Tourists are back

A Beaconite who returned to the territory last week via ferry after two months in the United States couldn’t believe the change. When she left, tourist traffic was a trickle. But last week, both her flight to St. Thomas and the airport were full to the brim, and it has been two years since she’s seen the ferry to Tortola so crowded. People seemed excited to be back travelling after many months stuck at home, with long-time visitors clambering to the top of the ferry to point out areas of interest to their travelling companions as the boat entered the channel. Even the entry process for vaccinated travellers has been massively simplified. Arrivals, with the help of QR codes, are getting tested and sent on their way within 15 minutes. Meanwhile, friends who own shops and other businesses serving tourists say sales have picked up dramatically in the few months since she left, and charter yacht companies say they’re booked up. The tourist season in the Virgin Islands has begun, and it’s looking bright.

 

Freedom of info

A Beaconite was pleased to hear the premier say in the House of Assembly last week that lawmakers will be moving forward with freedom-of-information legislation. Having worked in both public relations and as a journalist, the reporter knows the importance of such laws to a well-functioning society. Strong guiding legislation provides an invaluable tool to citizens and journalists to hold the powerful accountable. It also helps government employees know exactly what information they can disclose and in what manner, providing greater protection for sensitive data. Certain information will always need to be protected, like matters of national security. But the passage of a solid freedom-of-information act would be a massive leap in the right direction to reaffirm the public’s trust in government and pave the way to self-determination. After all, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War claims, “Leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage, and sternness.” (Thanks, book club). The Beaconite hopes that the promised bill comes swiftly and sees a healthy amount of debate.

 

Piece of history

On Tuesday, a Beaconite covered a ceremony that commemorated the day in 1943 when Royal Navy sailors washed ashore at Saddle Bay in Jost Van Dyke after their ship was torpedoed by German submarines during World War II (see page one). During the event, she learned about about the Battle of the Caribbean Sea, when German and Italian submarines sank ships in the sea and the Gulf of Mexico in order to disrupt the Allied supply of oil and other materials. Hundreds of boats were sunk by submarines, while only 12 U-boats were lost. She was heartened to learn that the family of one of the survivors has travelled to the territory twice so far and plans to continue to keep ties with Jost Van Dyke. She was also pleased to see residents welcome the descendants of one of the survivors with open arms and an invitation to return. Oral history is very important in Virgin Islands culture, and to see it alive across generations and across international lines speaks to the tradition.

 

Birthday surprise

Last Thursday night, as a Beaconite was doing a little reflection about his 24th year coming to a close, he received a surprise message from a WhatsApp group. The contract for the Anegada solar project would be signed the next day around 8 a.m. The project had for months seemed dead in the water, and as the Beaconite had spent the better part of his 24th year reporting on that project and the American solar developer behind it (at least it feels that way), it seemed like some sort of cosmic joke that the contract, delayed by about 16 months, would be signed the morning of his birthday. Luckily, attending that press conference was not the only way the Beaconite spent the day. After being treated by his parents to a massage, he had dinner overlooking Carrot and Apple bays with some of his best friends, feeling contented for the year that had just passed and excited for the one that had just begun.

 


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