(V. I. Consortium) ST. THOMAS — With competition from neighboring ports of call increasing, the focus of the second meeting of the Ports of the Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie Task Force held earlier this month, was on advancing plans to improve the experience for cruise ship passengers, according to the Dept. of Tourism, which made known details of the meeting in a release issued Wednesday.
At the heart of the matter, according to Governor Kenneth Mapp, is the need to re-engineer the Virgin Islands product and elevate the guest experience of the destination: “We are competing in a changing, dynamic environment and are in need of a complete shake-up of our business models,” Mr. Mapp said. “We need to develop not only what people want today, but also anticipate their future needs. The key is to respond to visitors even before they realize what they need. That’s what this task force is all about.”
Department of Property and Procurement Commissioner, Lloyd Bough Jr., reported that the deadline for submission of proposals to establish a harbor transportation service in the Charlotte Amalie Harbor had been extended to June 23 because of the strong interest in the contract, and because of the high volume of inquiries and questions the department had handled, including site visits by prospective bidders.
Task force members agreed with the need for the RFP process to allow for multiple operators, possibly operating vessels of varying sizes, and that the contract period should be extended beyond three years in light of the capital investment required. The evaluation and selection process is now expected to be complete by the end of August, contract execution by the end of October, and service possibly implemented by the end of the year.