#Providenciales, July 6, 2020 – Many coral reef scientists see exceptional value in sharing research with colleagues and the public, but also struggle with the high ecological and financial costs of attending traditional conferences. The ecological costs include carbon emissions from the travel of attendees. Thereby, a traditional conference designed to strengthen global knowledge on coral reefs directly contributes to the destruction of coral reefs.
With multiple widespread bleaching events in the past 5 years and the emergence of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease as an immediate threat, we are truly at the point where we need all hands on deck to tackle climate change and the protection of our reefs. There are many things we can all do to contribute to the battle against the climate crisis. Frankly, we need to do them all. We needed to be doing them all decades ago. While we need societal and political support to be effective in slowing down the climate crisis and avoiding the worst predictions, coral reef scientists, managers, and enthusiasts can lead by example by changing our business-as-usual approach to conferences to decrease our carbon emissions. We cannot save the reefs through research alone. We also need to be part of the energy that drives the necessary unprecedented social change.
When people asked the late Ruth Gates, ‘what can I do to help save the coral reefs?’ she advised that we pick something and do it. That’s what has been done with Global Coral Reef Week. The organizers decided it was time for the coral reef research community to have a conference format that did not require them to emit CO2 through flying. With a vision of virtually connecting a collection of local hubs across the globe, so that participants could network in person with their local colleagues while sharing their research with the global community, in August of 2019, Chelsie Counsell, Franziska Elmer & Judith Lang, committed their spare time to organizing Global Coral Reef Week.
With low CO2 emissions and high access to science as our core mission statement, they welcomed every location interested to host a local event. The School for Field Studies on South Caicos was one of these 16 international locations that decided to be part of the first ever Global Coral Reef Week. We excited about this idea because traditional conferences are often out of reach for local scientists and practitioners due to the financial costs of attendance.
The world doesn’t always follow plans, and as COVID-19 continues to up-end everyone’s sense of normal, we are operating entirely virtually for the inaugural Global Coral Reef Week conference. We have over 100 contributed research talks and recorded workshops available for viewing on the Global Coral Reef Week YouTube channel, nine plenary talks followed by live discussion sessions with the speakers, three live sessions with multiple speakers dedicated to specific locations and topics, two virtual networking events, and a trivia event. Thanks to sponsorship from The Company of Biologists, Tradewind Colours, Marine Conservation without Borders, and donations from colleagues, this virtual conference is completely free. To date, over 1000 people have registered to participate in Global Coral Reef Week, partly due to immense advertisement in Brazil by Encontro Recifal Brasileiro.
People can visit www.coralreefweek.org and subscribe to receive email updates and links to content.
TCI Tourist Board – Represented at New York Travel & Adventure Show
Manhattan, New York (Friday, February 3, 2023) – The Turks and Caicos Islands recently participated in the successful New York Travel & Adventure Show held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, New York from Saturday, January 28th – Sunday, January 29th. The event was New York’s largest travel gathering since 2019, providing the perfect platform to showcase the Turks and Caicos Islands and its unique luxury offerings as a multi-island destination. This was part of a larger effort by the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board to showcase the destination at several major travel shows in the United States.
Mary Lightbourne, the Acting Director of Tourism, and Gabriel Saunders, the Senior Public Relations Officer, proudly represented the Turks and Caicos Islands at the event and emphasized its status as a premium travel destination. During the event, they engaged with travel enthusiasts, media outlets, influencers, and more to further increase visibility about the World’s Top Trending Travel Destination for Fall 2022. Visitors at the booth were given informational brochures on the destination and treated to a tasting of Bambarra rum, as well as Bambarra rum cakes. As a special souvenir, they were also gifted Beach Buddies keychains, designed as queen conch shells, spiny lobsters, Turks Head cacti, flamingos, and pelicans – symbolizing the coat of arms of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“The New York Travel & Adventure Show was an ideal platform to facilitate us bringing the stunning beauty and diverse offerings of the Turks and Caicos Islands to a massive audience of travel enthusiasts”, stated Mary Lightbourne. “Through this opportunity, we were able to foster valuable connections with key industry leaders and share our islands’ captivating allure with travel lovers in a significant source market”, added Lightbourne.
Attendees had the chance to interact with the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board’s representatives and learn about the destination’s diverse offerings, including world-class beaches, turquoise waters, luxury resorts, and vibrant culture.
“We were honoured to showcase the distinctive character of our destination and provide attendees with a taste of the local flavours and products that make our tourism product truly remarkable,” said Gabriel Saunders. “The Turks and Caicos Islands offers an unparalleled travel experience and we were grateful for the opportunity to inspire more people to come discover its beauty” added Saunders.
The New York Travel & Adventure Show was a two-day event that brought together top travel experts, destinations, and cultural attractions from around the world to provide inspiration and information to travel enthusiasts. The Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board also represented the destination at the recent Chicago Travel & Adventure Show and will be an exhibitor at the upcoming Atlanta Travel & Adventure Show and the Dallas Travel & Adventure Show.
