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Gov’t urged to deal swiftly with Clifton oil pollution

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Nearly six months after the government announced it would spend $10 million on oil spill remediation efforts, petrochemical pollution remains a serious threat to the sensitive marine environment throughout The Bahamas, but particularly at Clifton Bay, environmentalists say.

Vanessa Haley-Benjamin, CEO of fast-growing social and environmental movement Save The Bays (STB), said recent complaints from divers visiting the Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Gardens, who emerged from the water covered in oil, prove that whatever actions have been taken to date have been far from sufficient.

“We appreciate the government’s recognition that oil pollution in Clifton Bay is an issue that needs attention,” she said. “Unfortunately, whatever has been done so far has failed to produce timely results.

“Details of the remediation plan were not released to the public, so it is difficult to understand why, considering the reported financial commitment, a tangible solution has yet to be found.”

The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is responsible for the sculpture garden, and executive director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert warned of the devastating impact this pollution is having on living coral reefs, fish and other marine organisms in the area.

Haley-Benjamin said: “We wholeheartedly support and second BREEF’s call for increased protection of the reef systems around western New Providence, which are critically important resources, ecologically and commercially speaking, and which have been under severe stress from industrial pollution for years.”

The area is vital to the local dive tourism sector, she said, as well as for recreational and commercial fishermen, with the sculpture garden in particular attracting interest from avid divers around the world.

Designed as a fusion of art, education, and marine conservation, the garden was created to provide a habitat for fish, corals and other marine organisms, divert snorkelers and divers away from natural reefs and thus providing space for restoration, and serve as an outdoor classroom for environmental education and citizen science.

“Quite aside from the dire environmental consequences, the ongoing pollution is threatening tourism revenue and doing untold damage to the country’s reputation abroad,” Haley-Benjamin said. “STB is calling on the government to make this issue a priority and give it the attention it deserves.”

According to Dr. Craig Dahlgren, a marine biologist and senior research scientist who studied coral reef ecology in The Bahamas and wider Caribbean for more than 20 years, pollution has already had a devastating effect on Clifton Bay.

“In surveys of coral reefs around New Providence conducted in 2011, sites near Clifton were among the lowest in terms of live coral cover, and had seen some of the greatest declines in live coral from previous surveys of reefs off southwest New Providence conducted in 2009,” he said.

At some sites, the researched showed this decline to have been as high as 43% in just two years.

In addition to coastal pollution, increased temperatures and overfishing have also had an impact. However, Dahlgren said, the sites closest to likely pollution sources were among those with the lowest live coral cover.

“It is clear that significant changes are happening to our coral reef resources,” Haley-Benjamin said. “It is imperative that we act now to prevent continued degradation.

“We and other concerned environmental groups stand ready to assist the government in identifying the origins of the oil spills and enhancing remediation efforts to accelerate meaningful results.

“To the extent that the $10 million plan announced in January may be working, it is clearly not working fast enough.”

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Ms. Camilla Lightbourne joins Experience Turks and Caicos team  

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Ms. Camilla Lightbourne

 

#TurksandCaicos, February 22, 2024 – Experience Turks and Caicos is pleased to welcome Ms. Camilla Lightbourne to the post of Executive Assistant to the CEO effective February 06th, 2024.

Ms. Lightbourne is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree a DeVry University in Florida and previously worked as an Import Logistics Associate at Graceway Trading Ltd. Where she supported department goals and initiatives through the generation of reports and a Business Account Executive at Digicel where she managed daily and monthly reports and helped resolve customer issues.

In welcoming Ms. Lightbourne to the team, Ms. Racquel Brown, Change Manager and Interim CEO of Experience Turks and Caicos said Ms. Lightbourne’s appointment underscores the growth of the organisation.

“Experience Turks and Caicos is growing as an organisation to meet its mission and goal.  The Executive Assistant to the CEO is critical to support the CEO Office for the effective and efficient day-to-day administration to assist the CEO manage the scheduling and timely completion of Strategic Projects and Programmes.   I look forward to working with Ms. Lightbourne as the Change Manager/Interim CEO of Experience Turks and Caicos in this regard,” she said.

Ms. Lightbourne said she is pleased to be part of the Experience Turks and Caicos team.

“I am elated to join such a dynamic organisation and working with the CEO’s office where I will have an opportunity to implement many of the project management and organisational skills I have learned over the years. I am looking forward to making my mark on the future development of our country’s tourism product,” she said.

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CTO Chairman Hails Success of Business Meetings in Saint-Martin

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February 22, 2024 – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) concluded its business meetings last week in Saint-Martin, marking a significant milestone in the collaborative efforts to strengthen and revitalize the Caribbean tourism sector. Under the direction of Chairman Kenneth Bryan, who also serves as Minister of Tourism and Ports for the Cayman Islands, the CTO has embarked on a transformative journey to reimagine its role and impact within the global tourism landscape.

