US Virgin Islands seeks closer cooperation with its neighboursListen /
The United States Virgin Islands is seeking closer cooperation with the wider Caribbean. And, the Governor of the grouping has been lobbying for observer status within the Caribbean Community-CARICOM.
This was disclosed to UN Radio by Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty in response to the question of cooperation between the US Virgin Islands and its neighbours in the eastern Caribbean.
Doty: OK I'll start first with the British Virgin Islands because that's our closest neighbour. And we have ongoing collaboration with the British Virgin Islands. In fact, twice a year we have a council that meets and we have our counterparts in each area that really look at all of the elements in the government and how we cooperate together. So I certainly will speak with my tourism counterparts but we are also speaking with the counterparts from fish and wildlife, from agriculture, from areas such as Customs and Border protection so that we are collaborating in terms of how we work more closely together. And then expanding out into the wider Caribbean, the Governor has long been lobbying to become an observer to CARICOM because we think it's important to us to be linked with the region as a whole, because we recognize the impact of the region has on us individually. And then bringing it even more closer home, the Virgin Islands happens to be a territory that's made up of groups from throughout the region. If you look at our island of St. Croix, there's a huge St. Lucia population; on St. Thomas, there's a huge Dominican population; we see quite a few recent immigrants from Haiti and the Dominican Republic but throughout the region- you name a Caribbean Island and we certainly have a group in the Virgin Islands so it's imperative for us because people have families; there's linkages throughout the region and also, we need to look at each other as a means of healing ourselves. And it's very important for us to work together in areas such as taxation; airlift is certainly an area that we can collaborate on. Each of us have issues we certainly are singularly working on. However, what we need to focus on is the 80% that affects us all and that makes us stronger as a region.
Donn: How does the future look for the US Virgin Islands?
Doty: You know, I think that we are always optimistic. We believe that the work that we put in; the ground work that we put in, in tourism, in economic development will certainly have fruits to bear, maybe not in the next year or the year after, but we are certainly looking at those elements that we are putting into the infrastructure that makes us a better destination, both for the people that live there – the people of the region and the people that visit us.
NAR: Commissioner of Tourism in the US Virgin Islands Beverly Nicholson-Doty was in New York to update its constituency outside the US Virgin Islands.
This is Donn Bobb reporting.