Premier Andrew Fahie has made it clear to persons both local and abroad that the British Virgin Islands is ready ahead of the resumption of cruise vessels which recommences calls to the territory today Wednesday October 13.
Premier Fahie made the comments during a specially held ceremony at the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park on Tuesday, for the return of cruising to the territory.
He said, “We’re ready for the return of cruise tourism since COVID-19. We’re ready to see our taxi operators doing tours again. We’re ready to see our Cyril B Romney Tortola Pier Park vendors increasing their sales and even having sales again. We’re ready to see our Craft Alive Vendors making money again.”
“We’re ready to see the marine side that benefits from this making money again. We’re ready to see even the ships that will be calling to sister islands and anchoring out there and some leaving from here, so that they can get their share of the economic pie, we’re ready to see this happen again,” he added.
Premier Fahie who is also the Minister of Finance said the ceremony was not just to declare that the BVI is ready, but also to restore hope among residents and various business owners of the potential benefits to come.
Cruise ships COVID-measures safer than on land practices
He also assured residents that the health practices of cruise ships in the event of a COVID outbreak is top level, stating that they have upgraded to standards and practices which are even safer when compared to on land practices.
“So we’re ready and we have to practice all the safe health measures. And let me tell you, however well the protocols we have established with the ships, they have better protocols than even most of the hotels and most of the industries. Cruising has changed significantly and there is a lot for you to know, that you’re almost more safe on a cruise ship dealing with COVID now, than you are on land, with how many measures they have changed up,” Premier Fahie explained.
Residents urged to get vaccination
In the meantime, the premier also urged residents to continue seeking vaccination as it is the only scientifically proven remedy to combat COVID-19.
He said while approximately 51 percent of the BVI’s population is inoculated, the goal is to continue to get more persons vaccinated to reach at least 85 percent of the territory.
“Though the protocols are good, we still believe in the value of the vaccines. I cannot leave without saying that therefore, although this government does not make the vaccines mandatory I believe in the freedom of choice, just like salvation. It is up to you to choose it or not, but we strongly recommend that you be vaccinated,” Fahie stated.
He added, “I urge everyone under the sound of my voice to please be vaccinated. We are now up around 51 percent and climbing of the population vaccinated, some people say that is good because once you get more that 50 percent you pass a test. Not at all. We don’t want to just be at 50-51 percent, we want to get the vaccination numbers up to 85-90 and it would even be good to get it up to 100 percent, but I am a realist. So let us get out there and become vaccinated.”
The first vessel to berth to the territory will be Seabourn Odyssey, today Wednesday October 13.