This according to Premier Andrew Fahie who said the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) is adapting to the evolution of the cruise industry, which is growing towards the facilitation of mega-sized cruise ships.
He said these mega-ships include the OASIS of the Seas – a $1.4 billion luxury vessel by Royal Caribbean that accommodates 6,300 passengers, and the recently-launched $950 million Excellence Class by Carnival Cruise Lines. It seats around 6,500 passengers.
“The BVIPA currently operates a single cruise pier at the Tortola Cruise Port. It is not capable of accommodating these larger, mega-sized cruise ships. Understandably, therefore, for the BVI to remain competitive and build resiliency in the Caribbean cruise sector, the development of a new pier must be a top priority,” Fahie said while delivering the Thursday’s budget address for the 2021 fiscal year.
“Therefore, the BVIPA is working diligently in the review of options to develop and operate a new mega-ship pier at the Tortola Cruise Port and other ancillary food, beverage and retail facilities at the Cyril B Romney Pier Park. In early October 2020, the BVIPA engaged the services of top cruise industry experts Bermello Ajamil and Partners, to assist the BVIPA in this endeavour,” he added.
Premier Fahie also said his government has bigger plans to boost local tourism. He said these plans are expected to result in a larger volume of tourist visiting the territory.
To accommodate these expected higher numbers, the BVIPA decided to set out plans to construct a new luxury hotel.
“The BVIPA issued an Expression of Interest for the development of a new luxury hotel and conference centre on a 27,281.12 square foot waterfront parcel in the Pier Park. Two companies were shortlisted to submit proposals to a subsequent Request for Proposal (RFP) that was issued. They include GPH and Meridian, a local Virgin Islands company,” Fahie stated.
Due to the challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic and a request made by one of the two companies, the BVIPA decided to extend the RFP submission deadline from October 2, to January 29 next year.
Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.