The marketing of Virgin Islands-based charteryacht vacations to the world, working towards repeal of the restrictive ‘six-pack’ law, and strengthening the marine industry’s contribution to the local economy both in revenues and jobs are all formidable endeavors. Yet, this is just a sampling of what the Virgin Islands Charteryacht League’s new director, Erik Ackerson, has heaped on his plate…for starters.
A native of Kansas City where he worked as a professional chef and then food service territory sales manager, Ackerson moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1988. He took the reins as general manager of wholesaler Quality Food Corporation on St. Thomas and held this position until the business was sold last year.
Community service has long figured prominently in Ackerson’s free time. He’s currently president of the Texas Society of the Virgin Islands which holds one of the largest and most popular fundraising events of the year, a Chili Cookoff. As a Water Island resident, he is a member of the island’s Search and Rescue, Civic Association and Navy League as well as a Red Cross volunteer. When not enjoying a swim at Honeymoon Beach, painting watercolors or reading, he is out cutting back the jungle and beautifying the landscape of the Harbour View Gardens Bed & Breakfast.
“My major responsibility is to reposition the organization’s marketable presence, not only here in the Virgin Islands but throughout the worldwide charter brokerage community,” says Ackerson. “While I am the point of contact for membership information, it is also my job to keep ahead of all of the new changes concerning the marine industry such as new Federal or Territorial regulations, new BVI chartering developments, Department of Tourism promotions, et cetera.”
Ackerson’s plans call for this fall’s charteryacht show, set for November 10-12, to be larger and more highly promoted than in the past. Beyond this, he adds, “I’ve picked up the banner for the repeal of CFR 33, the ‘six-pack law’. We are losing much needed tourism dollars to the BVI by not being able to pick up more than six passengers at one time while in U.S. waters. It inhibits the growth of larger charter boats in our area and affects our local economy through its enforcement.”
According to Ackerson, the U.S. Virgin Islands marine industry accounts for roughly 11 percent of the territory’s tourism dollar. “With the economical effects of rising fuel charges, air flight rescheduling, and a decline in U.S. consumer confidence, it is in the best interests of everyone related to our industry, be they diesel mechanics, sail makers, boat builders or food provisioners, to join forces and cross market themselves through organizations such as the VICL. It is only by joining forces and working as a cohesive team that we can insure the continued growth of the charteryacht industry.”