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More immigration officers on shift at airport, Border Control Minister confident industrial action over

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Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – March 8, 2018 – The team of Immigration Officers working at the border control checkpoint of the Providenciales International Airport has been bolstered to 10, with more officers on standby in the event they are needed to support the processing of arriving international passengers.

Industrial action by members of the immigration airport staff led to an embarrassing back-up of travelers who waited in some cases, up to four hours to be processed and allowed into the country.  

“While we support any staff who needs to represent themselves, we also cautioned them on the implications that some actions can take on the industry.  I am happy to say that walking away from that meeting, I feel confident that we should not see a repeat of what happened this past weekend.”

Deputy Premier and Minister of Border Control, Sean Astwood addressed media fresh off of a meeting with immigration officers, the Permanent Secretary, Directors, Management and the Deputy Governor.

Minister Astwood said, “The initial shift system had eight officers scheduled however over the last couple of days you had a number of officers that did not show that is how we ended up with the four and five being present at any one time.  We have now boosted that up to ten officers, on a day like today, with additional officers on call.  On the weekends – Saturdays and Sundays – we should be looking at a minimum of 14 officers with additional being on call.”

The Minister explained that the issues resulting in the dreadfully long lines at the international arrivals terminal due to a shortage of Border Control manpower at the PIA is a thing of the past.  Hon Astwood announced in a press conference held today at the Office of the Premier in Providenciales that there has been resolve on the issues of pay and overtime pay. 

The DP, who first apologized for the problems in service, said the cost for the extra hours was unsustainable and that the method instituted to control those costs was resisted by some and it led to the industrial action and eventual shortage of staff.

“The new shift system is needed.  The shift system is borne out of the audit report that was done where the overtime amount for the airport staff was well over anything that could be sustained by government and it needed changes to be made in order to minimize the amount of overtime that we were experiencing from that department.”

It was expressed that while there may be some who are still not in agreement with the changes which reportedly must be made, there was largely a ‘buy in’ by the immigration staff of the amended system.

The Minister further explained: “Due to staffing issues at the airport in terms of how the system was designed, it was not adequate to meet the demand at the airport.  We have now addressed that in a number of different ways moving forward and we expect that what had happened on Saturday and Sunday and the reports we have gotten so far this week, that we should not see a repeat of that today.”

The Deputy Premier joined a press conference already in progress, and held to deal with the long lines at the airport and concerns emanating out of Salt Cay.  Hon Sean Astwood described what sparked the ‘sit out’.  

“I will say that the no shows stem from persons who felt like they did not support the shift system.  We’ve now, I think, got to a point where we have properly explained the need for the system and also working with them on how we can make it better and how we can make it work for everyone.  I think we’ve got buy in from the staff, generally on that. On the issues of overtime they now are fully abreast of how that issue is gonna to be addressed moving forward and I can say from the meeting that we had and the commitment from the staff to fully cooperate that they understand the importance of their role in performing not just in protecting our borders, but to make sure that they know the importance of the guests coming into this country and their role in the tourism industry… it is not something we can trifle with,” said Deputy Premier Astwood to media.

The Deputy Premier confirmed that if necessary, the Immigration Department is prepared to pull officers in from the office or outer island complement in order to deliver on expeditious service at the Provo International Airport.

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Sandals Team Excited about Reopening Sandals Royal Bahamian

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#TheBahamas, November 24, 2021 – Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International was on hand recently to welcome, engage, thank and motivate returning team members and new recruits of Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island, as the resort ramps up its preparations for its re-opening come January 27, 2022.

With extensive renovations to the re-imagined resort continuing to unfold, the resort is also well advanced with the recruitment of nearly 1,050 team members across several levels and varying departments, and is now proceeding with its immersive orientation and training exercises, preparing the team to welcome guests for the first time since closing in March 2020.

