Hotel owners and managers voiced concerns about tedious licensing processes during a BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association meeting last Thursday afternoon where three hotels and other businesses were represented.

“We believe the hospitality community has a voice, but we also have needs,” said Chaunci Cline, BVICCHA hospitality manager.

As the private sector is “coming back to [its] footing” after Hurricane Irma, she said, working together to overcome challenges involves addressing issues and creating solutions.

Hotel owners complained about the requirement to acquire several licences to stay in operation.

Ms. Cline said the BVICCHA has discussed a “one-stop shop” for all licences, providing a seamless application process as well as the option to apply for multi-year licences.

Liquor licence law

A proposal for alterations to liquor licences is “on its way” to the House of Assembly, she added.

Lawmakers introduced the Liquor Licences Act, 2018, to the HOA after it was approved by Cabinet in December. If passed, the act would grant liquor vendors longer licensing periods but also institute higher rates.

The bill would extend licensing periods from six months to one year and establish a licensing board to make decisions on liquor licence applications and renewals.

Currently, liquor licence holders have to appear before a licensing magistrate on two specific days out of the year to request a permit. To obtain a new licence, they must first submit the form to six different departments, then appear before court with proper documentation, and finally the Inland Revenue Department issues a licence once the fee is paid.

Under the act proposed in 2018, liquor licences would be issued for one year and cost hotels anywhere from $250 to $1,000 depending on the number of rooms in the establishment. This is an increase from fees ranging between $100 and $300.

Meanwhile, a restaurant licence would cost $500, a bar licence $300, and a beer licence $150.

Lawmakers have a long history of pledging to modernise the territory’s liquor licensing laws, including the bill in their legislative agendas in 2014 2016 and 2018.

Since the general election on Feb. 25, however, the bill has not been reintroduced.