Photo Credit: Clifton Skelton/BVI Platinum News
Amidst growing public discontent over the quality of ferry service being offered between Tortola and St. Thomas, Government has announced plans to facilitate the leasing of ferries for the upcoming tourist season which begins in November.
Minister of Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool indicated during a press conference yesterday, July 23, that contrary to reports, Government is not bringing in another ferry company to operate in the Virgin Islands.
"I am therefore pleased to announce, at this time, that Government has stepped in and will be facilitating the lease of two or three ferries in time for the upcoming winter tourist season this year," Minister Vanterpool told reporters at Maria's By The Sea.
He added that Government understands the critical importance of guaranteeing a seamless connection into and out of the islands for tourism, commercial and recreational purposes.
According to the Minister, negotiations are underway with operators to determine how Government can further help to make the vital ferry service a lot more efficient in the longer term.
"But, in the interim, Government is working to ensure that by November 1st we will have at least two very reliable boats running between Tortola and St. Thomas," the Minister stated.
Pressed by reporters, the Minister maintained that the Government does not intend to be involved in the ferry boat operations in the Territory.
As it relates to offering subsidies, Minister Vanterpool stated that he could not answer the question, but he is aware that the Government is prepared to subsidize the ferry boat operations as they have done on the Angegada route and in the past with the late night boat on St. Thomas route.
"We want to make sure that we have the ferry boat service up to the level we are looking for, but if we have to do any subsidization, hopefully none, but if we have to we will be looking at that very closely," Minister Vanterpool stated.