The leaders of both the British and US Virgin Islands discussed areas of shared interest and ways to enhance the relationship between the U.S. and the British Virgin Islands Tuesday in Road Town, Tortola during the 8th meeting of the Inter-Virgin Islands Council (IVIC).
Tuesday’s meeting was the first since hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated both territories in 2017 and the first of both Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew Fahie and Governor Albert Bryan of the United States Virgin Islands respective administrations.
Both leaders, in their opening remarks, noted the cultural and familial ties shared between residents of the BVI and USVI and stressed the importance of IVIC working collaboratively to enhance visitor experiences, strengthen border security and capitalize on opportunities for economic growth.
“I am pleased that we have been able to ventilate several areas, and we handled complicated topics because we stayed in oneness in purpose for the Greater Virgin Islands,” Premier Fahie said.
The Premier stated, “One of the things coming out of this meeting is there will be no business as usual, but business unusual. This means that our standing committees will meet once a month to ensure that we iron out the areas we have in common and work out the grey areas where there are differences. The objective is for the committees to work together so that in the next couple of months, we can come up with solutions ahead of the meeting next year. We have stated now that we want a Greater Virgin Islands, and we will work towards that direction.”
“We had a very productive day going over a variety of issues that will be mutually beneficial to our people,” Governor Bryan said. He added, “The one thing that is key is the strong familial ties that lie between the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and our constant commitment to ensure that our people are resilient in the face of our challenges and that we can take advantage of the possibilities and opportunities of a collaborative Greater Virgin Islands.”.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the Council discussed tourism strategies and the potential for regional collaboration on tourism marketing, airport and seaport development, inter-territorial cooperation between charter yacht companies, border security, fisheries, and response to the potential threat of Coronavirus.
The IVIC, which is the formal side of the USVI-BVI relationship, brings together the Governor of the USVI and the Premier of the BVI, as well as key policymakers in their cabinets to explore ways to enhance the relations between the BVI and USVI.
Premier Fahie and Governor Bryan both serve as co-chairs of the Council, which is comprised of 12 standing committees.
The Council’s Committee on Tourism, comprised of officials from the USVI Department of Tourism, U.S. Virgin Islands Port Authority and the BVI Tourist Board presented reports on tourism development plans including enhancement projects underway at the Cyril E. King airport and Red Hook Ferry Terminal in St. Thomas as well as the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport and Gallows Bay Ferry Terminal in St. Croix. The committee also discussed the potential for joint tourism initiatives.
Representatives of the USVI Marine Council, the USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources, and officials from the BVI’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries, and Agriculture discussed ways to enhance cooperation and communication of policies.
Premier Fahie and Governor Bryan both agreed to assign a representative to lead monthly meetings of the Council’s 12 standing committees for closer coordination toward addressing the shared goals of both territories.
The Inter Virgin Islands Council was established on Saturday, May 29, 2004, when former USVI Governor, Dr. Charles Turnbull and Chief Minister, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding. The Council’s first meeting convened on St. Croix in April 2005.