“When I took over as chairman (in 2022), we decided to go through a reimagining exercise and you can start to see the changes already,” said Chairman Bryan, citing the appointment of Secretary-General and CEO Dona Regis-Prosper, the return of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Bermuda to the 25-member body, and the re-engagement of destinations such as Montserrat as examples of the progress made.

A highlight of the meetings was the presentation of a comprehensive plan for the year ahead by Regis-Prosper, the first woman appointed to the post in the organization’s history.

This year’s first series of business meetings focused on defining a strategic direction for the upcoming year and reviewing the organization’s accomplishments since Minister Bryan’s tenure began. “The discussions were fruitful and reflective of the vibrant spirit that characterizes our collective efforts,” stated Minister Bryan. “The CTO is moving towards a reimagined, revitalized and relevant future, with a clear focus on overcoming challenges through unity and shared vision,” he asserted.

A significant part of the meetings centered on the critical role of aviation in connecting the Caribbean. Chairman Bryan emphasized the commitment to enhancing regional connectivity and addressing the complexities of aviation logistics, highlighting a resolution to engage with key stakeholders, including the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and regional airlines, to advocate for increased seat capacity and facilitate more seamless travel within the Caribbean.

The group discussed the possibility of staging a Caribbean aviation conference: an assembly of airline and airport authority executives; hotel brands; tourism stakeholders; and government ministers with responsibility for tourism, civil aviation, regulatory and finance matters. “We need robust dialogue on the necessary changes to incentivize more connectivity within the region, so we’re going to put our foot down on the gas concerning this because it’s a serious concern for many members, particularly in the Eastern Caribbean.”

Reflecting on his tenure as chairman, Minister Bryan is encouraged by the progress made, particularly in stabilizing the organization’s fiscal position, increasing membership confidence, and positioning the CTO prominently in global tourism discussions. The CTO’s efforts have also focused on leveraging technology, artificial intelligence, and digital media to enhance the Caribbean’s appeal as the world’s leading warm-weather destination.

The CTO’s vision also encompasses a rebranding of the organization and a reinforcement of the foundational spirit of Caribbean kinship. “Our goal is to ensure that every member state feels tangible value from its involvement with the CTO, fostering a sense of belonging and collective achievement,” commented Minister Bryan.

He said CTO’s strategic direction, under the Secretary-General’s leadership, promises a dynamic and inclusive future for Caribbean tourism, one that emphasizes innovation, collaboration, and a deepened sense of regional camaraderie.

 

Photo Caption: Kenneth Bryan, Chairman of CTO’s Ministerial Council and Minister of Tourism and Ports of the Cayman Islands (left), is pictured with CTO Secretary-General Dona Regis-Prosper; Bermuda Minister of Tourism Owen Darrell; and Rosa Harris, Chairman of CTO’s Board of Directors and Director of Tourism for the Cayman Islands.

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Caribbean News

DIGICEL BUSINESS’ HOSPITALITY SOLUTIONS IS REVOLUTIONISING THE GUEST EXPERIENCE

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February 22, 2024 – Digicel Business is proud to introduce its cutting-edge Hospitality Solutions, designed to transform the guest experience in hotels, resorts, and hospitality establishments worldwide. With a commitment to innovation and excellence, Digicel Business is empowering the hospitality industry to thrive in a digital age. In an era where guests expect seamless connectivity, personalized experiences, and efficient services, Digicel Business is at the forefront of delivering solutions that meet these evolving demands. Our Hospitality Solutions suite offers a range of services and technologies that will redefine the way guests interact with your establishment.

Key features of Digicel Business Hospitality Solutions include:

  1. Reliable & Secure Connectivity: Ensure lightning-fast, secure internet access throughout your property, enabling guests to stay connected effortlessly, whether for work or leisure.
  2. Enhanced Guest Experiences: Elevate customer satisfaction and loyalty with convenient and customized experiences, including Hospitality TV, Push to Talk radio, Access Control, Fixed Voice for your front desk and rooms & Video Surveillance.
  3. Efficient Operations: Increase operational performance and efficiency, reduce operational cost by reduction of manual processes. Focus on what you do best, while we take care of the rest.
  4. Security Solutions: Secure customers’ data with solutions that are easy to use but sophisticated enough to keep you secure. 5. Scalability: Our solutions are adaptable to properties of all sizes, from boutique hotels to sprawling resorts, ensuring a customized fit for your establishment. 6. Dedicated Support: Digicel Business provides support to ensure hotels and resorts can resolve any connectivity or technology-related issues promptly.

Lydia Tucker, Head of Digicel Business Turks & Caicos, commented: “The hospitality industry is undergoing a significant transformation, with digital technologies at the forefront of this evolution. At Digicel Business, we are committed to helping our partners in the hospitality sector embrace these changes and deliver unparalleled guest experiences. Our comprehensive suite of Hospitality Solutions is designed to enhance operational efficiency, increase guest satisfaction, and drive revenue growth.”

As the Caribbean and Central America‘s leading communications and technology solutions provider, Digicel Business continues to invest in cutting-edge solutions that empower businesses across various sectors

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