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Caribbean Tourism and Health Stakeholders forge alliance to safeguard from COVID-19

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#MIAMI (March 5, 2020) – The leaders of the Caribbean tourism and health sectors, who are working together to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout the region, are implementing readiness and response measures to prevent and contain the virus.

While there has been no local spread of the virus in the Caribbean, community transmission is now reported in many other countries than China, some of which have nonstop flights to Caribbean States. 

Therefore, due to the current increased risk of importation of COVID-19 to the region, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has upgraded the risk of Coronavirus disease transmission from “low” to “moderate to high”. 
In light of this, CARPHA Executive Director Dr. Joy St. John is urging health authorities of CARPHA Member States to shift their mindset from preparedness to readiness and rapid response and continue to do all that is necessary to strengthen their capacity to respond to possible importation of cases.  The recently established COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force comprises representatives from CARPHA, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), and the Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC). In a statement issued by the leaders of the task force member organizations, they indicated that a Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed upon by the organizations to foster closer collaboration.  

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“Recognizing the essential need to safeguard the health and safety of residents and visitors to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 threat to the Caribbean; and further recognizing the importance of building upon the collaborative efforts which are already underway, and the need to pool organizational resources to do so; we have agreed to formalize our efforts and messaging through the establishment of the COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force (CCTTF),” the MOU reads.

The organizations acknowledged concerns about the high level of misunderstanding about the virus which has elevated the panic at the global level and resulted in the dissemination of a high level of misinformation. The CCTTF will focus on raising awareness and sharing accurate information; strengthening monitoring at airports, seaports, and hotels and accommodations; improving coordination among stakeholder organizations and locally between tourism and health officials; sharing best practices; training, education and capacity building; and conducting tourism impact research.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of the Caribbean so we’ve come together as organizations already engaged in readiness programs to pool resources so we can ensure the people of our region, and our visitors, remain safe from this viral threat,” read the task force’s statement, which adds “our ability to quickly contain any outbreak will be determined by how efficiently we can pool information and capacities – this agreement allows us to plan for an emergency and move our resources rapidly.”

Dr. Lisa Indar, CARPHA’s Assistant Director for the Surveillance, Disease Prevention & Control Division, explained that the organizations already collaborate, but in view of the spread of the virus in other regions, CARPHA and other task force organizations wanted to proactively solidify cooperation and ensure the task force had what it needed to keep COVID-19 from threatening the health of residents and visitors and the economies of the Caribbean.

The establishment of the Caribbean COVID-19 Tourism Task Force follows a Special Emergency Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government with health and tourism officials and cruise associations in Barbados last weekend, where they agreed to set up a regional protocol with the cruise industry. As an immediate proactive measure to help fight the importation and spread of this novel viral illness, the CCTTF is urging hotel and tourism accommodation providers to register for CARPHA’s Tourism Health Information System (THiS), which was developed several years ago to provide support information, and to help identify and confidentially manage early warning symptoms by employees and guests in a rapid manner.

From Bahamas Ministry of Health

Since January, over 50 additional hotels have joined THiS. To register, visit http://this.carpha.org or https://tinyurl.com/txjo7al. Visitors are also encouraged to self-report at http://this.carpha.org, and click on the self-reporting tab to the bottom left of the screen.

CARPHA advises residents and visitors that the best preventative measures are individual ones they can take by exercising hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, social distancing (staying one meter away from persons with flu) as well as avoiding eating raw and under-cooked meats. 

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Educational Aids Strengthen Learning Experience for Provo Students

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PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands: Scores of students in Providenciales will benefit from back-to-school supplies donated by Sandals Foundation Ambassadors at Beaches Turks and Caicos resort, strengthening the instructional process in four schools at the start of the new school term.

More than 2,000 students from Ianthe Pratt, Enid Capron, Oseta Jolly and the Thelma Lightbourne Primary Schools were presented with a generous supply of educational materials including notebooks, pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, knapsacks, reading material, sports gear and musical instruments from members of the philanthropic arm of the family all-inclusive resort. While sharing the gratitude for the gifts received, the leaders at the various institutions lauded the efforts of the more than 20 volunteers on hand.

