I am a marine business owner as well as being involved in the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival and the Royal BVI Yacht Club.

It seems the non-marine population of the Virgin Islands doesn’t appreciate the economic impact of our industry on the local economy, nor how many people working or otherwise being supported by our industry are voters.

The marine industry and the businesses it supports are the largest employers after government. The majority of these companies are owned by voters, and many of the employees are also voters. In my company, we have 10 employees, seven of whom are voters.

The bareboat class at Spring Regatta — which had 27 entries until the VI Shipping Registry and Her Majesty’s Customs seized dozens of yachts — would have left in our economy, not counting the fee to charter the boats and airfares, about $400,000. Besides provisioning, the crews would have been eating out each night, buying libations, using taxis, renting hotel rooms for the overflow crew and renting vehicles — all supporting local businesses.

Our non-bareboat competitors, racing boats with no accommodation, are renting villas and vehicles and chartering taxi vans, in all contributing $3-4 million to the economy. Many of these boats, with their paid crews, have been here for two to three weeks prepping their boats, using the boat yard, staying in hotels, and eating out every night.

The BVI Spring Regatta is the largest sports tourism and international event in the VI, and it is internationally renowned for the location, sailing conditions, and the excellence of the regatta management. The publicity for the event is year-round, sharing news and photos and keeping the VI alive in sailors’ minds. Through diverse publications outside the sailing community, it awakens interest in the territory.

Besides the boost to our economy, the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival is a great public relations vehicle.