New York City, 23 Sept 2014 – While in New York City to address the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly on climate change, Prime Minister Christie and First Lady Bernadette Christie attended a reception hosted by United States President, Barak Obama. The reception was held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on Tuesday evening, 23rd September 2014.
Is the glimmer of hope for the nation’s capital fading away?
#TurksandCaicos, September 28, 2021 – Nearly 18 months have past since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, bringing a sudden collapse to the economy in Grand Turk which is the nation’s capital. The island is still reeling from the impact, and hasn’t been in such an economic despair since 2008, during the devastation caused by hurricane Ike.
It never dawned on me how much Grand Turk have become so dependent on the tourists dollars until now. With the pause on the cruise ships embarking on Grand Turk shores, it has impacted hundreds of local jobs and small businesses.
Although a few tourists from the island of Providenciales trickle in, it is not near sufficient revenue to add any sort of real relief to the people of Grand Turk and Salt Cay, many of whom are unable to find jobs to help support their families. For some, the only lifeline is the benefit of having a family member or two, who are employed by the government. The reality is, this is unsustainable if further delay of the cruise ships to Grand Turk continues for much longer.
Cruising has resumed in select Caribbean countries like the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Jamaica and a few others. However, the debacle continues as the cruising industry faces fluid embarkation protocols with international ports, in addition to requiring mandatory vaccination of passengers. Having said that, as much I would like to be optimistic about the imminent return of cruising to Grand Turk, the prospects for 2021 appear pretty bleak.
During the earlier part of this year, some extravagant plans were proposed by the government, with talks of utilizing a portion of the Carnival infrastructure funds to help resuscitate the ailing economy in Grand Turk, but execution appears to be at a standstill.
As the government struggles to find an economic balance to fuel recovery efforts, it would be prudent to keep hope alive on a continuous basis particularly for the people of these two Islands. This can easily be done by providing more regular updates on the progress of talks with Royal Caribbean and Carnival’s executive team.
Public communication should also include a targeted date for reopening of the Grand Turk cruise port and any interim plans to mitigate the loss of employment income. As the summer months drawn down, there are literally very little flow of tourism now. Hoteliers, tour operators and small businesses have taken huge losses and are feeling the punch.
Local government contracts are sparse, and under the current laws of how contracts are awarded, there aren’t enough to go around. Given the nature of this unprecedented virus and prolonged hardship, this may not be the best approach especially for those needing it the most. Therefore, citizens are anxiously awaiting to see what the next big step this administration will take to provide jobs for many of those who are unemployed.
In my opinion, what both political parties have failed to do is to share the wealth, which I think is a huge missed opportunity. With the staggering number of tourists visiting the island of Providenciales on a weekly basis, more could be done to lure tourists to these outer islands.
Among many things, the government could increase the marketing budget abroad, with specific focus on promoting whale watching which is a niche market to Grand Turk and Salt Cay. In addition, promoting the “magnificent wall”, The Wall as it is referred too, is an amazing 7k feet deep ocean shelf, approximately 1000 feet off Grand Turk shore line, a dream for scuba diving enthusiasts. Or perhaps, having on display, posters with names of the outer islands at the international airport. Animation of our brand via promotional videos would also capture travelers attention.
Stakeholders across the travel and tourism sector, can also partner with the local airline operators to offer promotional discounts on airfares and lodging to these particular islands etc. In all likelihood, this would entice more tourists to consider taking a day trip to these outer islands.
How long will the pendulum continue to swing both ways in the nation’s capital, regardless of political parties?
Granted, the newly proposed reforms and projects recently announcement by the Premier, appeared to have given the people of Grand Turk some renewed hope.
Nevertheless, for added accountability, the focus should continue to be on tangible deliverables and timeframe of these ministerial proposals.
My fear is, if cruising doesn’t resume within a reasonable timeframe, we could began to see an uptick in petty crimes. With the trickle down impact, it could also force the closure of more small businesses on the island.
Subsequently, causing an exodus of folks seeking employment elsewhere, which could cause further drain of the talent pool from the Capital.
