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No Vote-Out for Turks and Caicos MP, says Natl Budget supports Five Cays

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Hon Sean Astwood, Deputy Premier - Turks and Caicos Islands, file

#GrandTurk, Turks and Caicos Islands – Wednesday July 18, 2018 – The changes which have for years escaped the residents of Five Cays are coming within this fiscal year, announced Member of Parliament for the district who also said he has no plans of being voted out by his constituents.

PDM Rally in Five Cays, photo by Deandrea Hamilton, December 2016

Deputy Premier and Five Cays Member of Parliament, Hon Sean Astwood came under heavy fire recently and was accused of neglecting the constituency from which he hails and which gave him 62% of the votes in the December 2016 polls.

“Mr. Speaker, for the record I have no intentions of going back on that side of the room. It’s something about those seats on that side that just don’t feel right. Therefore, under my watch “Five Cays, South Dock Road and Chalk Sound will never be neglected.”

The MP added that the PDM Administration, in this budget cycle is supporting significant road works for Five Cays; ending years of neglect he said, and giving constituents the kind of community they deserve.

“Records will show that my constituency of Five Cays was never deemed important enough by the than PNP administration to be included in any of their four budget they passed.  Mr. Speaker, when the wonderful and hard-working voters of Five Cays demonstrated their confidence in me and the PDM party on December 15, 2016, on a mandate of change.  Mr. Speaker, I can truly say things are changing, and changing for the better!”

The contribution by the Deputy Premier came on June 12, 2018, two days after the Budget Communication was delivered by Premier and Finance Minister, Hon Sharlene Robinson. It was titled: ‘Things are Changing and Changing for the Better’.

“The road to the radar station, where we have a lot of foot and vehicle traffic, will be getting paved. Mr. Speaker, this is long overdue. In fact, it was my family that pushed that road when we were the first and sole residents in that area. Since that time Mr. Speaker, that area has become home to many families. And this will be the first inch of tar this road has ever seen. Mr. Speaker, things are changing! And changing for the better, in Five Cays.”

File photo of Road works in Five Cays

Granny Hill will also become smoother passage for the scores of residents living in that part of Five Cays, as the Member of Parliament for the district repeatedly rejected allegations of ‘neglect’ levelled against him by vocal members of Five Cays.

“Mr. Speaker, Granny Hill will be paved with sidewalks in this financial year, things are changing!  Mr. Speaker, Matilda Way will be paved with sidewalks in this financial year. And for those that might not know that road by name; that is the road that circles Pumpy’s Place going straight around the back pass Rousseau’s house and back to the Five Cays main road. Mr. Speaker, neglect? No, no, no, Mr. Speaker, things are changing in Five Cays and changing for the better!”

There was also congratulations to the primary school of the community, Enid Capron Primary which had outstanding showing in this year’s Grade Six Achievement Tests.

“Mr. Speaker, I want to publicly congratulate the Principal, Staff, and successful students of Enid Capron Primary school for capturing three of the top ten positions in the 2018 Grade Six Achievement Test. You have made our constituency and community of Five Cays very proud. Mr. Speaker, they deserve to be acknowledge.”

Work in Five Cays will continue said the Member, including at the Felix Morley Community Center.  It was pointed out that last year the road to Sandbar was paved, despite the public outcry from some.

Mr. Speaker, the Five Cays Beautification project started with the Welcome to Five Cays and Welcome to Chalk Sound Signs during my years as a member of the opposition. However, the signs were only phase one of my Beautification project.  Residents and Visitors alike must prepare themselves for the beauty that is about to unfold.  Mr. Speaker, anyone familiar with my campaign has heard me consistently mention Operation Facelift. The roads, the community center, the primary health care offering, and Five Cays Beautification are just some of the components of operation face lift. I made promises to my constituents and I will continue to work tirelessly until all promises are delivered.  Which includes major cleanup campaigns like I have done before. Mr. Speaker, I must say that I am blessed to be able to bring about the changes that I wanted to see as a child, teenager, and eventually a young adult growing up in Five Cays and during my years in opposition.”

Five Cays is only a part of the district though and the more upscale community of Chalk Sound was included in the early part of Hon. Astwood’s contribution on the Budget.