The Idea that became an Iconic Event for Providenciales, Turks & Caicos
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, February 2, 2023 – An idea executed to perfection with the help of the entire Turks and Caicos community, that’s Island Fish Fry. Born 10 years ago, in January 2013, it was a partnership between the Government, Private institutions, vendors and supporters all working together to make develop an authentic TCI experience; today it is an indisputable success.
Since its inception, Island Fish Fry has become a staple of the TCI community. It’s where you can get your T-shirts to Lobster Mac and Cheese, a taste of Monkey Bag rum or TCI brewed beer, natural coconut water in branded coconut mugs, the oceanic beauty captured in charms and household items or glittering handmade bangles with entrepreneurs and crafters clamouring for their space at the ‘Fry’.
We spoke to several people who told us about the history of the event and what they love most about the evolution and realization of Island Fish Fry Ralph Higgs, Former TCI Tourist Board Director under whose direction the event was conceptualised recalled its beginnings.
“I do remember my first Fish Fry, it was the 29th of January 2013— It came as a result of many of our local businesses, mainly restaurants and other businesses featured at the fish fry saying ‘we don’t have an avenue or an outlet where tourists can come and try our products’. Hence the idea of a weekly fish fry where tourists can come and try our products, try the cuisine, see the art and craft and then go on to enjoy it.”
Higgs says the event is a source of pride especially considering its capacity to nurture the arts in young Turks and Caicos Islanders
“Well I feel proud of the event but more so many of our local businesses and artisans that have found themselves at fish fry,” he used Wellington Williams, one of the country’s most prolific jewellery makers, as an example, “I remember him as a little boy trying to find his way in that business and he approached us at the Tourist Board for space at the Fish Fry and we were delighted to have him display his art. I think the rest is history. He is a success story by every definition and there are many others who have been able to find their footing because of the event.”
In a decade, the well-loved event has not faltered, only inclement weather and the Covid-19 pandemic have the reputation of putting the brakes on the outdoor festivity which features live music, community dancers, on the grill cooking and picnic styled eating. Yet, even those challenges were overcome.
In 2021, Josephine Connolly became the country’s newest Minister of Tourism and in our chat with her about Island Fish Fry, Connolly described her elation when she was able to lead a team into resuming the event, finally.
“Fish Fry belongs to the people of this country— We made a concerted effort to make sure that a sense of normalcy returned to the people of this country, our tourist arrivals [had] continued to increase during COVID therefore we had to continue with the fish fry to ensure that our guests received their TCI flavour though it. I am elated that Fish Fry returned and the entire Turks and Caicos and our guests are elated.”
Higgs praised the continuity of the event highlighting the vendors, musicians, entertainers, crafters, officials and others who have persevered to ensure there was a rich range of Turks and Caicos creativity and culinary skill on display week after week.
“There were many who came and showed support and many of them are still at the fish fry playing music, selling their goods and services and I’m so proud of all of them.”
Island Fish Fry celebrated its ten year anniversary on Thursday January 26th 2023.
Consumer protection, 85 businesses to be put under watch
By Dana Malcolm
February 2, 2023 – Grocery stores and dozens of other businesses will be under the microscope soon as the government begins aggressively enforcing the Consumer Protection Ordinance passed back in 2016 with an all-new Compliance and Regulatory Enforcement (C.A.R.E) Drive.
Carried out by the Department of Trade, Industry, and Fair Competition the drive aims to “actively educate providers whilst enforcing the main provisions to protect consumers under the Consumer Protection Ordinance,” a press release explained.
Firstly, Consumer Officers charged with protecting the people of the TCI from unfair business practices will be assessing the prices of selected breadbasket items in 23 different stores countrywide each month to see whether price gouging is being carried out by businesses.
Breadbasket items are currently duty-free under the Food and Fuel Tax Break until the end of the financial year in March and all savings from those tax exemptions should be passed on directly to the consumer. After each assessment, which will continue for several months at least a monthly price report will be published on the Department of Trade’s website.
In addition, the Consumer Officers will be monitoring other business activities across the country “to ensure that providers are compliant with their duties to consumers.”
Those responsibilities include:
- Giving customers certain basic information about goods and services being sold;
- Informing consumers about terms and conditions before any payment is made (e.g., warranties, refunds, returns, exchanges, etc.) and;
- Abstaining from misleading and deceptive conduct, false representation and unfair business practices.
The government says they will reach at least 85 businesses with the C.A.R.E. Drive but they did not indicate the process behind how these businesses had been singled out. Non-compliant ones will be fined after a thorough investigation and warnings are issued by the Department of Trade.
With this in mind, business owners are being encouraged to familiarize themselves with their duties under the Ordinance lest they be caught in breach. The government did not say what entities would be assessed and whether that included major retail grocery stores, gasoline dealers, water companies, electricity providers, telecommunications companies and other essential providers of the services that all islanders spend on.
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