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HomeNewsArchivesBILL WOULD END WATER-TOUR PICKUP ON DOCKS

BILL WOULD END WATER-TOUR PICKUP ON DOCKS

Sept. 13, 2001 – If a bill now wending its way through the legislative process becomes law, water-tour operators accustomed to picking up tour takers at the cruise ship docks on St. Thomas and St. Croix will have to come up with other arrangements.
The Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee, chaired by Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole, is scheduled to take up the measure at 10 a.m. Oct. 3 at the Legislature Building on St. Thomas.
The bill, sponsored by Sens. Celestino White and Norma Pickard-Samuel, would prohibit water-tour operators from meeting tourists at the West Indian Co. and Crown Bay docks on St. Thomas, the Ann Abramson Pier in Frederiksted and the Gallows Bay dock in Christiansted.
"It's to level the playing field," White said.
He said that taxi drivers aren't getting a fair share of the pie. They leave their houses at 2 a.m. to line up at the WICO dock in the hope of getting passengers, he said, but instead see many of those disembarking from the ships make a short walk to tour vessels tied up at the dock.
Eustace Grant, president of the V.I. Taxi Association, said taxi drivers fear that water tours will expand to include water taxis and this would further decrease the number of people who need vehicular taxi rides."We may be eased out of our livelihood," he said.
Grant suggested that taxi drivers transport water-tour participants to the Charlotte Amalie waterfront, where the tour operators would pick them up. White said water-tour operators would be allowed to tie up to the cruise ships in order to pick up passengers. He pointed out that the tour companies now pick up passengers off cruise ships anchored out in the Charlotte Amalie harbor in this way.
Tour operators see the bill as a threat to their industry and are angry about it.
Steve Garner, who owns ScubaWest in Frederiksted, pointed out that his tour boats are too small to carry out that kind of linkup with the huge cruise liners. Others similarly spoke of the logistical problems of picking up passengers directly from the ships.
"I hold the senators personally responsible for tourism in the Virgin Islands," St. Thomas tour operator Jimmy Loveland said.
Scott Short, manager of the Yacht Haven-based Underwater Safaris, picks up passengers at the WICO dock, by far the busiest of the territory's cruise ship docking facilities. "And we have all our equipment stored there," he said.
Short said that if his staff has to walk tour passengers around to the nearby Yacht Haven docks from the WICO dock, they will have to pass through construction debris, which is not desirable.
Garner said the effect of the bill would be to shut down his business. He said that in addition to cruise ship passengers, he often takes hotels guests on dive trips. There are no other docks in the area, so he must pick them up in his boat at the Ann Abramson Pier in Frederiksted, he said. It would be unsafe to ask people to swim out to the dive boat to board it for their excursion, he added.
Garner discounted taxi drivers' complaint that they don't get a fair share of cruise ship passenger revenues. He said the drivers already have a monopoly at the Frederiksted pier. "I've heard them tell people that there's no diving or snorkeling in Frederiksted — so they could get the fare to Christiansted," he said.
Short said that on a busy day, Underwater Safaris takes about 125 cruise ship passengers diving. He said that tour operators with larger vessels like the Kon Tiki barge, the Leyland Sneed motor vessel and the Island Girl and Wild Thing catamarans, as well as about 30 sailboats, now pick up passengers at the WICO dock.

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Sept. 13, 2001 - If a bill now wending its way through the legislative process becomes law, water-tour operators accustomed to picking up tour takers at the cruise ship docks on St. Thomas and St. Croix will have to come up with other arrangements.
The Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee, chaired by Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole, is scheduled to take up the measure at 10 a.m. Oct. 3 at the Legislature Building on St. Thomas.
The bill, sponsored by Sens. Celestino White and Norma Pickard-Samuel, would prohibit water-tour operators from meeting tourists at the West Indian Co. and Crown Bay docks on St. Thomas, the Ann Abramson Pier in Frederiksted and the Gallows Bay dock in Christiansted.
"It's to level the playing field," White said.
He said that taxi drivers aren't getting a fair share of the pie. They leave their houses at 2 a.m. to line up at the WICO dock in the hope of getting passengers, he said, but instead see many of those disembarking from the ships make a short walk to tour vessels tied up at the dock.
Eustace Grant, president of the V.I. Taxi Association, said taxi drivers fear that water tours will expand to include water taxis and this would further decrease the number of people who need vehicular taxi rides."We may be eased out of our livelihood," he said.
Grant suggested that taxi drivers transport water-tour participants to the Charlotte Amalie waterfront, where the tour operators would pick them up. White said water-tour operators would be allowed to tie up to the cruise ships in order to pick up passengers. He pointed out that the tour companies now pick up passengers off cruise ships anchored out in the Charlotte Amalie harbor in this way.
Tour operators see the bill as a threat to their industry and are angry about it.
Steve Garner, who owns ScubaWest in Frederiksted, pointed out that his tour boats are too small to carry out that kind of linkup with the huge cruise liners. Others similarly spoke of the logistical problems of picking up passengers directly from the ships.
"I hold the senators personally responsible for tourism in the Virgin Islands," St. Thomas tour operator Jimmy Loveland said.
Scott Short, manager of the Yacht Haven-based Underwater Safaris, picks up passengers at the WICO dock, by far the busiest of the territory's cruise ship docking facilities. "And we have all our equipment stored there," he said.
Short said that if his staff has to walk tour passengers around to the nearby Yacht Haven docks from the WICO dock, they will have to pass through construction debris, which is not desirable.
Garner said the effect of the bill would be to shut down his business. He said that in addition to cruise ship passengers, he often takes hotels guests on dive trips. There are no other docks in the area, so he must pick them up in his boat at the Ann Abramson Pier in Frederiksted, he said. It would be unsafe to ask people to swim out to the dive boat to board it for their excursion, he added.
Garner discounted taxi drivers' complaint that they don't get a fair share of cruise ship passenger revenues. He said the drivers already have a monopoly at the Frederiksted pier. "I've heard them tell people that there's no diving or snorkeling in Frederiksted -- so they could get the fare to Christiansted," he said.
Short said that on a busy day, Underwater Safaris takes about 125 cruise ship passengers diving. He said that tour operators with larger vessels like the Kon Tiki barge, the Leyland Sneed motor vessel and the Island Girl and Wild Thing catamarans, as well as about 30 sailboats, now pick up passengers at the WICO dock.