The recently formed Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association (VIPCA) will operate its first annual VIPCA Charter Yacht Show at Yacht Haven Grande in November. A “VI Youth Marine Development Day” at the Yacht Show will invite students across the territory to learn about the potential for employment in all facets of the marine industry. Additionally, the non-profit association and the Gowrie Group are in the final stages of completing crew medical and vessel protection as well s indemnity insurance programs for VIPCA’s vessel and crew members.
The association’s objectives include developing relationships with the governments of the U.S., British and Spanish Virgin Islands, between the people of the Virgin Islands and the marine industry, and within the marine industry itself. In addition, VIPCA looks forward to advocating a positive reputation for the USVI charter industry internationally, and work locally to promote employment and bring attention back to the charter industry at home.
“We are losing talented young people to the U.S mainland, when there are growing opportunities in the USVIs for captains, crew and in all marine businesses and services. In the British Virgin Islands, the marine charter industry is recognized to be more lucrative than the hotel industry and it is actively supported by the BVI Government; sadly, the USVI Government underestimates the potential economic contribution from the marine charter industry and little is done to support it at present,” said Oriel Blake, executive director of VIPCA.
Unlike previous attempts to unite the industry, VIPCA is run by a transparent, elected board of volunteer directors dedicated to growing the charter industry through legislative policy advocacy, compliance guidelines and training opportunities. Currently over 50 charter yachts are members.
Memberships in VIPCA are available to vessels, professional crew, marine and marine-related businesses as well as other local businesses or individuals with an interest in promoting, protecting and furthering the capability of the marine charter industry in the territory.
VIPCA and its membership will run a summer program for V.I. youth next year, with potential for apprenticeships and work placements for students to gain sea time and scholarships for crew qualifications and training across the wide range of marine industry careers. VIPCA looks forward to contributing to marine conservation projects with Blue Flag Global.