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Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture – Minister’s Statement

Turks and Caicos, July 27, 2017 – Providenciales – Good morning Mr. Speaker, colleagues, strangers in the gallery and, persons listening via radio or other means; I trust your day is off to a great start. Let me also give a shout out to my people of North and Middle Caicos. I am always thinking about you.

Today I rise to provide you with a brief update on several notable policies and, amendments to various ordinances that have been passed or will be passed in the near future. These recent changes or proposed amendments are designed to improve governance in our country and to positively affect the lives of our people throughout the length and breadth of this country.

VRBO and Air BnB Policy
One such Policy which initiative my Ministry has advanced is the VRBO and Air BnB Policy. Mr. Speaker, the Ministry has made significant progress in this area through a number of productive fact finding meetings with key stakeholder including, Air B&B as an organization and through the findings of a consultation carried out in the TCI by a VROB specialists from Europe, who has helped with the implementation of VRBO policies in a number of Caribbean jurisdictions.

As you are probably aware Mr. Speaker, there is an urgent need to regulate VRBO, AIR B&B, Flip Cay and similar organizations conducting business across our islands. The proposed policies and regulations are intended to level the playing field for all accommodation providers, secure entry opportunities for local businesses which may seek to enter into this segment of the hospitality sector. The Policy and regulation are also designed to protect Government revenue and establish enforceable Quality Assurance Standards across all spectrums of available accommodations in the islands
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry is pursuing these new policies and, making the necessary legislative and regulatory amendments in concert with the Ministry of Finance and the Tourist Board.

National Parks Amendments
Mr. Speaker I would like to draw your attention to the proposed National Parks Amendments. The public consultation on the national parks order has been concluded. The Ministry and the DECR are currently compiling and reviewing the data received. The findings from this public consultation process will help to guide the decision making as it relates to the proposed Parks Amendments. Following which, the prerequisite paper will be drafted and submitted for cabinet’s review and endorsement.

It is envisaged that the proposed amendments will see the expansion of existing protected areas; place new areas under protection and re designate some current protected areas.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry would like to assure this Honorable House, that in every circumstance, due consideration would be given to establish balance between the environment and commerce.

Fisheries Protection Regulation
Mr. Speaker, subsequent to the successful apprehension of M/V Captain Blaze, we were able to make several amendments to the Fisheries Protection Regulations to allow for seized products caught by spear guns (which is illegal in the TCI) to be sold to help mitigate the costs associated with the capture of poachers. Before this, these products would have been dumped. I am also pleased to advise that a revision to the said regulation was made to allow the DECR to donate illegally caught marine product to charitable organizations and senior citizens throughout the length and breadth of our country.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure this Honorable House that we will continue to review and update our Fishing Regulations, for the protection of our reefs and oceans.

Gaming policy and legislation
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry and the Gaming Inspectorate are working with the AG’s chambers to finalize the gaming bill in short order. The new Bill will see a complete overhaul of the gaming sector. One of the key amendments in the draft bill is the establishment of a gaming commission. This body will serve as a regulatory and enforcement agency.

Mr. Speaker, the Ministry has had broad consultation with stakeholders new Bill and have sought input from international gaming agencies to ensure that the TCI is in full compliance with all its international obligations as it relates to Gaming. The required processes to get the bill to the House for passage will commence shortly

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