Photo by Camille Lyne, posted to Facebook Sept 2017

“Mr. Speaker, the residents of Chalk Sound and Silly Creek will be happy to hear that I have also been working on a Green Park for them. I have already identified various suitable sites for this park. It is my intention this year to have the site designated for this purpose and design and works beginning as soon as possible. The works will begin initially from residents and private sector support with major assistance coming from the government later.

There were shout-outs; “I would like to give a big shout out to the Chalk Sound community for their diligence, their community spirit, their modes of communicating with each other and the watchful eye they keep on their community. They are an example for other communities.”

Photo by Deandrea Hamilton, 2017 event

And kudos come for the new community organization in Five Cays, which will again host the Lobsterfest on the beach adjacent the Felix Morley Community Center.

“Mr. Speaker, I would also like to give a shout out to the Five Cays Cultural Committee for their projects and other works they have been doing in Five Cays. Mr. Speaker, the public would recall that this committee hosted the First Annual, “Five Cays Lobsterfest” last year September, where it was estimated that over a thousand persons descended into Five Cays. It was a successful event by all measures.  Mr. Speaker, I want to invite you, every member of this House, and the entire public to join us once again in Five Cays this September for a fun filled event.”

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FortisTCI Presents Sponsorship Funds to the National Cancer Society

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Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands (Wednesday, October 20, 2021) – FortisTCI has presented the National Cancer Society of Turks and Caicos Islands with a $5,000 sponsorship to help support the Society’s ongoing programs and the annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk-a-thon, which will be held on Saturday, October 30. FortisTCI President and CEO Ruth Forbes made the presentation on Tuesday, October 5 to the Society’s President Veronica Rigby, and former president Rosemary Jolly.

FortisTCI is a long-standing sponsor of the National Cancer Society and over the years has supported programs such as the annual walk-a-thon and the Society’s Night for the Fight event.

FortisTCI President and CEO Ruth Forbes said, “We are proud to once again show our support for the National Cancer Society and the very important work it does. Cancer is a disease that touches almost everyone in our community, whether directly or indirectly, and it is vital that we have a dedicated organization like the National Cancer Society that continues to educate the community, and provide tangible support to cancer patients. As we mark October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we hope this donation will assist in enabling the Society to expand its outreach efforts.”

National Cancer Society President Veronica Rigby remarked, “On behalf of everyone at the Society, I thank FortisTCI for their continued support. Beyond this sponsorship and their financial commitment through the years, we know we can also count on FortisTCI employees to support our activities. We have a partnership that works well together, as we do everything we can to make a positive difference in the lives of those we serve.”

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Over 75 per cent Fully Vaccinated, Over 800 Boosted says Chief Medical Officer

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#TurksandCaicos, October 19, 2021 – “This week’s COVID vaccine report as of 11th October records a total of 28 529 persons or 82% of the population have received the first dose of the COVID19 vaccine with 26 233 persons being fully vaccinated which represents 75.1% of the eligible population. 4 Importantly, since the launch of the TCIs COVID-19 vaccine booster strategy which was launched on 4th October 2021, a total of 816 persons have received their booster doses.

The Ministry of Health continues to promote the COVID-19 vaccine which is readily accessible and free of cost to residents as a critical defense against COVID19 and a tool which will help the TCI to get back to the new normal amidst the ongoing pandemic.

We don’t have to look far to see what an enviable position the TCI is in as it relates to our access to the COVID-19 vaccine through the UKG. To date, we have received 5 tranches of the vaccine with additional deliveries being arranged in order to ensure that our resident population is protected.

Many countries both near and far are still struggling to meet the demands for the vaccine by their citizens and are experiencing challenges in accessing sufficient quantities of the vaccine to protect vulnerable groups as well as the wider population.

Each country continues to place a focus on the vaccine as a means of managing the pandemic in order to reduce both deaths and hospitalizations. Although we have come far in this regard in the TCI, we can still do better. We need more persons to become vaccinated.

Those who are eligible should get vaccinated to protect those who cannot get vaccinated such as young children below the age of 12 years. We owe it to our fellow citizens to do what we can as individuals to protect the wider community. We still have room for improvement as it relates to persons who would be considered vulnerable as well as younger persons whose uptake remains relatively low.

Pregnant women are another group I would like to highlight as the data around the world has shown that pregnant women who are unvaccinated against COVID19. Pregnant and recently pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared with non-pregnant people. Severe illness includes illness that requires hospitalization, intensive care or illness that results in death. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of preterm birth and might be at increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes, compared with pregnant women without COVID-19. In the UK, it has been recently reported that pregnant women who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 account for almost 20% of critically ill coronavirus patients in England’s hospitals, in a statement from the National Health Service.

