#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – January 25, 2019 – Rumors had been swirling since Thursday that Beaches Resort Villages and Spa in the Turks and Caicos was planning a long term shut down in 2021 due to a massive bill, which is in dispute, with the Turks and Caicos Islands Government.
“Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa will be closed from September 3rd to October15th in 2019 and from September 7th to October 22, 2020, and then for an indefinite period from January 2021.”
Government taxes were reportedly calculated in a way that is not sitting well with Sandals Resorts International, which owns the Beaches family resorts. The calculations by the Ministry of Finance and backed by the Attorney General’s Chambers have reportedly been in dispute for years.
The lingering bill in dispute has now ballooned to some $60 million, we are told.
Finance Ministers have asked for the debt to be treated with leniency to no avail and once again exposes the topsy-turvy order of governance in the Turks and Caicos Islands, which is actually led by the Civil Service and not elected politicians.
“The upcoming closures of Beaches Turks & Caicos are the result of several critical and long-standing issues which have impacted our operations over the past several years. We apologize for any inconvenience caused to our customers and look forward to welcoming them back soon.”
Naturally, this decision by Beaches Resorts is being cited as catastrophic for the Turks and Caicos Tourism industry, as Beaches is a key linchpin in the success of air arrivals to Providenciales, in particular.
Beaches explained: “Guests traveling between now and January 2021 that are not impacted by these closures will receive the vacation experience that we have become known for. All features and facilities of the resort will be open and operating per usual. For impacted guests, we are committed to making this as seamless as possible by allowing them to change their travel dates to Beaches Turks & Caicos or travel on their original travel dates to one of our other locations in Jamaica, Beaches Negril or Beaches Ocho Rios, at no additional cost, including airfare change fees. Guests may also choose to travel to any of our 16 Sandals Resorts.”
Magnetic Media has reached out to Premier and Finance Minister Sharlene Robinson on the matter.
The statement from Beaches Resort is titled: ‘BTC Pending Closure’.
Statement on Incident Involving Visitor on 2nd October 2022
#TurksandCaicos, October 4, 2022 – The Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) regrets the unfortunate incident involving the death of a visitor to our islands on 2nd October 2022. The incident which occurred was accidental and not one in which the victim was targeted. While the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police force (RTCIPF) continues their investigations, we wish to reassure the public (citizens, residents, and visitors alike) that the safety and security of all, is our top priority.
The TCI has long established itself as a safe destination for visitors from around the world. Evidence of this can be seen in the countless awards the destination has won, most recently at the World Travel Awards. Our commitment to providing safety to residents and visitors is unwavering. The government will continue to work with local authorities including the RTCIPF and our partners in the international community to protect residents and visitors alike.
The incident which occurred on the date mentioned above is one that is rare and does not reflect who we are as a people. On behalf of the government and people of these islands, we extend our sympathies to the family and friends of the victim.
As this matter is now an on-going police investigation, further statements will be referred to RTCIPF.
The TCI remains a safe destination and the government is working assiduously for it to remain as such.
COVID Vaccine mandate expires Dec 31, TCIG stalled on ending it sooner
By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, September 30, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos does not seem primed to do away with its Covid-19 vaccine mandate for entry to the islands just yet, Magnetic Media learned from Jamell Robinson, Minister of Health and Human Services.
Robinson maintained that “As usual all remaining regulations are continuously under review. Current regulations expire December 31st.”
Despite them being under constant review, the Minister gave no indication that the Turks and Caicos Islands Government would accelerate any change to the rule.
The question though, is why? The Turks and Caicos Islands Government has continuously stated that it is following the science and the UKs lead when it comes to the country’s Covid-19 response. The UK dropped its vaccine mandate for entry back in March as the country was coming off of the Omicron wave and dozens of other countries have done so since.
In terms of the science, not only does vaccination not stop the virus from spreading to vulnerable islanders, the earliest vaccines and boosters have notoriously little efficacy against the circulating variants.
In addition, there is little evidence to suggest that allowing unvaccinated individuals within borders has a negative effect on that country’s Covid case count.
Not only are the islands missing out on a major chunk of their source markets who are unvaccinated, homeowners who are unvaccinated have not been able to return to or see their property investments since the mandate was adopted in September 2021.
