The U.S. Virgin Islands needs to get its act together soon with regard to recreational marine development. Taking the time necessary to wait for the powers that be to get off their thumbs and "approve" or "disapprove" certain waterfront development in a reasonable time will cause the territory to miss the boat — literally and per usual.
There are two large, new marina facilities scheduled for construction and opening in St. Martin in the immediate future. One will be on the Dutch side and one in Marigot on the French side. Sint Maarten/St. Martin, recognizing the cost of development of cruise ship facilities and the traffic and problems it creates, has refocused its efforts to bring in luxury and recreational yachts to enhance business.
What business? Fuel sales, provisioning, retail, car rentals — you name it. The marine industry is an industry that puts little strain on local infrastructure — none whatsoever on schools, etc., yet spends at least as much money a week as any of us who live here spend on the small boats — probably more.
Charlotte Amalie Harbor could be lined with megayachts spending tens of thousands of dollars weekly during the high season. St. Martin knows this, and that's why they're focusing on developing the marine industry, rather than the cruise industry.
Why are there 1,000 yachts in Road Town, all bringing charter income into the British Virgin Islands, and — what? — a dozen or so charter boats in Charlotte Amalie Harbor? Road Town Harbor is tiny compared to Charlotte Amalie Harbor.
Want to keep the cruising yachts separated and create some jobs? Develop the cove where that trimaran sits shipwrecked on Hassel Island as a full-service marina. Provide a shuttle service to the waiting cabs over in Frenchtown or the waterfront.
Problem is, under the current attitude, it'll never happen. That's why the charter industry is virtually all in the British Virgin Islands.
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