Premier Dr The Honourable Natalio Wheatley has indicated that the decision to relax the Territory’s policies for foreign charter boats was a swift intervention to avoid possible fallout with the U.S Virgin Islands – whose government Wheatley claims was already preparing to retaliate on the matter.
“This is an important step considering potential recent escalation of requirements that could have crippled traffic on both sides. We all know madam speaker that we heavily rely on access to the USVI waters and let there be no doubt the USVI Government was prepared to implement retaliatory measures were it not for quick intervention on our part”, he said.
“In addition to the practical aspects of Inter-Virgin Islands travel we believe it is the right thing to maintain good relations with our USVI neighbours”, Wheatley added.
Effective November 15th, the BVI no longer requires Foreign Charter Operators to obtain trade licences, nor require that crew members working on these vessels obtain work permits.
This reflects the removal of strict policies enacted in 2021, which slapped a fleet of new requirements on the industry.
Wheatley noted that the removal of these policies was necessary while legislators worked on marine reforms.
“ It is important to note Madam Speaker that the decision to remove the requirement for business trade licences is an interim measure while we work on broader ranging reforms in the Marine Industry. It is also important to note Madam Speaker that the decision to require trade licences was only put in place last year. This is not a long ranging requirement over a number of years, it was just put into place”, he said.
Wheatley emphasised that despite the relaxed measures, it was not a free for all for Foreign Boaters, and they would still be required to undergo a process in order to operate in the territory.
“I wish to underscore Madam Speaker that with the ease in requirements stated, Foreign based water taxi operators are still restricted to passenger drop off and the ports of entry and persons operating foreign charter companies are still required to obtain a commercial recreational vessel licence from His Majesty’s Customs” Wheatley said.