Franklin Connor An Influential Voice In Anguilla/St.Martin/St.Maarten Ferry Service

anguillian
By anguillian September 4, 2017 11:26 Updated

 

 

Mr. Conner and other Anguillian ferryboat operators

Mr. Conner and other Anguillian ferryboat operators

Following his long and successful public service career in the Ministry of Finance, the late Mr. Franklin B. Connor OBE, was both an influential voice in the ferry service operated between Anguilla, French St.Martin and Dutch St.Maarten, but had revolutionized and improved the service with his catamaran boat, the Link Cat and later Link Two.

Many of the ferryboat operators in Anguilla looked up to him to promote and defend their interests and he spoke on his behalf and others. In January 2012, for instance, he was a strong voice when the Governments of Anguilla and Dutch St.Maarten undertook to build a port facility at Simpson Bay to accommodate the Anguilla ferries and visitors travelling to Anguilla from abroad.

The following is an article written by The Anguillian newspaper in January 2012 when Mr. Connor led other ferryboat operators in a discussion on the matter with the Anguilla Tourist Board.

FERRY OPERATORS QUERY SIMPSON BAY DOCK

The docking facility to be built at the Simpson Bay Lagoon in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, by the Anguilla Government, with the cooperation of the Dutch Government there, has generated much discussion in Anguilla among operators of regular ferries to Marigot, St. Martin, charter boats and special shuttles to Philipsburg.

It was the first meeting held by the Tourist Board, late last week, to inform the boat operators about the planned consolidation of the docking and immigration facilities in Simpson Bay. The arrangement is aimed at making the transfer of visitors arriving at Juliana Airport and travelling to Anguilla by boat easier and quicker.

Under the plan, the Anguilla Government and the St. Maarten Government are to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to build the docking facility. The lease agreement, with a private entity, is to entail the lease of property by the Anguilla Government to construct and operate the docking facility. The start-up cost is not to exceed EC$289,314; and recurrent cost not to exceed $390,886. It is estimated that the dock, to be managed by Leslie Lloyd, on behalf of the Anguilla Government and the Tourist Board, will accommodate up to seven boats at a time.“The purpose of this dock is to move passengers seamlessly to and from Anguilla,” Mr. Lloyd explained at the meeting.

Chairman of the Anguilla Tourist Board, Eustace Guishard, told the meeting: “We are reacting as a result of the challenges and negative reports that are coming back to us from travel agents and guests [about the long delays to get to Anguilla]. We are going to have more meetings because the intention of the Tourist Board is to make sure that everybody is comfortable with whatever decisions are made. At the end of the day, our job is to facilitate our guests coming to us through St. Maarten to Anguilla. We have a major challenge in the marketplace in that there are problems of access to Anguilla, and a lot of our visitors don’t like to travel through St. Maarten because of the challenges they have transferring to Anguilla.”

A number of operators of charter boats, special shuttles (run by hotels) and regular ferryboats attended the meeting in which many of them participated with raised voices. Those at the meeting included owners, captains or crew members of Link Ferries, Shauna, GB Express, Diamond1, Funtime, Deluxe, Teezec and shuttle boats from a few hotels.

Some of regular ferry operators, in particular, argued that they should have been officially told about the Anguilla Government’s decision to build the docking facility at Simpson Bay, rather than hearing it “on the street”; that only the charter and shuttle boats there would benefit from the docking facility; and that no thought was given to improve the transfer of passengers to the French side (at Marigot) where there was an established ferry service to Anguilla. One of the irate ferryboat operators walked out of the meeting in disgust after arguing his case.
One of the main ferryboat speakers, Franklin Connor, said he was worried because it appeared as though the docking facility was being provided with some boats in mind and not others. “Why can’t we, for example, put in a scheduled bus service to take passengers as they arrive to Marigot for the regular ferryboats?” he went on. “But if you do that, you kill the charter boats. Instead, the option is to do something for the charter boats which kill the regular ferryboats.”

Mr. Connor noted that only charter and shuttle boats of a certain high standard were being admitted to operate in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, and were at liberty to charge very high fares (probably up to US$100) compared with US$35 charged by regular ferry boats travelling to Philipsburg, or US$15 to Marigot. He said: “If a ferry was permitted to charge 100 dollars, like a charter boat is allowed to do for persons to get to Anguilla, then such ferryboat operators can put in golden seats, but they are limited to 15 dollars…If a shuttle operator decides he will charge 90 instead of 70 dollars, he does so without asking anybody. How in God’s Heaven can you expect a boat that collects 15 dollars per passenger to put in towels and sheets and complimentary drinks on board, when the other boats charge 100 dollars? Permit the ferries to charge 100 dollars and we will put in champagne, free drinks and golden seats.”

Leslie Lloyd, who attended the meeting in his capacity as being involved in the facility, said it was not in his place, or that of the Tourist Board, to tell the charter or shuttle boat operators what fare they should charge. “We are talking about apples and oranges,” he added. “We are talking about service to the French side and service to the Dutch side.”

Parliamentary Secretary, Tourism, Haydn Hughes, commented: “Irrespective of what you think about the meeting, I think that Mr. Connor brought up a very important point and it is something that the ferryboat operators need to bring to the Government of Anguilla to see how best we can handle this. If ferries are not operating, it will impact us negatively. We need to have the ferries operating and to ensure that they are profitable in order to upgrade their services, because nobody is going to invest [to improve his or her boat] unless he or she is making money.”

A second meeting is being organised to include all operators of ferryboat, charter and shuttle services, as well as hoteliers, for further discussion aimed at resolving the various differences and misunderstandings demonstrated at last week’s initial meeting.

anguillian
By anguillian September 4, 2017 11:26 Updated

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