Home African Caribbean Collaborate With St Thomas Part II

Collaborate With St Thomas Part II

by Dickson Igwe
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Dickson Igwe, resident socio-economic and political columnist

This second article on collaboration with St Thomas states that the announcement of increased airlift into the British Virgin Islands by American Airlines flying to Terrence B Lettsome International directly from Miami in the coming months, will offer enormous benefits for BVI tourism.

Collaboration with St Thomas remains vital however. In today’s highly interconnected and networked world, collaboration prevails over competition. This is despite the pushback against globalization, by a number of authoritarian rulers and states.   

Now, The British Virgin Islands and United States Virgin Islands share a common geography, and a close social, economic, and cultural history.

Some in the British Virgin Islands assert that the United States Virgin Islands is ‘’eating their bread.’’ The reality is that the USVI is US Territory with all the travel and market power that its link with the USA mainland confers: direct links to major US hubs such as John F Kennedy, O’Hare, and Hartsfield Jackson. In turn, these US airline hubs connect St Thomas to the rest of the world, far more than air transport hubs in the Caribbean, such as Antigua and St Martin.

Air travelers flood into St Thomas from the US mainland and then a percentage hope to visit the British Virgin Islands to sail or simply visit and experience the charm of these islands.

Collaborating with St Thomas in no way takes away from the vision of a Terrence B Lettsome International that can accommodate the largest jets, and further increase airlift and travel into the territory.

Collaboration with the USVI could significantly increase those numbers, largely. One cannot but be aware that a number of local owned hotels appear empty most nights. Travelers from St Thomas who would normally stay put in the USVI have the option to holiday in one of several local hotels and accommodations with travel and market integration: Prospect Reef remains a ruin sadly. Increased traveler traffic into the BVI increases the option of developing the facility.

An increase in traffic from the USVI would lubricate the tourism market in the BVI: taxis, hotels, guesthouses, water sports, leisure activity, restaurants, sailing and yachting, grocery stores, car rentals, would all see an increase in revenues and therefore employment and investment.

The solution is to integrate as much as possible the two markets: the USVI and BVI.

The best way to describe what should happen is a model: a traveler from the USA mainland arriving in the USVI need only meet one layer of protocol at a BVI Desk at the Cyril E King Airport before arriving in the BVI. That will probably be a swift security check and then a tax that will cover hidden costs of travel into the BVI. A central data- base that enables easy access into the BVI processes the traveler.

Then all ferry and air travel from the USVI should be free of customs and immigration checks: the same as traveling from St Thomas to St John and St Croix, or Tortola to Virgin Gorda or Jost Van Dyke.

Movement and regulation of travelers from the USVI becomes a police responsibility and not a customs and immigration task. Only travelers from beyond the USA should face immigration and customs protocols; these travelers processed at the BVI Desk in St Thomas.

The government encourages late night ferries to allow seamless travel into the BVI, even when travelers arrive late evening on St Thomas.

The traffic generated allows hotels and tourism-based businesses to increase revenues and invest in their operations.

New businesses enter the BVI tourism market as it grows.

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Dickson Igwe

Dickson Igwe

Dickson Igwe is an education official in the Virgin Islands. He is also a national sea safety instructor. He writes a national column across media and has authored a story book on the Caribbean: ‘The Adventures of a West Indian Villager’. Dickson is focused on economics articles, and he believes economics holds the answer to the full economic and social development of the Caribbean. He is of both West African and Caribbean heritage. Dickson is married with one son.


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