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HomeNewsArchivesFYI: Donastorg Comments on Tourism Department

FYI: Donastorg Comments on Tourism Department

The following material is being published, unedited, exactly as it was received via e-mail from the office of the government official named below, as a Source community service. Government office holders wishing to contribute to the bulletin board must e-mail source@viaccess.net. The Source reserves the right to choose what is published.
March 14, 2006 – Senator Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg had high praise for the Tourism Department's presentation at the annual Sea Trade Cruise Shipping Convention this week in Miami, Florida.
"The Virgin Islands got it right this year," he said "Commissioner Richards made an excellent presentation."
More than 100 countries and nearly 1000 businesses are represented at the four-day conference for the cruise ship industry, its suppliers and officials from popular ports of call.
Donastorg said his initial meetings at Sea Trade had been productive and that he had raised some important concerns.
"First and foremost the Virgin Islands must negotiate a deal with the cruise lines that incorporates St. Croix," he said. "There are numerous incentives we can offer in order to direct more cruise traffic to the big island and we are simply not doing enough."
The senator said while he wholeheartedly supports the cruise ship industry in the Virgin Islands he remains cognizant of some problems.
"St. Thomas in particular must absorb a huge infrastructural cost associated with hosting so many visitors," he said. "Our roads, our police force, our beaches and the island in general are put under stress when you have so much traffic."
Donastorg said we must strike a balance between the cost of hosting cruise ship passengers and the revenues they bring in.
"This is where we need to carefully examine what is taking place as there has been some erosion of our tax base and local jobs as the industry changes," he said. "For example, many goods and services that tourists once came to the Virgin Islands to acquire are now available on board the ship. For example, these ships now have their own photographers for weddings and other events that take place on St. Thomas. And every ship now has its own liquor and jewelry stores."
The senator said that local businesses pay gross receipts taxes and employ Virgin Islands workers.
"When our own entrepreneurs are shut out it erodes our tax base," he said. "We must keep all these factors in mind when negotiating with the cruise lines."
Donastorg said that ideally the cruise ship industry would become a major sponsor of the planned Territorial Park System.
"The park system will ensure that visitors have safe, clean and unspoiled places to visit here in the Virgin Islands and will help maintain the Territory's status as the world's premier port of call," he said. "I am once again calling on the Governor to appoint nominees to the Territorial Park Trust Fund Board so we can get this extremely important project off the ground."

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