Concerned Citizen of Grand Turk
Turks and Caicos Islands Releases Preliminary Visitor Statistics, Depicting the Summer of 2021 as One of the Busiest Summers on Record
#TurksandCaicos, September 28, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board, the exclusive tourism authority for the Turks and Caicos Islands, is pleased to announce the preliminary visitor statistics for the destination, clearly depicting that the Islands saw one of its busiest summers on record in 2021. Compared to pre-pandemic statistics in 2019, the destination saw an increase of over 18% in June with 54,188 visitors, an increase of 19% in July increase with 56,022 visitors, and an increase of 15% in August with 41,734 visitors. These numbers exceeded all projection modules and are well above average in a normal economic climate. Taking into consideration the current economic conditions and travel sentiment caused as a result of the global pandemic these numbers are considered extraordinary. Tourism in the destination continues to flourish thanks to diligent safety protocols and strategic marketing campaigns in the United States, Canada, South America, United Kingdom and Europe.
These powerful statistics are due to a combination of factors, including pent up demand for travel during the summer, and the result of the Tourist Board’s strategic marketing plans to promote the destination as a safe destination, including protocols enacted to ensure that both the local and international population are protected during these challenging times. The Tourist Board has carried out aggressive public relations campaigns, including press visits with key publications to ensure that they tell the authentic Turks and Caicos story on a consistent basis. The current public relations campaigns also include radio campaigns in source markets, advertising and partnerships with key stakeholders, and executing the Tourist Board’s signature event, Turks and Caicos Conference (TACC), which updated key wholesale and airline partners, who drive millions on dollars in revenue to the destination, on updated protocols and accommodation availability.
These strategic promotions with key partners and the TCI Assured protocols to increase travel confidence, combined with the aggressive vaccine campaign spearhead by the Ministry of Health, has had a tremendous positive impact on the business that the Turks and Caicos Islands has received and confidence in the safety and security in the destination.
September is traditionally the slowest tourism month of the year for the Turks and Caicos and regional competitors, primarily due to it being the peak hurricane season in the Caribbean region. Many of the destination’s hotels and restaurants take this opportunity to seasonally close for renovations that ensure the quality of the product remains consistent and it also allows staff members to take vacations, ensuing that they become rejuvenated for the busier winter season. While these predicted seasonal closers occur in 2021, information received from the Tourist Board’s local and international partners indicate that September statistics are pacing to be the same as 2019 and October statistics are currently pacing approximately 10% ahead of 2019. Booking windows are shorter than they have been in previous years, so while the remainder of the season will be impacted by the Delta Variant, we are working towards and hopeful for a busy and successful Festive season.
“I am pleased to see that our destination has performed so well, especially during the summer which has historically been the slow season for the Turks and Caicos Islands,” commented Minister of Tourism Honorable Josephine Connolly. “We enacted and enforced the necessary protocols to keep our local population and our visitors safe, which has resulted in excellent numbers and a summer that has performed above previous years. We are looking forward to a promising Festive season and are doing everything in our power to ensure that tourism, our main economic driver, is servicing our community and our travelling public equally”.
The Turks and Caicos Islands also continues to promote its vaccine campaign among residents, with over 70 percent of the adult population being fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine—making it one of the most inoculated countries in the world.
For more information on the Turks and Caicos Islands, call 1 (800) 241-0824 or visit www.turksandcaicostourism.com. Follow the Turks and Caicos Islands on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation Celebrates World Tourism Day
#TheBahamas, September 28, 2021 – “This year, World Tourism Day has been designated as a day to focus on inclusive growth through tourism, which is quite poignant,” said Deputy Prime Minister The Honourable I. Chester Cooper, Bahamas Minister of Tourism, Investments & Aviation. “Like many Caribbean destinations, tourism is the heartbeat of The Bahamas and as we say, it is everyone’s business. Our beaches are breathtaking, and the water is so clear you can see it from space, but that is not what defines us. Rather, it is every individual person who shapes the Bahamas experience and stands to benefit from tourism’s success. I am committed to creating jobs and opportunities for all Bahamians and to help our great nation heal.”
As international travel restrictions begin to ease, spurred by an increase in vaccine accessibility, The Bahamas is well positioned for continued recovery. A rise in scheduled airlift combined with the return of the cruise industry is contributing to a positive increase in visitor numbers, leading to nearly 500,000 visitors over the first six months of the year.
“While we have faced an uphill battle during these unprecedented times, we must stay focused and optimistic as the world begins to reopen,” noted the Deputy Prime Minister. “I join with leaders throughout the Caribbean to elevate the importance of social inclusion, sustainability and smart destinations and businesses. Our beautiful country, and our beloved Caribbean region, will prosper again and continue to progress, as in the words of the motto of The Bahamas: Forward, Upward, Onward, Together.”
Photo Credit: Sandals.com
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