#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – May 13, 2020 – The Hotel and Tourism sector of the Turks and Caicos Islands will inevitably lose 44 per cent of its workforce in the coming weeks as the coronavirus continues to hold the global travel and tourism industry hostage.
Recommendations emanating from an April survey, commissioned by the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association, TCHTA and conducted by KPMG are direct.
Government should support a Staff Retention Program.
Government should work with lending institutions to secure low interest; low risk loans to cover debt.
And Government should defer tax payments and waive penalty fees and interest charges for tourism businesses.
From the survey report: “Most of the resorts in question are amongst the largest in terms of revenue generation and therefore tax generators. They indicated they had an exemplary prior payment record but with the onset of the pandemic they were experiencing cancellations at unprecedented levels and also had greater difficulty collecting receivables from similarly impacted tour operators. Such receivables included significant accommodation tax components.”
An impressive, 73 per cent of TCHTA members have paid their taxes up to February, but it is unlikely the Government will see any more revenue from the sector anytime soon. There are no tourists in the country and it appears the ban on in-pound passengers via flights or cruises or pleasure craft will persist for at least three more months.
The remaining 27 per cent, who did not pay taxes in February expressed this in the survey: “All of the respondents who had not paid their accommodation tax for February would support the deferral of payment of this amount along with the waiver of interest and penalties and would commit to pay all outstanding amounts.”
Loss of this revenue to the Turks and Caicos Islands Government is already hurting, and the report survey heralds that more fiscal pain is on the way. The majority of survey-taking TCHTA members who have not yet paid taxes for February 2020, admitted that catching-up may not be possible within this year at all, without government leniency.
“If interest and penalties on outstanding amounts are not waived only 33% of the respondents who had not paid their accommodation tax for February could commit to pay all outstanding amounts in financial year 20/21.” Add to the loss in tourism revenue, the loss of economic activity predicated on tourism employees’ salaries. Already, 14 per cent of hotel and tourism workers have been terminated and at this time, those employees reflected in the survey are receiving around 55 per cent of basic pay.
Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.
The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.
The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year. In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.
In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.
Cruising should slow down says PAHO
By Dana Malcolm
‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.
“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”
Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.
Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.
A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.
Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources
By Sherrica Thompson
#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.
Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.
“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.
“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”
Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.
Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.
She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.
There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.
Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.
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