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OECS Meets On Yachting Security

by Leroy Baker,, New York

10 October 2006

The 4th Meeting of the OECS Council of Tourism Ministers took place last week, with safety and security of the yachting sector as one of its key themes. The meeting was held in the Puerto Rican city of Caguas.

The OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) has seven full members: Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands are associate members of the OECS.

Several OECS members are significant yachting centres, with the British Virgin Islands being perhaps the most prominent. Said Dr Orlando Smith, the BVI's Chief Minister and Minister for Tourism: “Yachting represents a large part of the BVI’s tourism product and it is important for me to come together with other OECS tourism ministers to determine the most effective ways of preventing problems from arising.”

The BVI has developed a very strong business in yachts, to the exclusion of most other types of shipping. Large numbers of private yachts are registered in the BVI, and many of them take part in the highly successful yacht chartering business which forms a major part of the BVI's appeal to visitors.

Last month saw the re-launch of the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (VISR), fulfilling the conditions for Category One membership of the UK's Red Ensign registry group, enabling the registration of larger vessels.

“Even today many of our people are involved in the ferry industry, charter yacht sector, power boating, and the delivery of cargo. The shipping registry will be instrumental in promoting safety at sea and controlling and preventing marine pollution,” the Chief Minister said.

The new Virgin Islands Shipping Registry was created through a merger of the Shipping Registry Division of the BVI Financial Services Commission and the Marine Unit of the Ministry of Communications and Works.

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