TURNBULL: WE MUST IMPROVE TOURISM PRODUCT

Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said Tuesday he supports whatever steps are needed to improve the Virgin Islands' tourism product.
In a meeting with the Public Finance Authority and Edward Thomas, president of West Indian Co. Ltd., Turnbull said he will back any initiatives that will enhance tourism, which he called the "linchpin and epicenter" of the V.I. economy.
He mentioned cultural theme parks and ecotourism, and said he supports the general principle of ships staying in port longer, but wanted to see legislation being drafted by Sen. Lorraine Berry before passing judgment.
Berry is drafting legislation to allow the cruise ships to open their casinos while docked in St. Thomas as a way to induce the ships to stay in port later, thereby allowing passengers more time to eat
in local restaurants and shop.
Thomas said Carifest, the cultural theme park being put together on 9.3 acres of WICO land in Estate Liverpool, is on hold. Its lease has expired and Carifest didn't renew it, but indicated it may still do so, the Daily News story on the PFA meeting reported Wednesday.
Thomas reported that WICO is on track with changes to accommodate the new mega-cruise ships now being built. Completion of the breasting dolphins at the WICO dock is a significant step in that direction, he said.
Thomas also said passengers would have a better experience in St. Thomas if cruise ships were more evenly distributed between Crown Bay and the WICO dock.
Turnbull said every effort must be made to turn cruise ship passengers into overnight guests and suggested forming a commission to evaluate bids for a V.I. airline. Thomas said he favors the Virgin Islands owning its own airline and said the PFA, WICO and V.I. Port Authority should financially help a private carrier.

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