Beaches Turks and Caicos has proclaimed its recently concluded Travel Agent Megafams programme as its most successful ever with over 2,720 of North America’s top travel agents visiting the country, most for the first time.
The much-celebrated orientation programme saw agents jet into Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands from key travel gateways throughout the vital North American region via 20 specially-chartered airplanes, including six wide bodied jets, at a cost of over US$5 million to the resort company.
Sandals Resorts International Chairman Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart commented, “The Travel Agent Megafams is the single biggest trade programme ever seen in the Turks and Caicos Islands and this latest campaign has generated unprecedented levels of the exposure for Providenciales and the country as a whole. It is a huge exercise and once you factor in the cost of chartering the aircraft, the taxis, food and beverage, entertainment and everything else, it’s a substantial investment but the long term benefits to the destination are immeasurable.”
“The quality of the agents we bought down to Provo was of paramount importance. They were the best of the best; each highly qualified and carefully veted beforehand and in many cases travel hundreds of miles to the airport from the surrounding cities and states to attend. These individuals possess the ability to have a game-changing effect on the TCI tourism industry and bringing them here and giving them the chance to experience up close and personal what the Turks and Caicos has to offer makes all the difference in the world.”
As many as 85% of the visiting travel agents experienced the TCI for the first time with the Beaches Turks and Caicos team rolling out the ‘red carpet’ treatment with resort tours, island-wide excursions, catamaran tours as well as plenty of free time to explore the country all featuring in the agents’ exciting three day itinerary. In addition, each travel agent was required to attend a four-hour training course arming them with the education they need to successfully sell the destination once they reach home.
Jessica Lang from Travel Planners International in Florida commented, “It was a pleasure to experience Turks & Caicos for the very first time in the great care of Sandals. My stay at the Beaches Resort exceeded my expectations. It was a true treat for my soul to be surrounded by so much beauty, appetizing cuisine, and fun filled activities. Working for a large host agency, I love helping our travel agents sell not only more travel, but quality travel, and the Beaches Resort at Turks & Caicos is guaranteed to surpass the expectations, as it did for me.”
Stewart also paid tribute to the Turks and Caicos Government who contributed US$500k to the programme under a previous agreement, “the Travel Agent Megafams are not just about our resort, it’s about the Turks and Caicos Islands as a destination and I publically applaud the TCI Government for their role in ensuring the programme was both feasible and memorable. The majority of those agents who attended had never been to the TCI before so it’s easy to see the impact that this has had in the North American agent community.”
Travel agents visited from 19 key US and Canadian hubs throughout North America including Boston, New York, Newark, Rochester, Fort Lauderdale, Baltimore, Montreal, Cleveland, Atlanta, Orlando, Dallas, Houston, Nashville, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto, Miami, Charlotte and Westchester.
The island’s taxi drivers played an instrumental part in what is usually a slow period on the TCI tourism calendar and did a remarkable job transferring the groups to and from the airport and, in some case, providing island-wide orientation trips for the agents.
“I have received a multitude of the most tremendous messages and letters from agents commenting on everything from the food they ate and the service of resort staff right through to the taxi drivers and the immigration department, who did a marvellous job of fast tracking them through the airport. The word of mouth being generating is simply priceless and I take my hat off to His Excellency Governor Beckingham, Premier Ewing and his team, the opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, the great local hoteliers, the people of the TCI and everyone else who played a part in the programme’s success. Special mention must also go to Beaches Managing Director Don Dagenais and his resort team who blew them away; we are already reaping the benefits of the programme and plan to do more in the future,” Stewart concluded.
GBPA invests $1.1 million in major road infrastructure improvements for city of Freeport
#TheBahamas, May 20, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) will commence its $1.1 million road resurfacing project in Freeport, Grand Bahama on Sunday, May 22, 2022 beginning with the Fishing Hole Road, and West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout.
“Our City Maintenance and Management section is excited to begin this important initiative to resurface roadways within Freeport,” said Troy McIntosh, GBPA Deputy Director of Building and Development Services. “Our city has been through many challenging storm events which did catastrophic damage to infrastructure around the island, including our roads.
“But our community is resilient, and we are seeing a positive shift in the economic tide,” continued McIntosh. “Excitement for future opportunities and anticipation of new investments is palpable through the city, so we knew this was the ideal time to start this aspect of Freeport’s much-needed makeover to which GBPA is fully committed.”
Roadworks are scheduled for main thoroughfares and a number of residential roads. These areas include the Fishing Hole Road, West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout, West Atlantic Drive at Rayvin Mall roundabout, Beach Way Drive, Bahama Reef Boulevard, Pioneers Way, Waterfall Drive, Tarrytown Street and Grand Bahama Highway. “We selected these locations using our Road Rating System, which allows inspectors to assess the condition and rideability of our roads on an annual basis,” added Mr. McIntosh.
