Premier Fahie said during his budget speech on Thursday, November 12, 2020, that this is the Virgin Islands way of staying ahead of the curve.
“Mr Speaker, even as the cruise industry is restructuring and preparing to re-emerge from the impact of COVID-19, the British Virgin Islands Ports Authority (BVIPA) is also working to adapt to the most important evolution in that industry – the emergence of larger, mega-sized cruise ships,” he remarked.
“They include, the OASIS of the Seas, a $1.4 billion luxury ship by Royal Caribbean that accommodates 6,300 passengers and the 6,500-passenger Excellence Class (XL) by Carnival Cruise Lines that was launched in 2020, and which was expected to cost $950 million,” he added.
The Premier further said, 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. 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.”
He further informed that in early October 2020, the BVIPA engaged the services of top cruise industry experts Bermello Ajamil and Partners, to assist the BVIPA in this undertaking
There will be other port improvements territory-wide, he informed.
The OASIS of the Seas, a $1.4 billion luxury ship by Royal Caribbean that accommodates 6,300 passengers.
Meanwhile, he said, in anticipation of both the potential for future cruise-passenger origination at the BVI and the increased demand for hotel accommodation, 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 that was issued. They include GPH and Meridian, a local Virgin Islands company. Upon request by one of the two proponents, and in consideration of COVID-19-induced lending challenges, the deadline for response to the RFP was extended from October 2, 2020, to January 29, 2021,” he said.
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