VIPCA’s 2017 USVI Charter Yacht Show Confirms Territory is Open for Marine Tourism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2017

 

VIPCA’s 2017 USVI Charter Yacht Show Confirms Territory is Open for Marine Tourism

 

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The success of the USVI Charter Yacht Show proved St. Thomas is back on the map and open for business in terms of marine tourism in the wake of two major hurricanes in September. Sixty-six charter yacht brokers from the Caribbean, U.S. and Europe visited the three-dozen luxurious 40- to 93-foot sailing and power yachts that nearly filled the available docks at IGY’s Yacht Haven Grande Marina. The November 11 to 14, 2017 show was hosted by the VI Professional Charter Association (VIPCA).

 

“The show was such a triumph, considering the challenge of not just assembling the yachts, brokers and sponsors, but to do so post-hurricanes, while trying to do the right thing for our territory” says Oriel Blake, executive director of VIPCA, the only 501(c)(6) nonprofit charter association in the USVI, whose purpose is to promote, protect and further the capabilities of charter yachts and the marine businesses that sustain them in the U.S. Virgin Islands. “In the end, we decided to tailor the show to work with My Brother’s Workshop (MBW) (a non-profit VI charitable corporation that assists at-risk youth with job training and placement) in recognition of the tremendous work done overall and post-storm.”

 

The multi-faceted four-day show offered many events designed to give brokers ample opportunities to meet the crews and tour the yachts the brokers will book on charters in the coming weeks and months. These included a kick-off crew party, marine charter conference, Speak Easy themed yacht hop, culinary and cocktail competitions, and a sunset cruise awards dinner aboard the iconic day charter vessel, Kontiki.

 

Winners of the various contests highlighted the caliber of the Virgin Island’s crewed yacht product. For example, the 62-foot Privilege catamaran Anastasia won Best Crew and Best Boat over 50 feet, while the honor for Best Crew in the under 50-foot category went to the 45-foot Leopard, Free Ingwe, and Best Boat to the 47-foot Nautitech catamaran, Nemo. Anastasia’s chef, Rebecca Silva, earned first place in the Entrée and Dessert competition, while Missy Kay on the 47-foot Leopard catamaran, Pisces, took top honors in appetizers. Chefs were tasked to create dishes incorporating coffee by VI Coffee Roasters.

 

Two events in particular, the MBW volunteer day and the marine charter conference gave show participants an opportunity to get a real-time update on island services and state of the cruising grounds (with imagery from the Marine Rebuild Fund’s charter itinerary survey) as well as a chance to give-back.

 

Attendees also learned about the Marine Rebuild Fund or MRF (www.ViMarineRebuild.org) which was set up by VIPCA, the St Thomas Yacht Club, VI Hotel and Tourism Association, Coastal Zone Management and Pizza Pi and is managed by the Community Foundation Virgin Islands (CFVI). Its mission is to provide monies for re-establishing a stable marine industry and a safe, appealing cruising ground, and to boost marine tourism in the USVI in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes.

 

“The good news is that now having surveyed both the USVI and the BVIs we are confident in reassuring the world that our cruising grounds retain their natural beauty. Our surveys show that most of the beaches and the waters are in excellent condition and ready for visitors, boaters, snorkelers and beach lovers. The MRF has identified where there is work to be done and where its monies will assist a speedier recovery.” says Blake.

 

Beyond charter yachts, other signs that the U.S. Virgin Islands marine tourism industry has successfully pushed the re-set and re-open button is the visual from the show itself. From a second-floor balcony at IGY’s Yacht Haven Grande marina, two superyachts on the docks, a cruise ship on port call and day boats providing excursions to these cruise visitors were all visible in the background of the yachts showing.

 

Blake and her VIPCA Board of Directors are already looking ahead to next year.

 

“Three goals for the future are to continue to train VI youth for employment in the marine industry, create greater freedom in movement between the U.S. and Spanish Virgin Islands, and to develop a superyacht factor to the VIPCA Charter Yacht Show 2018 while maintaining a strong community element with our continued support of MBW.” says Blake.

 

Sponsors of VIPCA’s 2017 USVI Charter Yacht Show are Yacht Haven Grande, Gowrie Group, USVI Department of Tourism, Denison Yacht Sales VI, Stoli (West Indies Co.), Captain Morgan (Bellows International), Bohlke Air, International Medical Group (IMG), Charter Yacht Brokers Association (CYBA), 1First Bank, Cardow Jewelers, Orogold Cosmetics, The Fruit Bowl and Fresh Bistro. Proceeds from the VIPCA Charter Yacht Show were donated to My Brothers Workshop and the CFVI Marine Rebuild Fund.

 

For more information, visit www.vipca.org

The Triton Article : The Show Will Go ON!

The show goes on: USVI charter show in St. Thomas set

 

Marine Rebuild Fund – set up with VIPCA's and other marine entities.

The marine rebuild fund ( http://vimarinerebuild.org/.) seeks to help facilitate the immediate cleanup efforts of the cruising grounds, beaches, and marine facilities in the wake of the catastrophic 2017 hurricane season, reestablish marine vocational initiatives.

In the wake of Irma & Maria, both record-breaking category-five hurricanes, there has been much devastation.  Our already weak infrastructure will take months to rebuild and many of the large hotels (our main employers for both skilled and unskilled labor) suffered structural damage and are forecasting a minimum of six months to a year before reopening.  Many people are left without a home and without a means of putting food on the table.

The outpouring of support from the private sector has been the saving grace of many VI residents, but eventually the donations will diminish and the only way we as an island will carry on is to identify sectors of our economy with great potential for a quick rebuild and ensure that we are employing as many residents in the efforts and longterm growth.

