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Thursday, June 13, 2024


April 12, 2001 — Tourism indicators continue to show healthy increases, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said in his Easter message to the territory.
Citing figures from the Bureau of Economic Research, Turnbull said visitor arrivals in the first three months of 2001 were up 17.3 percent from those of the same period in 2000. Cruise ship arrivals were the strongest, showing a 21 percent increase, while air arrivals were up 4.1 percent. Further, he said, hotel occupancy rates have increased by 5 percent and the number of occupied room nights has increased by 10 percent.
The governor took the opportunity to comment on this week's two-day session at the Legislature. In considering the bills passed, he said, "I will not be guided by the number of yes votes for any measure to determine whether I approve or disapprove any bill passed; I will be guided by what I know to be right."
He said the override of his veto of the Drake's Seat vendors bill "regrettably places the Legislature in the awkward position of having to represent itself before the courts in the near future, if the Wheaton family continues to oppose the continuation of commercial activity on its property."
The statement was a clear signal that the executive branch will not represent the government in any such action. While many senators have taken up the cause of vendors selling T-shirts and other tourist items at the scenic overlook, the administration has told them they may not sell there because doing so is a violation of an easement that prohibits commercial activity.
"I have always stated that my sympathies are with the vendors, but doing what is right for all the people must always come first," Turnbull said.
The governor also expressed disappointment that business leaders in the hospitality industry declined to accept appointments to his new Tourism Advisory Committee. He created the committee at the same time he vetoed the industry-backed establishment of a semi-autonomous public/private Tourism Authority that would have replaced the government-run Tourism Department. Business leaders said they have worked before in such an advisory capacity and found it fruitless. They also said that Turnbull announced the appointed of people to the committee without speaking with them first.
Turnbull said, "We hope these tourism partners will reconsider unnecessarily shutting themselves away from the discussion table."
Again referring to the legislative session, the governor said he was pleased with the confirmation of three of his recent appointments: Pamela Richards, commissioner of Tourism; Louis Willis, director of the Bureau of Internal Revenue; and Austin Andrews, executive director of the V.I. Lottery.
Turnbull concluded his address with notes on the holiday:
"This is a season of peace and introspection. As we observe the Easter season, I extend my best wishes and greetings to all residents of the territory … Let this be a time that we resolve to work together in an effort to enhance the lives of all residents of the territory."

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