Letter to Members from VIPCA President

Dear Valued Members,
As the world continues to confront this unprecedented global pandemic, our hearts and minds continue to go out to all those affected.  Specifically, in this community we are feeling the economic impacts of these circumstances and they will have long lasting effects.  It seemed like our industry and our islands were finally back to full stride since the storms of 2017 and now we have been challenged again.  Once again, it’s time to show our resilience, our humanity, our determination, and our love for these Virgin Islands.
Currently, revenues for our tourism businesses are null and void.  There are resources and opportunities available to all of us and VIPCA has highlighted those on our website and social media pages.  If you have questions relating to these assistance packages, please feel free to reach out via email or social media.  Please take care of your employees and contractors and encourage them to seek out all opportunities that are available to them.  Our industry’s strength lies within the people working with us.  Once this pandemic ends, lets strive to be as strong as we can be.
Many of our members have voiced concerns over contractual relationships with clients and many of our contracts have done a poor job of providing direction as to how we handle a pandemic.  Unfortunately, this has burdened everyone involved.  I am recommending to all of our businesses that we take care of our clients in the best way possible as we will need them now more than ever.  Let’s lead with our ethics and encourage them to appreciate our practices as we strive to forge long-term relationships with them.  Let’s work together with our industry partners to find reasonable solutions that may sit outside our current contract definitions.  The tourism industry around the world is feeling the same pain.  Let’s please keep our niche industry and Virgin Islands culture away from criticism for the betterment of our future.  VIPCA has begun the process of addressing our contractual dilemmas and is dedicated to working toward better solutions for our term-charter industry moving forward.  Our mission has always been to represent the crew, vessels, charter brokers and marine vendors, while advocating a positive reputation locally and internationally.  This comprehensive view of our industry will guide us through this process going forward.  Your input as members is strongly encouraged.
I encourage all of you to take a look around you today and to consider what you can do to evoke a positive change on our Virgin Islands.  Now is the time for all of our members to be ambassadors for our marine environment and infrastructure.  There are more visiting yachts in our waters today than ever before, and while social distancing and “stay-at-home” policies must be adhered to, we should do our best to pass the important and pertinent information on to those that have just entered our waters.  All of this information has been provided by VIPCA through our social media pages and website.  I would also encourage all VIPCA yachts to fly their burgees as a beacon of information and support to these visiting yachts and yachts-people.  In order to protect our Virgin Islands, we need to inform everyone of the current policies that affect those currently residing within our borders.  Everyone can play a part in passing the word.  As a group we can be effective.
Now that we have the time, let’s put our best foot forward.  The natural beauty of the Virgin Islands is one of our greatest assets and we should continue to show that to the world.  Please stay positive and active on your social media accounts and with your marketing efforts and let’s keep the Virgin Islands and its wonders in the minds of our clients. They want to be here with us, and that day will come soon.
In closing, I’d like to reiterate one fact. Now more than ever, we need to lead by example as it pertains to all of the circumstances that have fallen upon us.  Please encourage the Social Distancing, Quarantine-if-needed, Holding Tanks usage, and respecting the policies on our beaches to all of those around you.  Our role as an industry is to protect the waters, the shores, the people and the culture of the Virgin Islands from a marine perspective.  Let’s all work together.
Stay Safe, and let’s continue to build on our collective future.
Dare Blankenhorn
President, VIPCA