Deputy Premier E Jay Sanders had explained that, “thanks to the country’s over performing tourism sector when the decision is made to pull back that requirement it will be done not out of pressure but with the TCI people in mind.”
It’s unclear what the reasoning behind keeping the mandate is when it now has been proven to provide so little protection.
Additionally, it was explained that multiple attempts by the Ministry of Health to secure avenues for unvaccinated homeowners in the Turks and Caicos to visit their properties have been rebuffed at the Cabinet level.
Robinson was addressing the continued COVID-19 vaccine requirement for travel to the TCI which blocks unvaccinated tourists and homeowners from entering the island.
“On several occasions, I have presented possible pathways for homeowners to be able to visit their properties outside of a full repeal of the vaccine entry mandate and each time there was not full support for it moving forward in Cabinet,” he said.
Magnetic Media has spoken to irate and broken-hearted homeowners who have not been able to visit their properties in a year despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and other fees to have a home on the islands.
The Health Ministry however says his team is now preparing a cabinet paper to weigh the pros and cons of continuing with the vaccine mandate. Robinson said that paper has not made the agenda as yet, taking a back seat to more pressing issues including the passing of Hurricane Fiona.
The paper should reach cabinet “soon” but this is not a guarantee that the measure will be dropped. Robinson also defended the TCIG’s current policy.
“Based on the numbers I have received from the (tourism) industry to date, being one of the few only remaining destinations with a vaccine mandate doesn’t seem to be hurting our projected occupancy rates for the months of December, January, and February across all segments of the Industry.”
The issue of why the vaccine mandate persists are heightened due to major announcements in recent days including, Joe Biden, US president declaring that the Coronavirus Pandemic “is over”; Canada moving to end its vaccine entry requirement on September 30 and The Bahamas calling off mandatory testing as of September 22 and rescinding the mask rule (for most public places) on October 1.
The mandatory vaccine measure came into effect in September 2021 prior to the widespread emergence of Omicron and lowered vaccine efficacy. It is also a mandatory requirement for guest workers in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Turks and Caicos Islands Rebounding Quickly from Hurricane Fiona
#TurksandCaicos, September 30, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos Islands is working around the clock to quickly rebound from the effects of Hurricane Fiona, which hit the islands as a Category 3 storm on Tuesday, September 20th 2022. By 11:50PM EDT of the same day, the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) advised that hurricane warning for the Turks and Caicos Islands was discontinued and stated that the National All-Clear was given by the Department of Meteorology.
Preliminary assessments indicate that significant damage across the country was minimal. Major airport updates are as follows:
- The Providenciales International Airport re-opened on Wednesday, September 21st 2022 for all flight operations.
- The South Caicos Airport re-opened on Thursday, September 22nd 2022 for all flight operations
- The JAGS McCartney International Airport in Grand Turk re-opened on Thursday, September 22nd for emergency and medical flights
- Airport operations on North Caicos and Salt Cay remain closed until further notice
Carnival Cruise Line is currently working alongside the Turks and Caicos Islands Government to conduct preliminary assessments of the port facility at the Grand Turk Cruise Center. Once completed, all necessary measures will be taken to have the port operating as soon as possible.
Yesterday, during the briefing in the NEOC, the Acting Governor, Her Excellency Anya Williams advised that Public Service in Providenciales would re-open on Thursday, September 22nd 2022 – restoring normal service delivery.
“We thank God that the Turks and Caicos Islands was able to hold strong through Hurricane Fiona – with only minor damages and without any lives lost. The following day after receiving the National All-Clear from the NEOC, the hub to the Turks and Caicos Islands – the Providenciales International Airport – was re-opened and international flights arrived” stated Minister of Tourism, Hon. Josephine Connolly. “But while we were extremely fortunate, we acknowledge that some of our neighbouring countries were not and our thoughts and prayers are with them”, added Hon. Connolly.
“A day after Hurricane Fiona, we were already welcoming guests back to the home of the World’s Best Beach, Providenciales”, stated Acting Director of Tourism, Mary Lightbourne. “Resorts and hotels in Provo are fully operational, so we encourage guests to keep their travel plans to visit. And in the upcoming days, we will welcome visitors to our sister islands” added Lightbourne.
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