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Old 06-11-2008, 07:08 PM   #1
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This is really bad news for cruisers in the BVI's - new exorbitant fees. What are they trying to do to us? Keep us away?

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Old 06-12-2008, 12:46 AM   #2
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Although it's promulgated by the Ports Authority, and refers to "harbours" and "facilities", making one think of cruise ships and freighters, it seems to be applicable to any non-BVI owned/registered vessel over 15' in length. My 38 footer would cost almost $600 US for a month!
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Old 06-12-2008, 04:35 AM   #3
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I sure hope that the BVIs have shot themselves in the foot with this trick. The charter boats registered in the BVIs rather than the USVIs won't suffer and I wouldn't be surprised if this regulation might have been either initiated by the charter boat companies, or at the least vigorously supported by them. I cannot imagine that the cruising yachts, though, would be foolish enough to part with so much cold hard cash to cruise the BVIs when there are so many wonderful islands in the Caribbean that don't try to extract so much cash from its visitors and were already so much cheaper.

As an aside, when Peter and I were cruising in the Caribbean, we used to make a run up to the VIs for a couple weeks every Spring to visit friends there. In St. Martin I used to shop for groceries almost exclusively on the French side. When I had to buy a few groceries in the BVIs while we were there, the cost of my miniscule bag of groceries was so surprisingly high compared to a bag of groceries in St. Martin, which always included at least a piece of pate and brie, that I asked the checkout clerk to recalculate the bill. It didn't change at all. The prices were inflated by duties and local taxes which I guess have become insufficient to support the local bureaucrats' anticipated lifestyle.

I hope that the cruisers and the cruise ships will stay away for an entire season in response to this legislated piracy. There will be a lot of businesses that will suffer. I don't know whether many cruise ships visit the BVIs, but considering the size of modern cruise ships, it wouldn't take too many changes of itinerary for the local businesses to feel it in their pocketbook.

When Peter and I checked into the Bahamas in Bimini this April, we were surprised at how empty the marinas were. The weekend trippers and sportfishermen just might be balking at too many $350 entry fees in a year, though I'm fairly confident that the increase in the price of fuel has even more to do with it. My observations lead me to believe that most governments aren't as quick-witted or sensible enough to think the way merchandisers do; reduce some costs for the consumer to make up for the higher costs that are unavoidable in order to encourage them to continue to buy their products.

"We want you back" starts with making changes that encourage people to come back.

IMO, FWIW.
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Old 06-15-2008, 05:00 AM   #4
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Hi Guys

I don't know anything about the BVI's, but I have been reading cruising yachts blogs and the info here. I've got a question.

Is this a world wide shake up of country entry costs? or for that matter a shake up of anything marine. I don't know if I have got this right because I'm only remembering things I've read over the last six months.

I recall Increases in Panama, Fiji, Indonesia, Chagos in early 2007, entry to OZ (this is apparently a big one) and the Queensland Australia government (where I live) has just increased boat registration on a sliding scale up to 45%. the bigger the boat the more you pay. I'm sure there's others.

OR

Is it responsible government increasing fees and taxes to offset their costs due to world wide increase in oil and food prices.

The one thing I do know is that the $20,000 pa cruising income I thought would be ample is fast being inadequate. So I will definitely not be going to BVI at a $1000/mth or even Chagos at $200/mth (oz $) and I'm sure there will be others to add.

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Old 06-15-2008, 05:33 PM   #5
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Surprisingly to me, people on yachts are considered wealthy and apparently fair game for governments to extract more money from. However, the issues are probably different in different locations, and the yachties attitude might also need to be adjusted. At times I think that yachties work far too hard at being cheap, and squeal too loudly about all these fees they have to pay to enjoy their lifestyle.

The Caribbean is the playground, primarily, of North America and Western Europe, where the overwhelming majority arrive by air or cruise ship. I think that in the BVIs one intent of the new fee structure is to encourage that the bareboat charter companies continue to base themselves in the BVIs, and that's a special interest law that I will always resist. The primary income, though, will come from the cruise ships, as the Bahamas learned decades ago. Cruise ship companies are better able to spread the costs over their huge passenger roster (some of the cruise ships are indeed behemoths with up to 3,000 (!) passengers - see http://travelcal.traveltalkonline.com/cruzpass.html ). For this reason, their huge clout is not used effectively because I think that they just don't care!

Australia has always charged entry fees that other countries didn't. When we first obtained a visa to enter Australia I was amazed that Oz charged US citizens the same for a visa as they charged other countries, when the US did not charge Australians a fee for a visa to the US. That has changed (turnabout is fair?). Same with quarantine charges. Fortunately the US hasn't also decided to impose copyright protection on its nautical charts the way so many other countries do.

The smaller island countries that aren't cruise ship destinations are probably the ones that impose the majority of fees (though this is probably a gross generalization).

If we're looking at fees proportional to the time and manpower involved in delivering various services, airline passengers provide the majority of income to the various countries with the best cost to return ratio.

Now for my little bit of hyperbole.

Cruisers are people who in their land-based life pay to park their car, cross bridges, travel over certain roads, etc. Some places they are being charged for the grocery bags that the stores provide. Yet when they load all their belongings onto their boat they seem to feel that because they are "cruisers", which most appear to define as being on a limited budget, their "right" to a free and uncharged entry into all countries should be respected, and they howl in outrage over being charged anything at all for their entry into a country.

Though the BVIs charges are absurd, especially since they are aimed exclusively to those arriving by sea, I do not think that cruisers should be exempt from paying their fair share of the cost of a country's customs and immigration expenses as they apply to the entry of foreigners on their boats.

