Tourist Board clamps down on boat operators
For many years, boat operators in Port Royal have been earning big dollars from offering rides to Lime Cay.
However, some now believe that their livelihood is being threatened as they are now being forced to meet certain requirements for next year.
According to Desmond Williams, who has been operating for more than 15 years, there is now a long list of requirements they must satisfy to be deemed lawful.
"The tourist board had a meeting with us the other day. They said if we want to carry people when guests come in 2020, we have to be properly licensed and insured. Dem seh we afi get all these things together fi the new year, so when police stop we and ask for certain documents, we can show them and continue work so we can eat a food," he said.
He said the Jamaica Tourist Board also mandated that each boat must have a captain and a mate on all trips.
"Dem seh the mate has to have a lifeguard licence also. So if somebody tek sick pon the boat, he should be able to perform CPR," he said. "Dis kinda beneficial fi we and the tour guides, because if there is an accident and one of our passengers is affected, a less problem that fi we if we well licensed and have we necessary documents. If something happen and we no straight, we a go put we self ina serious problems."
But another boat man said there is no guarantee that they will earn the money they spent to license and insure their boats.
"Right now we a pool up fi sort out the licence thing. But all a we caa dweet because it costly. What guarantee we have when we do all of this? Are we going to get business fi make back our money? Dis is really a risk. Is a gamble really. Suppose me go register and pay up all kinda money and den me nah see back my money? Dat mean me lose," he said.
He noted that depending on the size of the boat, a guide may have to pay up to $100,000 annually.
"Then, the different licence is about $15,000 and dem a seh we a fi be a registered taxpayer. Dat rough cause right now business slow," he said.