updated 6:19 PM PDT, Sep 5, 2017
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Irma Drawing Near

The Department of Disaster Management announced that Irma will pass very close or over the northern Leeward Islands on Wednesday; first squalls and tropical storm force winds are expected to reach the islands late on Tuesday. “It could move near or over the British Virgin Islands Wednesday afternoon or evening. The track has also been shifted closer to Puerto Rico,” the DDM said.

Additionally, the DDM stated that by Wednesday Irma is expected to make its closest approach to the Leeward and British Virgin Islands as a powerful category 4 hurricane. Based on the current forecast track, the eye of Hurricane Irma is expected to pass approximately 37 miles north east of the British Virgin Islands.

At 5:00 AM today September 4th the eye of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 16.9 North, longitude 52.3 West; and noted that Irma is moving toward the west-southwest near 14 mph (22 km/h). 

The DDM said that the hurricane is expected to turn toward the west later today, followed by a west-northwestward turn late Tuesday.  Meanwhile, it was mentioned that the center of Irma will move closer to the Leeward Islands through Tuesday and then be near the northern Leeward Islands Tuesday night.

Irma is now a category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 115 mph and higher gusts.  Nonetheless, it was stated that some strengthening is forecast through Tuesday night.

This strengthen may result in hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 30 miles (45 km) from the centre; and tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 140 miles (220 km). The estimated minimum central pressure is 961 mb.

As a result hurricane watches are in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, and Sint Maarten, Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy. Meanwhile,  the BVI and other islands such as the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico are being monitored as Irma progresses.

LIAT Tells Passengers to Pay BVI Levy

Last Friday 1st September as the Environmental and Tourism Levy took effect in the Territory, regional airline LIAT informed its passengers that they were required to pay the $10 upon arrival.

The airline, in an advisory issued on Friday told its customers that the Levy is for arriving passengers who are not resident in the territory; and is not included in their ticket price. Therefore, LIAT told the passengers that the Levy will be collected by the Customs Department via cash or credit/debit cards.

The $10.00 Environmental Protection and Tourism Improvement Fund levy that was passed with amendments on April 18th in the House of Assembly. During the presentation of the objects and reasons of the Bill Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith explained that Clause 3 of the Bill calls for visitors to pay a $10.00 fee whether they arrive by air or sea: 

“An environmental levy at the rate of $10 shall be levied on and payable by each visitor arriving in the Virgin Islands by air or sea. A specified sum of money shall be included in the cost of a ticket collected by the owner, master or any agent for any vessel, or by any person through whom passengers are brought into the Virgin Islands,” the Premier said.

This fee, the Premier said will go towards funding environmental protection  efforts and tourism industry needs:  “The Minister shall direct that the monies of the fund be applied towards activities related to environmental protection improvement, climate change and other matters affecting the environment, the maintenance and development of tourism sites and other tourism-related activities throughout the territory, and the marketing of the territory as a premier tourist destination,” Hon. Smith pointed out.

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