#TurksandCaicosIslands – May 7, 2020 — Tourism sector employers in the Turks and Caicos Islands believe they will have to gradually decrease basic salaries to their staff and may eventually have to lay-off workers, up to 44 per cent of them, as the COVID-19 crises continues to paralyze the travel industry.
The shocking findings herald a possible collapse of the Turks and Caicos economy and are revealed in a survey conducted by KPMG and commissioned by the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association, TCHTA. Compelling statements and suggestions are made to the TCI Government about possibly decreasing the economic disaster which looms now, due to the unprecedented pandemic.
An excerpt from the survey report says: “If the effects of the pandemic are thought to continue for another six months the monthly fall, based on monthly payroll data of respondents, will be US$46m which for the period April to October represents a cumulative fall (including April) in economic activity of approximately US$300m.”
Stretch out any continued negative impacts on travel and tourism due to the Coronavirus, the Turks and Caicos could see economic activity usually enjoyed due to the employees resident within these islands, plummet by as much as US$460m over nine months.
More than 5,600 employees are represented in the report by a range of employers who were surveyed from April 12-20; the cumulative pay for this sampling of workers in hotel and tourism is estimated at $11.9 million per month.
While there is no concrete number of how many TCHTA members were included as the source of the survey data, KPMG informed that 48 per cent of those surveyed had between one and 20 staffers; 31 per cent of responders employ between 21-100 people; twelve percent of the employers have from 101 to 500 staff members and nine per cent of those who completed the survey questions, employ over 500 people.
It was revealed that since the impact of the pandemic on this tourism destination, fifty-six percent of employees were retained, 30 percent were furloughed or temporary laid off and 14 percent have been terminated.
Currently the islands have zero tourists with all ports of entry closed to visitors during the public health crisis; so the leading industry is already in dire straits. The KPMG survey exposes there is still more ground to loose however, including the loss of spending by the employees from the country’s leading industry.
Food shopping to rent to fuel and school fees, dining, banking, services, utilities and entertainment will all suffer tremendous decreases in business activity if 44 percent of the industry workers are laid off and if the remaining 56 per cent are not able to receive their full pay.
KPMG explained it this way: “… it is clear from the survey results that the percentage of base pay being paid in April is not sustainable. Fifty-nine per cent of employers indicated that at the end of April they will have to reduce this percentage of basic pay which will reduce the level of economic activity even further particularly when taking into account the 44 per cent of the workforce that will be let go shortly.”
One solution put forth in the document is a government supported staff retention program.
“Seventy per cent of employers indicated they would be willing to contribute to some form of a Coronavirus staff retention program (“the program”) which would be a program, ideally backed by new legislation, which ensures current employees continue to be employed and receive some pay even though there may be no work for them for a certain period. Employees would also have their continuity of service maintained. They would not be considered to be unemployed. The program would be voluntary with “Participating Employers” and “Non-Participating employers.”
With tourism salaries contributing as much as $55 million per month to the country’s GDP, according to the survey, there is an unequivocal message being transmitted: that Government’s support of a staff retention program would mitigate the severity of further fall out in the face of COVID-19.
In the end, it is stated within the TCHTA and KPMG survey report: “No economy the size of TCI’s can sustain such dramatic falls in economic activity.”
TCI Agriculture launches Plant Clinic
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – These days anything can be online, even a plant clinic! The Turks and Caicos Islands Department of Agriculture wants to help budding and experienced farmers with any plant issues they may have and their new Online Plant Clinic is their solution to help as many Islanders as possible.
Launched on Thursday, June 16 the clinic will operate through Facebook. Individuals with sick plants or pest issues will be required to take a photo of the issue and upload that photo to the department of Agriculture’s Facebook page.
Answers to issues will be given once a month, on every third Thursday, via a public video so all Islanders can have access. The launch was attended by Chief Plant Protection Officer-CPPO Roneta Huntley Thomas, Director of Agriculture Wilhelmina Kissoonsingh, Minister of Agriculture Josephine Connolly, and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Mrs. Cheryl Ann Jones.
Connolly urged residents to “grow your own food and grow TCI.”
Attendees of the launch were allowed to participate in games trying to identify different diseases for a chance at prizes. Residents can now immediately start sending in their photos on the Facebook page.
138 illegals add to the over 900 migrants captured by TCI Joint Forces
#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre and partners continue to work together to protect our borders and keep TCI secure.
During the evening of Wednesday 22nd June 2022 the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre identified a target of interest and immediately started to track the vessel around 5 miles North West of Providenciales travelling at around 7 knots.
The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and intercepted a vessel containing irregular migrants. Following a delicate, coordinated operation with the necessary stabilization of the vessel which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and the occupants were without life vests, the RTCIPF Marine Unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment to support the delicate operation.
The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants and then the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 4:45am with a total of 138 persons, 98 males and 40 female including 1 juvenile, who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department. One male needed immediate medical attention in relation to a leg injury sustained.
Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was desperately overcrowded, unsafe and risked the lives of those on board. It continues to demonstrate the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and Health to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos Islands safe.
In the last couple of months over 900 individuals on 9 dangerous and unseaworthy vessels have been intercepted here in the TCI.
I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call CrimeStoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477, not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
Caption: FILE PHOTO
Turks & Caicos Airline becomes first International flight at Ian Fleming in Jamaica
By Dana Malcolm
#Jamaica, June 25, 2022 – As the Turks and Caicos and Jamaica celebrated a new connection on June 16th as Intercaribbean Airways launched their newest flight to Boscobel, St Mary, half an hour from the famous city of Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s North Coast.
The 007 departed Providenciales at 9:30 am Thursday (June 16) with Lyndon Gardiner, Chairman of InterCaribbean Airways; Trevor Sadler, InterCaribbean Airways CEO; Chris and Kayon Stokes of NCS Money Services; Team Beaches TCI, some media namely SunTCI and Magnetic Media as well as a few Jamaicans anxious to get home.
The 007, Ian Fleming Airport’s first international commercial flight, was received in Jamaica with much fanfare. It was met by a Jamaican delegation including Audley Shaw, Minister of Transport for Jamaica and Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister and a cheerful water cannon spurt to sweeten the arrival of the first international flight at Ian Fleming.
Bartlett was enthusiastic about the prospects that Inter-Caribbean was bringing to Jamaica.
“The presence today of this inaugural flight from a Caribbean island into Boscobel is a bigger statement than what has been made because what it does is to put together the idea of connectivity in a material way. It is how we as a region are going to be able to connect with each other in a way that brings economic value and prosperity to each other and that’s the power of this movement that begins today.”
The minister noted that Tourism was a booming business if only we were aware of how to take charge of it.
“We are about ideas and how to convert ideas into things that have a material value, we are the most consumption-driven activity on planet earth. “ he added “the next critical consideration that has to be looked at …is that we need a single visa regime for touristic purposes that can be provided for visitors coming into your space… a CARICOM visa that allows you entry into all the CARICOM countries.”
Gardiner expressed his excitement for the venture telling the media,“Only the sun covers the Caribbean better than we do.” He also told the gathered press. “We will now have the ability to bring people from across the Caribbean, whether it be for business, pleasure, or furthering multi-destination vacations, by offering Boscobel residents and visitors direct service across the Caribbean and vice versa.”
InterCaribbean Airways will run their flight monthly initially and then upgrade to weekly flights. It would be the third flight between Turks and Caicos and Jamaica; already Kingston and Montego Bay are serviced by the airline based in Providenciales, TCI.
American Airlines and QCAS Aero are also scheduled to begin flights to the Ian Fleming International this year.
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