Hotels Want It All

Letter to Editor:

In response to Ben Chan’s February 16, 2007 opinion, my February 12, 2007 Guest Opinion was my personal opinion. I disclosed my representation of V.I. Taxi Association to dispel allegations that I may have ulterior motives. In answer to your questions, yes, Attorney Chan, there is more than meets the eye. I have, do, and will continue to also represent local environmental groups.

Ride sharing is endorsed world wide to reduce air pollution, traffic congestion, and greenhouse emissions. My suggestion is that the V.I. already has the solution, but perhaps we need to change our approach. As far as water taxis, V.I. Taxi Association met with the 26th Legislature a year ago and discussed the water taxi issue — it is the 26th Legislature that chose to put the issue on the back burner.

The troubling aspect is not implementing water taxis, but the hotels’ wholesale encroachment into every aspect of the local tourism industry — including water taxis. Many of these hotels enjoy certain financial incentives (no property tax, 90% reduction of income tax, exemptions from gross receipts) for the purpose of fostering and promoting economic growth supporting local business. Many of these hotels are not satisfied with these generous tax incentives — they want it all. This is a small community and left unchecked, we will all feel the effects. Finally, Attorney Chan, V.I. Taxi Association welcomes the opportunity to sit down and discuss these issues with you and your client, the Westin, a Starwood Resort.                                               

Terri Griffiths, 
Attorney for V.I. Taxi Association