon. Penn expressed to date, we have not received any updates or any information on the progress, processes and/or logistics of the reopening of the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park and how it will manage the resumption of cruise lines to the Territory in the coming weeks ahead. In addition, we have yet to receive the plans Government has put in place to ensure our residents, business owners, employees – our entire population is protected once cruise lines begin calling to our port.
“Tourism is the lifeblood of our economy, yet, we continue to see the disturbing effects not having a plan in place has on business owners and employees in the tourism space,” Honourable Penn added.
He further expressed that there are many persons across the Territory who have been unemployed or under-employed for over a year now due to the pandemic. The lack of a clear and comprehensive plan negatively affects those persons ability to plan and prepare for the near future, in terms of their livelihoods.
According to Hon. Penn, one such clear example occurred this past weekend, whereby ferry passenger endured up to five hours delay in the arrival process at the Road Town Jetty which ultimately results in a negative impact on our Tourism product. Incidents like this, he shared, further erodes our stakeholder’s confidence in both our entry protocols and ability to get Tourism product and economy moving again.
“What we are observing right now represents failure to present a comprehensive, workable plan that finds the right equilibrium to protect the lives of our citizens and the many Virgin Islands businesses and employees that depend so heavily on Tourism. These businesses are virtually on life support. With the livelihood of these busines owners and their employees at stake and they can ill-afford a disorganised, haphazard reopening of our cruise port,” Penn noted.
The Opposition Leader encouraged the Premier to ensure the necessary resources, equipment and systems are put in place to facilitate the reopening of the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park and our Territory on a larger scale to visitors.
Hon. Penn iterated that he and his colleagues in the Opposition continue to express that this administration has proven there is no plan in place for the economic recovery of these Virgin Islands.
The Opposition Leader implores the Government to provide an update to all members of Government and the residents and potential visitors of the Territory on the progress of the reopening of the cruise port. The progress update will aid in business owners having a better idea of how to operate their businesses within the coming weeks.
The Opposition Leader further stated that the Opposition members continue to offer suggestions, both privately and publicly, to the current administration in an effort to help navigate the Territory through the COVID-19 crisis on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands
In conclusion, Honourable Penn said that he continues to urge the Government to present a plan focused on the economic recovery and growth of this Territory.