One in five patients receiving treatments through a special lung-bypass machine since July were expectant mothers who have not had their first shots. The vaccine as we have said before, is safe for persons who are trying to conceive as well as women who are pregnant. The vaccine is safe in these groups and can reduce the risk of infection and protect both mother and baby. It can also offer protection to the babies through the transmission of antibodies generated in response to the vaccine.

All pregnant women in the TCI are being encouraged to become fully vaccinated.”

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MINISTRY TOURISM STATEMENT ON TRANSITION OF TOURIST BOARD TO A DESTINATION MANAGEMENT ORGANISATION (DMO)

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#TurksandCaicos, October 19, 2021 – The Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands has for the past few months signaled the intention of the Government to transform how the tourism industry is managed. The vision to establish a Destination Management Organization (DMO) and a Regulatory Authority has consistently been discussed and referenced in presentations and budget speeches by the Hon. Premier and Minister responsible for Tourism Hon. Josephine Connolly since assuming office and the reins of Government.

The KPMG Tourism Strategy report of 2015 recommended a change in the structure of management of the tourism industry. Although not defining what that structure would look like, the Government after reviewing several models has outlined that the DMO and Regulatory Authority will best meet our needs.

To this end, the Government has released a tender for a consultancy to assist with the set up these authorities and to also wind down the existing structure of the Tourist Board.

This is meant to be a thorough and open process as all Invitations to Tenders are. The public would have been notified that a tender was released inviting bidders to respond to the invitation.

In the interim as outlined by the Hon. Premier it is important for the Tourist Board to begin to review its ongoing contractual obligations to ensure that the transition will go as smoothly as possible.

As things change, some things will remain the same. The Tourist Board continues its marketing and promotional activities and will work closely with the consultant when that service is procured. The team will also have membership on the working group/advisory committee that will inform the progress of the consultancy.

This does mean the Tourist Board will not exist as it does currently. In order to progress the work and winding down activities, the Premier and Minister for Tourism, asked that the external offices begin to wind down and close, with work conducted via these offices to be done from the Islands.

These offices were affected by the COVID 19 pandemic and have essentially meant that a lot of its work was conducted virtually. Additionally, the New York Office was managed by the periodic visits of the Director and the direct handling of calls and meetings were facilitated virtually. This method will continue with all offices. All trade and fam trips will continue.

COVID 19 did highlight that there was a need to review their existence and find alternative ways to manage them. This will allow for that work to be done expeditiously.

The Premier when he met to discuss the transition to the DMO to the staff, indicated that and gave his promise that no staff would be displaced nor made redundant. What ever structure put in place would mean redefining of roles and responsibilities.

Reviewing and addressing changes in management, deliverables and new ways of doing things are key strategies for any progressive Government.

The Regulatory Authority would have an enhanced role. This authority will set, monitor and maintain standards for all sectors of the industry. It is important that if we are to maintain our position as a five-star, high end destination that all elements of the industry reflect this. The quality of service and product offered by TCI has to reflect this. The Regulatory Authority will work closely with the planned hospitality institute, the community college and all other key stakeholders to ensure the establishment and grounding of standards all across the sector.

There has not been any talk of redundancies as mentioned on social media and rumors to this effect seems to be an attempt to create mischief. A few weeks ago, the Premier and Minister thought it prudent to meet with staff and Directors of the TB. This was important to help clarify the change process and to allay fears of anyone losing their jobs in the process.

Board members have been consistently updated on the process and subsequently a meeting was held October 2, 2021.  The meeting was constructive and staff were promised that they would be kept updated. Dialogue will continue as the project progresses toward a DMO in the new financial year.

The Premier and Minister firmly established their vision to promote local talent as there is an abundance of talent within the Tourist Board. The time has come however to have the structure reviewed and strengthened to meet the new and emerging needs of a dynamic industry.

Additionally, the Premier and Minister of Tourism has met with the TCHTA, the TB, local and international partners on many occasions since the passing of the budget and indeed early in the life of the new regime to discuss its intentions to transition to a DMO.

As of today, no consultant has been engaged as the tender process is still active. Interested parties/companies may find a copy of the tender at www.gov.tc. and are encouraged to apply We look forward to updating the public as we make progress.

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