In the most recent onboarding session attended by Stewart and chaired by a host of seasoned Sandals senior management and executives, Stewart welcomed the returning and new recruits. “I want to use this opportunity to officially welcome you to the ‘World’s Best Team’- team Sandals. Having witnessed the progress of the renovations, I can tell you all that the reimagined Sandals Royal Bahamian and all its new features is going to be the most exquisite resort in this country. The reopening of Sandals Royal Bahamian will be magical and I’m looking forward to all of us growing and evolving together. Any company that is growing is a company that provides opportunities and those opportunities are for you to seize,” he shared.

He added that the reopening provides an exceptional opportunity for Sandals and the Bahamian government to continue an amazing and mutually beneficial partnership as the tourism industry and the region continue to chart the way forward on the path to economic recovery.

“My family and I have a love affair with the islands of the Bahamas, there is nothing quite like this country. We made the decision to keep this resort closed so that we could invest in it and invest in this country, as we wanted to ensure that when we stand the test of time for the next 20 years, we have a resort like no other. As a company we promote brand Bahamas using various marketing strategies from traditional to new media, as this is a partnership between you and our organization,” he said.

Stewart spoke at one of the several orientation sessions where new and returning team members will be “Sandalized” – preparing them to effectively and confidently deliver the company’s world-class luxury-included service as they gear up for full return to work.

Philippa Adams, returning team member from the Laundry Department expressed that she is delighted about the reopening.

“I would scream right now but that may not be appropriate but I’m overjoyed that the resort will be reopening in January. The orientation sessions have been so empowering and refreshing and have given me a major boost in confidence. The sessions are furnishing us with all the tools we need to get back to work and execute at an optimal level,” declared Adams.

The orientation commenced on November 1 and will run through to November 26, 2021. Utilising technology and new state of the art training mechanisms, the orientations sessions are being held in adherence to COVID-19 protocols and are therefore being conducted in phases using dual modality of face-to-face sessions and virtual courses by way of the company’s Learning Management System (LMS).

Director for Learning, Development and Service Standards, Dr Phillip Brown shared, “As a team, we pride ourselves on innovation. As the company forges ahead, we elevate our systems to incorporate new ways of ensuring our Sandals standards are maintained, our guests’ expectations are exceeded and our team members are fully equipped for success. During these phased training sessions, team members will be exposed to our company’s world renowned service standards, our ethos of community involvement, particularly through our Sandals Foundation as also the myriad of personal development opportunities through our Sandals Corporate University.”

Brown is part of the company’s training team that is on the ground at Sandals Royal Bahamian. The team comprises leaders from various resorts within the Sandals group who are assisting with ensuring a seamless developmental process for the new recruits ahead of the long awaited, grand reopening.

 

Photo Caption: Adam Stewart_ Executive Chairman for Sandals Resorts International (SRI) addressed new and returning team members of Sandals Royal Bahamian during an orientation session, recently.

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Turks & Caicos Airline links the Caribbean like no other regional Carrier, Now Flying to Guyana

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#TurksandCaicos, November 13, 2021 – In under five weeks, interCaribbean Airways, the Turks and Caicos based airline company will begin flights between Barbados and Guyana and on Friday (November 5) the announcement came in a high profile ceremony in George Town.

Founder and Chairman of the airline, Lyndon Gardiner and its CEO Trevor Sadler were both on hand along with other dignitaries in airline and government for the well-received reveal.

Commuters are offered up to 12 flights per week between the countries.  The government of Guyana is thrilled at the potential; and so is the government of Barbados.

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill explained now residents can fly out in the morning and be back home in time for dinner; he had a simple but striking statement for interCaribbean Airways; stay in the market, grow in this market even if there is competition.

When Gardiner, who is native to North Caicos, addressed the historic gathering, he explained “Everyone wants to move here to be part of the new oil, gas, tourism and manufacturing sector. interCaribbean is proud to be a part of this new growth and to support it … and I feel that Guyanese leadership is bullish on managing its economy and encouraging direct foreign investment in a way that is beneficial to the long-term strategic interests of Guyana.”

It was just last year, in August, that interCaribbean amidst the raging coronavirus pandemic stepped up to offer critical airline connection in the Eastern Caribbean.