Neekimo King, Principal of the Ianthe Pratt Primary School shared, “Beaches Turks and Caicos and the Sandals Foundation over the years have adopted our institution as their own. These reading books will go a far way in increasing our library stock and improving literacy among the students while the physical education and the guidance counseling units have received lots of materials to bolster the learning experience for our students.”

Sophia Garland, Principal of the Enid Capron Primary School was equally elated as she expressed how beneficial resources will be for the teaching and learning process.

“These supplies, including the books, will definitely aid in increasing literacy amongst the students and the many teaching aids that we have been received will create an environment that is conducive for teaching and learning.”

In sharing with the schools, James McAnally, General Manager at Beaches resort noted, “Sandals Foundation and the resort remain committed to the development of the education of our children, the environment and the communities in which we operate. These four government operated primary schools were identified for these supplies to help in fostering their academic and extra-curricular growth.”

McAnally continued, “A big thank you to the Sandals Foundation Ambassadors who came out and helped with making these distributions possible.”

Vice principal of the Oseta Jolly Primary School, Diana Dean, also expressed gratitude noting, “With these tools, I am sure the students will be excited about learning and the teachers will be better equipped to deliver the lessons.”

The Sandals Foundation and Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort have long been supporters of education and community development in Turks and Caicos, donating to a number of schools and youth sports programmes. Since 2011, the organisations have been assisting students at Ianthe Pratt, Enid Capron Primary Schools and other schools across the islands in their holistic development by providing educational supplies and the opportunity for Sandals and Beaches resorts guests to meaningfully engage with the students through a weekly literacy enhancement programme, hosted in partnership with Island Routes Tours – Reading Road Trip.

 

Captions: 

Header: Staff and students from the Enid Capron Primary School share a moment for the cameras with members of the Sandals Foundation team as the school received educational items from the Beaches Turks and Caicos and the Sandals Foundation.

Insert: James McAnally, General Manager, Beaches Turks and Caicos (front left) makes a presentation to members of the Ianthe Pratt Primary School recently with sporting gear and educational items looking on are members of the Sandals Foundation team, Sesame Street Character

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Turks & Caicos Islands Cabinet Report, Meeting held January 10

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#TurksandCaicos, January 26, 2023 – His Excellency the Governor, Nigel Dakin, chaired the 1st meeting of Cabinet on Tuesday 10 January 2023 at the Premier’s Office on Providenciales.

All Members were present.

At this meeting Cabinet:

  • Approved the Fiscal Strategic Policy Statement (FSPS) 2023-27 which includes the fiscal targets of the Government for the next four (4) years to be submitted to the UK Government before being submitted to the House of Assembly for approval. Members also agreed a wide range of associated steps going forwards.
  • Approved an application for duty concessions on the importation of construction materials, furniture, fixtures and fittings from Grace Bay Club Ltd. to allow the resort to complete refurbishment work.
  • Approved an extension and revision to the MOU between the TCI Government and TCI Finance Limited, which leads on the development and growth of Financial Services in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
  • Approved adjustments to the Agriculture Finance Support Programme (Agro- Grant Incentive) for the provision of compensation for registered farms that incurred damages due to Hurricane Fiona in 2022. Members also supported the adoption of a “Farmer Information System”.
  • Approved proposed measures to control the roaming of livestock in the country covering the registration of livestock farms, construction and maintenance of holding facilities, and the transport of livestock.
  • Approved a proposed model and structure for the New Destination Management and Marketing Organisation and Tourism Regulatory Authority. Members also approved an implementation process, the composition of the appointed Board of Directors, staffing implications, and a financing model, including the establishment of Tourism Improvement Districts and the payment of fees by tourism entities.
  • Approved amendments to the Schedule of the Ports Authority (Stevedorers, Fees, and Charges) Regulations 2008, introducing a variation of stevedoring tariffs. Members also agreed next steps.
  • Noted the impact of the moratorium on the issuance of new visas to Hattian nationals originating out of Haiti and approved the implementation of a moratorium on the issuing of all visas to Haitian Nationals entering the Turks and Caicos Islands for six months with effect from 11 January 2023.
  • Approved the granting of a licence to a named individual for the purpose of erecting a swim deck protruding from the Crown parcel 60400/366 into the adjoining sea and the payment of associated annual fees.
  • Approved the renewal of a lease for the rental of office space for the Government’s Planning Department on Providenciales for a period of three years.
  • Discussed the renewal of a lease for the rental of office space for the Government’s Gender Affairs and Social Development Departments on Grand Turk and agreed next steps.
  • Approved the use of existing funds for the use of retrofitting the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College.
  • Approved the gradual outsourcing of janitorial services for government buildings, including schools.
  • Approved the observance of Public Holidays on 8 May 2023 to mark the King’s Coronation and on 19 June 2023 to mark the King’s Birthday.
  • Was updated on issues related to the Ministries of:
  1. Tourism,
  2. Education, and
  3. AG Chambers,
  4. Office of the Deputy Governor, and
  5. Office of the Governor

