On international airports, cruise ship villages, and state of the art ferry terminal

| December 29, 2012
Social contributor - Dickson Igwe

Social contributor – Dickson Igwe

There is no escaping the influences of globalization on Virgin Islands politics, commerce, and community.

The beginning of this medley cum commercial story is an admonition to Virgin Island’s leaders not to ignore the improvement needs of the West End Ferry Dock. That facility is as critical to Virgin Islands commerce and tourism, as is the Terrance B Lettsome International Airport.

High traveler and tourist numbers flowing through the facility determine the importance of the West End Ferry terminal as a critical port of entry. However, the West End Ferry Dock requires expansion, modernization, and better customer functionality. An improved facility and ferry operation could conceivably increase the volume of traffic flowing through the terminal significantly, to the benefit of the West End of Tortola in particular, and wider BVI commerce.

And anyone traveling to and from the US Mainland, using the West End Ferry Terminal, over the Christmas 2012 holidays, would have experienced bottlenecks. With ferry delays, cancellations, and frustrated travelers.

Improving and developing the West End Ferry Dock, Road Town Ferry Dock and the Terrance B Lettsome International Airport is essential and even critical to the long term economic development of these Lesser Antilles. This is a tiny country that depends on overseas trade for its very survival. On small island jurisdictions, ports of entry are arteries and airways, giving life to community, commerce and industry.

Another thought is this one: like the United States Virgin Islands have done, Government here may have to play a ‘stronger hand’ in the ferry industry if BVI tourism is to remain aggressively competitive. The USVI Government recently acquired two multimillion dollar ferries to boost tourism competitiveness, efficiency, and functionality.

A British Virgin Islands that hopes to attract a discerning and global consumer already spoiled for choice, a Virgin archipelago that possesses a world class and pristine geography, comprising the best sailing and diving; and the most remote and idyllic beaches to be found anywhere, cannot afford to have travelers to its shores holed up in St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, and Antigua.

The British Virgin Islands must have the equal capability of accessing global markets, world capitals, major cities, and massive population centers, just as any other Caribbean destination with the requisite air facilities and capabilities. That is not an option if this country is to compete economically on an international scale and at a global level, now and in the future. Growing the economy is the only way a good and prosperous future for the Virgin Islands child and teenager is assured.

West End Ferry. Photo courtesy ed-hamilton.com

West End Ferry. Photo courtesy ed-hamilton.com

OK. The Beef Island Airport project is back in the news. The idea of a global air facility, and a proposed cruise ship pier, and cruise village -the pier project a themed one, with substantive foreign investment- brings out the worst in many Virgin Islanders, residents, and visitors. It appears there is no middle course in this, the most controversial national discussion in recent years. Only the BI- WATER debacle of 2010- 2011 can be compared to the current swordplay.

With comments denigrating the proposed development at Beef Island such as: ‘’ it will never happen,’’ or, ‘’this is pie in the sky,’’ and, ‘’ the runway to nowhere.’’ All the anti development rhetoric are allusions to the displeasure of a significant cross section of the country’s population in those developments. However, these are necessary developments in this Observer’s view, meant to plug this country into the 21st Century global marketplace.

It is agreed that the airport and cruise pier developments must happen in sync with a wider national development model. There must be a politically bipartisan development prototype, one that begins to build the robust and thoughtful, social and physical infrastructure, required for the medium and long term welfare of these Virgin Islands. A geography that must compete in a big bad world ruled by an avant garde paradigm called globalization.

Interestingly, for the anti airport and anti cruise village crowd, development is to be taken like a large dose of CASTOR OIL. The proposed Beef Island runway development is bitter medicine for many. It is to be taken with a teaspoonful of lime juice to ease the trauma. In this Observers view, a redesigned and drastically improved airline facility remains crucial to this country’s long term economic viability. Just as it will be, welcoming cruise passengers at a state of the art cruise village with pier that can accommodate the largest ships.

In a recent online media story, a youthful Virgin Islands politician reportedly displayed enormous courage: tremendous bravery. The savvy businessman, and legal mind, asserted with the SUPREME VIM, of a WINSTON CHURCHILL, that he would rather vacate his posting as a pillar of Her Majesty’s Government and member of Cabinet, than see the airport project or cruise pier plan, placed on the back burner.

What a thing!  And talk about drawing a line in the sand!

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Category: British Virgin Islands News, Culture & Society, Politics

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