The GBPA roadworks project went out to bid in December 2020. In March 2022, the bid was awarded to Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM), who specializes in heavy civil engineering projects including major highways.
“We ask motorists to drive with due care and attention while roadwork is underway,” Mr. McIntosh advised. Flagmen and temporary traffic lights will be in position to direct traffic. Please obey the speed limit and posted signs to help ensure the safety of all motorists and crews as they conduct work. Delays are expected as there will be partial lane closures in some areas.”
The initial phase of road resurfacing is scheduled to be completed at the end of June 2022. For the latest updates and information on redirected travel routes, residents can follow any of the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s social media sites or visit its website at www.gbpa.com.
RTCIPF Marine Branch and USCG Working Together in Keeping Our Borders Secure
#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – During the afternoon of Wednesday 19th May 2022, a call was made to the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre via VHF radio that a suspicious vessel was sighted around 35 miles south east of Providenciales. The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and with the support of a US Coast Guard (USCG) plane, safely intercepted an overloaded vessel carrying irregular migrants.
Following delicate coordination and the stabilization of the boat which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and none of the occupants was wearing life vests, the RTCIPF marine unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment and Tactical Unit officers to support the delicate operation.
The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants after which, the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 10:30pm with a total of 110 persons (84 males and 24 females and 2 juveniles) who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department.
Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Once again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was overcrowded, unsafe, risking the lives of those on board. This demonstrates the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, USCG, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and the RTCIPF Tactical Unit to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos safe. In the last couple of months around 768 individuals on 8 dangerous vessels have been intercepted which is testament to the professionalism of our teams here in the TCI and I am very grateful to the passing vessel who raised the alarm. I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call Crimes Stoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477 (TIPS) not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
Ten Selected for the TCREA Real Estate Mentorship Program
#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – Since the official announcement of the Turks & Caicos Real Estate Association’s High School Mentorship Program, ten mentees have been selected for the inaugural group and will begin their journey on the road to embracing the fundamentals of the real estate field this month.
TCREA Ambassador and Director of the mentorship program, Mr. Trevor Musgrove, shared how pleased the committee was to have received thirty applications for the program, “We extended the opportunity to high schoolers and young college students aged 13-17. Initially, the invitation for applications was shared only with Providenciales students because of the logistical challenge to accommodate in-person sessions with sister island students, as all our committee members are based in Providenciales.
Luckily, once the Ministry of Education came on board and endorsed the program, Honourable Rachel Taylor immediately encouraged us to extend the mentorship opportunity to all islands, pledging her Ministry’s commitment to handling the necessary authorizations and cost to ensure successful applicants outside of Provo would be able travel here as needed,” said Musgrove.
The successful applicants and their respective schools are as follows:
· Clement Howell High – Dashawn Brooks, Alyssa Callum
· Raymond Gardiner High – Olique Stubbs, Lewis Walkin, Jr.
· Precious Treasures – Aniyah Bovie
· Maranatha Academy – Shamya Missick
· British West Indies Collegiate – Pavla Lalakova, Andino Parker
· Louise Garland Thomas High – Abnise Noel, Antoine Gedeon
Musgrove said they were pleased to have had applicants from North Caicos and were hopeful to have students from Grand Turk and South Caicos among the group, however no applications were received from those islands.
On Tuesday, May 10th the final group came together for a virtual meet-up and briefing, where they were formally introduced to the program’s mentors and were given an overview of what to expect in the coming months.
The teens will receive a monthly educational module over the next six months and will be provided 1-2 weeks to internalize the information. They will then enjoy a monthly in-person session with their mentors where they will put their real estate acumen to the test in interactive sessions, field trips, and more.
Program mentor Manfred Smith of Sotheby’s Turks & Caicos shared his elation for the program’s momentum thus far, “We are excited about providing this opportunity to introduce high school students to the real estate industry. From the initial feedback, the students are also very keen to learn, which makes it rewarding for all as we contribute to the development of tomorrow’s professionals.”
Smith says the program also demonstrates TCREA’s continued commitment as good corporate citizens in the rapidly growing country. The committee hopes that the mentees would grasp all that they can as they continue their educational pursuits.
The program’s Facebook page, @tcreamentors, is live and will document the group’s journey as they move through the program’s phases. Along with Musgrove and Smith, the community can get to know more about the other committee members: Blair MacPherson of REMAX; Nina Siegenthaler of Sotheby’s; Vernica Delancy and Dedra Gray of Keller Williams; and Sean O’neill, of The Agency through the social media page as well.
At the end of the program, the students will sit a mock real estate license exam and will enjoy a retreat for a fun and memorable close-out.
It is TCREA’s hope that this initiative will garner an interest and appreciation for the industry among high-schoolers and will act as springboard to the development of the next generation of local real estate professionals in these islands.
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