Further information on these matters will be provided by Ministers in due course.

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JAMAICA: Multibillion-Dollar Shipyard Project Launched

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#Kingston, Jamaica, January 23, 2023 – Economic opportunities are expected to abound for Jamaica, through the establishment of a multibillion-dollar ship repair and maintenance facility in the country.

Called the German Ship Repair Jamaica (GSRJ) Shipyard, the project will provide dry docking (lifting the ship out of the water) for commercial vessels up to 20,000 tons, and a range of maintenance and repair services to vessels operating in and around the Caribbean and Central America.

Phase one of the project, which is to be completed by October/November this year, is being undertaken at an overall cost of nearly $6 billion (or US$37 million), with financial partner Sagicor Bank committing to half of this amount as a bank loan. This will see the first floating dry dock, JAM-DOCK 1, becoming operational.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who  delivered the main address at Tuesday’s (January 24) launch at the Kingston Harbour along the Sir Florizel Glasspole Highway,  said that “this project will earn foreign exchange”.

“It will provide high-quality jobs, and it will contribute greatly to the prosperity of our country,” he added.

Mr. Holness noted that the development will contribute to the positioning of Kingston Harbour as a global logistics hub, pointing out that each year, Jamaica receives approximately 3,000 port calls while approximately 180,000 vessels operate within the region.

“With the investments that are being made in improving Kingston as a logistic hub, we are certain that we have now closed one of the major gaps that have existed and that more ships passing through the region will be inclined to come to Jamaica,” he said.

For his part, GSRJ Limited Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Colonel Martin Rickman, said that the project “represents a new industry for Jamaica with great opportunities for other spin-off businesses, hence even contributing more to the economy”.

He pointed out that Jamaica’s “excellent geo-strategic location” makes the country particularly suitable for having a shipyard.

Detailing the specific operations of the facility, Colonel Rickman explained that “we here at GSRJ Shipyard will be able to lift that ship out of the water to conduct many types of work on the hull, the propeller, engine repairs and the entire nine yards, so this is significant for us”.

By international maritime law, all ships are required to be dry-docked to check for safety and integrity once every five years and attain class certification.

The CEO said that the training component of the project is crucial to enable  workers to meet the international standards to carry out the required operations.

He informed that some persons have already been trained.

In his remarks, President and CEO of Sagicor Group, Christopher Zacca, said that as lead arranger, the organisation is “confident that this new development will make a significant impact on the country’s shipping industry while also contributing to our productive economy”.

“We want all Jamaicans to share the vision of the stakeholders; this is a big deal for Jamaica and we want Kingston to have the leading ship repair and servicing port in the Caribbean,” Mr. Zacca said.

The GSRJ’s partners include Harren and Partner Group, Germany; Kingston Holding, Jamaica; Kloska Group, Germany and HAT-SAN Shipyard, Turkey.

Government agencies involved in the project are the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), the National Land Agency (NLA), National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Attorney General’s Department, and others.

Several private-sector entities are also involved in making the project a reality.

The GSRJ started business in Jamaica in 2016 with the intention to build a ship-repair facility at the Kingston Harbour to boost employment and introduce the country to viable economic activities in the shipping and maritime industry.

 

Contact:  Mickella Anderson

Release: JIS

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