Just my opinion.
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Old 06-15-2008, 09:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeanneP View Post
Cruisers are people who in their land-based life pay to park their car, cross bridges, travel over certain roads, etc. Some places they are being charged for the grocery bags that the stores provide. Yet when they load all their belongings onto their boat they seem to feel that because they are "cruisers", which most appear to define as being on a limited budget, their "right" to a free and uncharged entry into all countries should be respected, and they howl in outrage over being charged anything at all for their entry into a country.
I'm glad you touched upon this since it makes me not feel so alone when explaining just how reasonable these fees really are in comparison to land based life. My monthly parking fees alone in downtown Seattle last year were $260/month, monthly ferry pass $85. That's over $4000/year in basic transportation fees alone. When the myriad of visa and entry fees start approaching those levels then I'll complain, but what's being charged currently, in most places, is comparatively reasonable.

Peoples expectations go a long way in formulating attitudes. I took a friend from California on a cross country road trip a few years ago and he whined and moaned all the way from Illinois to New York because of all the toll fees (since they don't exist except on a very few roads in the Western USA). Funny, he never understood why it was called a 'freeway' instead of an 'expressway' in the western US? More people pointing out the comparative relative value of these fees as you have would go a long way in helping to reshape peoples attitudes....
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Old 06-18-2008, 04:19 PM   #7
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High fees certainly impact decisions to visit places. After my first time in the BVI, when I was unaware of the "by the day" fee calculation and I said 2 weeks and gulped at the fees.....well that combined with the outrageous prices for provisions and at restaurants had coming never coming back. When the Bahamas raised their fees to $300 over 35 feet, I decided to avoid that as well, so I snuck thru the Bahamas, spending a few days waiting for weather for a gulf stream crossing at a small isolated harbor.

I agree that criusers tend to be overly thrifty in their approach to commerce whether or not they have limited resouces. I also think it is the case that we (cruisers) do not have much justification to complain about how countries choose to deal with us even when it comes to the mordida often expected in some areas.

Unfortunately, for places which have commercial tourism, we do not make enough finaincial contribution to have any clout to say have local businesses lobby for fee reduction or bribe elimination in order to ensure our continued patronage....
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Old 06-18-2008, 07:26 PM   #8
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OK This should make everyone happy!!!!!!

I contacted a good (no, great) friend of mine that is the Director of one of the Departments of the BVI Government. She made some calls for me and this was her response by email:

"The new port fees is ONLY applicable to cargo vessels NOT

private vessels. Dean says your fees will NOT change."

Dean by the way is - Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Dean Fahie

We can all still go to the BVI!!!!!!!!!!

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Old 06-18-2008, 07:32 PM   #9
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Welcome aboard Ron.

Thank you for making the effort and for posting the findings. This will certainly make a lot of cruisers happy.
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Old 06-19-2008, 03:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeanneP View Post
Surprisingly to me, people on yachts are considered wealthy and apparently fair game for governments to extract more money from.
Isn't that the truth.

I see many companies such as Audi, BMW, Rolex, etc, getting involved in "sponsoring" or at least putting their advertising up around places frequented and magazines read by people on yachts. That's because they think we have money. Little do they know that we have in fact spent it all, on yachts, and aren't buying their expensive cars or gold watches.

Sad. If I had enough money to buy an expensive car I might get one. Or maybe I'd shell out for the boom bag and lazyjacks I've been wanting, or that new engine with the saildrive and folding prop. Hrm.
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Old 07-03-2008, 09:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron View Post
OK This should make everyone happy!!!!!!

I contacted a good (no, great) friend of mine that is the Director of one of the Departments of the BVI Government. She made some calls for me and this was her response by email:

"The new port fees is ONLY applicable to cargo vessels NOT

private vessels. Dean says your fees will NOT change."

Dean by the way is - Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Dean Fahie

We can all still go to the BVI!!!!!!!!!!
Latest word after a meeting of government officials with several of the boating interests Tuesday July 1 was that ANY boat entering BVI waters that is not registered in the BVI will have to pay the fee on entry to the Customs officer. You pay for your estimated length of stay. No refunds if you leave early and you pay $1/ft/day for any days you overstay when you check out. Days on the hard don't count. Stay for the whole 6 month season on a 45' boat will set you back $4,130 plus the $400 temporary import duty.

As always with the BVI government this is subject to change several times before and after it goes in effect on July 15.
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Old 07-03-2008, 09:22 PM   #12
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@Gashmore

Thank you for the latest news on this issue.
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Old 07-04-2008, 04:12 PM   #13
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On the more optimistic side the BVI Tourism Board is very concerned and held a meeting Wednesday with several representatives of the yacht service industry. There is supposed to be another meeting today with the Chamber of Commerce/Hotel association to press the matter further. As I understand it the new fees were imposed without any feedback from the tourism or marine community and they are just now trying to get a handle on the potential damage.

The Caribbean 1500 has sent notice that if the fee is imposed they will not use the BVI as the destination in November. The marina operators are close to panic and a number of long term cruisers are making plans to head south early to avoid the fee. No clear indication how it will effect US documented vessels in the bareboat fleet yet.

To further degrade the appeal of the islands the current administration is working hard to increase the cruise ship trade. They are lengthening the cruise ship pier and upgrading the moorings to handle the new generation of 200,000+ ton 5,000+ passenger ships. This will make most of the beaches on Tortola and Virgin Gorda untenable. THe odd thing is the fee is based on LOA rather than tonnage. The cruise ships will pay about half a cent per ton while a cruiser will pay $2 to $4 a ton.

Taken together it does not look good for the BVI marine industry but I do not believe the last word has been said on this matter yet.
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Old 07-04-2008, 05:47 PM   #14
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Please keep us updated!
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