Gardiner informed that his company was well on its way to having a flight in every Caribbean country by 2025, before progress was slowed by the pandemic.  Despite this delay, the feats of interCaribbean Airways are unprecedented and will not be denied according to company executives.

Flights from Barbados to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana begin on December 17.

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15 World Travel Award WINNERS for the Turks and Caicos Islands

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#TurksandCaicos, October 22, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board, the exclusive tourism authority for the Turks and Caicos Islands, is pleased to announce that the destination has been named a winner in seven categories at the 28th annual World Travel Awards. The World Travel Awards serve to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry. Today, it is the leading authority that recognizes the ultimate hallmark of industry excellence, globally. The full list of the prestigious regional awards won by the Turks and Caicos Islands and its tourism partners include:

  • Caribbean’s Leading Beach Destination 2021 – Turks & Caicos Islands
  • Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination 2021 – Turks & Caicos Islands
  • Caribbean’s Leading All Suite Hotel 2021 – The Palms Turks & Caicos
  • Caribbean’s Leading All-Inclusive Family Resort 2021 – Beaches Turks & Caicos
  • Caribbean’s Leading Luxury Island Resort 2021 – Sailrock Resort, Turks & Caicos
  • Caribbean’s Leading New Resort 2021 – The Ritz-Carlton, Turks & Caicos
  • Caribbean’s Leading Private Island Resort 2021 – Pine Cay, The Meridian Club, Turks & Caicos

As a destination, the Turks and Caicos Islands has consecutively won the award for the Caribbean’s Leading Beach Destination and the Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination. These awards come as no surprise as the Islands are renowned for its pristine beaches and breathtaking turquoise waters and are considered the ideal destination for honeymoons and weddings.

Minister of Tourism, Honorable Josephine Connolly, stated, “We are thrilled to have continuously won in these categories of the World Travel Awards, as this is testament to our continued commitment in ensuring the Turks and Caicos Islands is the leading tourism destination in the region. The Ministry of Tourism’s team and industry partners all play an equally important part in promoting the destination and strengthening the brand of the destination.  The awards are a cumulative effort of all tourism partners inclusive of the Ministry of Health, who have guided us throughout this pandemic and implemented protocols that not only keep the local population safe but have allowed the tourism industry to thrive. We are grateful to our team, partners and all persons in the industry for the various roles they play in continuing to make our destination a leader in the industry.”

Director of Tourism, Pamela Ewing, stated, “My team and I are ecstatic to receive the awards for Caribbean’s Leading Beach Destination and Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board has continued to promote the destination through strategic marketing and promotions plans as both a ‘Beautiful by Nature’ destination and as the leading destination for honeymoons and weddings.” The World Travel Awards also recognized and awarded some of the best tourism related agencies within the Turks and Caicos Islands, as follows:

  • Turks & Caicos’ Leading Boutique Hotel 2021 – Windsong Resort
  • Turks & Caicos’ Leading Car Rental Company 2021 – Avis
  • Turks & Caicos’ Leading Destination Management Company 2021 – Olympia Destination Management Company
  • Turks & Caicos’ Leading Hotel 2021 – The Palms Turks & Caicos
  • Turks & Caicos’ Leading Hotel Suite 2021 – Four Bedroom Oceanfront Penthouse @ Windsong Resort
  • Turks & Caicos’ Leading Resort 2021 – Amanyara Villas
  • Turks & Caicos’ Leading Tour Operator 2021 – Caicos Dream Tours
  • Turks & Caicos’ Leading Travel Agency 2021 – Turks & Caicos Reservations

Traditionally, the World Travel Awards host a Gala Ceremony where top industry leaders and high-level tourism professionals from across the Caribbean region gather. However, given the ongoing global challenges, they have now opted to host a virtual day of celebrations in lieu of a physical ceremony.

Today, we virtually celebrate the World Travel Awards Winners for the Caribbean & North America.

 

Photo Credit: Brilliant Photography

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