The Marine Rebuild Fund was created by CFVI and is managed between a committee including VIPCA, STYC, Pizza Pie, Brigitte Berry, DPNR and CZM representatives.

VIPCA and Paradise Yacht Management's relief mission on S/V Dreamsong

VIPCA and Paradise Yacht Management’s relief mission on S/V Dreamsong from St Thomas to Puerto Rico has been a massive success. Together we raised $10,000.

THANK YOU EVERYBODY WHO DONATED!

…Terry Brubaker, Wiley Sharp, Beverley Scott, Teri Rottner, Frank Della Corte, Mary Basile, Graham Covington, James Doody, William Tate, Donald Andres, Keith Cressman, Janet Buddle, Tammie Willingham, William Tichy, Earl Boardman.

  • Ace Hardware purchases included solar lights, water purification filter systems, lanterns, battery powered flashlights and LED lights and air mattresses (and a 2 hour cue to get into the shop then a 1 hour cue once in it!)
  • Kmart purchases included lots and lots and lots of batteries.
  • PriceSmart purchases included 1 SUV and 2 car loads of non-perishable food for infants to adults – and lots of bleach and anti-bac wipes to tackle the mould.
  • Lots of FEMA Boxes of MRE meals

 

VIPCA and Paradise Yacht Management are sending a relief vessel to Puerto Rico which you can help supply (Oct 2nd deadline).

Our Puerto Rican neighbours were amazing in their relief efforts saving USVI after Hurricane Irma… now it’s time to send some of that relief back after their devastation from Hurricane Maria. 44% of the 3,500,000 Americans living on Puerto Rico do not have access to clean water and are in desperate need of food.

  1. You can click the donate button, this money will go directly into purchasing supplies to send by vessel DREAMSONG, Captained by Hank Hampton, departing from Yacht Haven Grande on Tuesday 3rd Oct.
  2. You can phone VIPCA on 340-642-0656 to arrange a delivery time for your donations on Monday 2nd Oct at Yacht Haven Grande, St Thomas.

Items to donate, or if you donate money these items will be purchased on your behalf:

• Water filtration systems
• Non-Perishable Food items – Canned or dry goods
• Non-Perishable Baby Food
• Solar powered chargers, flashlights, fans, gadgets

  

Thank you, from all of us at VIPCA.

 

USVI CHARTER YACHT SHOW Nov 11-14 2017 – post hurricane Irma update

Damage to the marina venue Yacht Haven Grande is still being assessed after Hurricane Irma. At present the USVI Charter Yacht Show will still be held as planned however VIPCA will update you if cancellation becomes a possibility.

REGISTRATION IS STILL OPEN. IF THERE IS ANY CANCELLATION REFUNDS WILL BE MADE.

Hurricanes Irma and Jose – Relief Fund

The incredible strength of Virgin Islanders throughout Hurricane Irma has, and is, beyond words. If you can support by funding those in need please click this link for an excellently managed relief fund with Community Foundation Virgin Islands.

Please send a brief note by FaceBook or Email to report that you, and / or your vessel (s), are safe and well. To check on reported safe vessels, crew, marine business owners check

1st Sept Environmental Levy for Charter Guests entering BVIs

Today VIPCA Interviewed with Buzz Radio 104.3 updating the VI about the additional fees in the BVIs effective 1st Sept.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL AND TOURISM LEVY EFFECTIVE ALL YEAR:

Visitors to the Virgin Islands are being advised that effective September 1, an environmental and tourism levy of $10.00 will be collected on arrival at the ports of entry.

The Environmental Protection and Tourism Improvement Fund Act, 2017 which was passed on June 9, and subsequently gazetted on June 12, states that all visitors arriving to the Territory via air or sea are required to pay the levy.

The legislation makes provision for the following persons to be exempted:

  • residents and belongers;
  • non-residents two years or under;
  • officers of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court;
  • guests of the Government;
  • official representatives of the Government of any country/Territory;
  • persons accorded diplomatic privileges in accordance with the Diplomatic Privileges Ordinance; and
  • persons exempted by the Minister by Order published in the Gazette.
  • Other exemptions include visitors arriving in the Virgin Islands on a second or subsequent occasion in the course of the same visit; persons in transit who on arrival do not leave the airport or dock; and crew of vessels.

All visitors must have the necessary documents available to help determine their status.

The monies collected will be used to facilitate environmental protection and improvement, climate change, and the maintenance and development of tourist sites and other tourism related activities.

Environmental and Tourism Levy FAQs

VIPCA supports MVP!

VIPCA is so proud to support MVP – the Marine Vocational Program.

MVP students will enrol in the VIPCA Marine Apprenticeships and all receive scholarships to support their ambitions to be Captains. Keep up the good work Jimmy Loveland and thank you for your inspirational work.

https://www.gofundme.com/marine-vocational-program-mvp

Executive Director Oriel Blake spends one day a week training 8-10 students from the Boys and Girls club, St Thomas.

Training is mostly hands on boat handling skills using the MVP power vessel and dinghy as well as snorkel and swimming classes, scuba diving, kayaking, line/rope handling (throwing, anchoring, splicing, mooring, securing moorings and warps, knot tying…. but also theory classes about boat handling, passage making, rules of the road, safety onboard, fire prevention, sea survival…

If you’re interested in volunteering or funding MVP directly please contact info@vipca.org

BVI CRUISE PERMIT FEE INCREASE EFFECTIVE AUG 1st

Foreign (USVI) boat/yacht charter companies are required to pay $16 per person per day to charter in the BVIs (previously $4/p/day)… and not just in high season, all year round, term or day charter.

This morning in a radio interview on Buzz 104.3 VIPCA reminds USVI charter vessel operators to stay compliant.

http://www.bvi.gov.vg/media-centre/cruising-permit-fees-increase-august-1