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Nearly 300 people sent home today as Turks and Caicos Collection closes indefinitely

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Alexandra Resort, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – August 5, 2020 – At least 250 people were laid off and 13 executives made redundant today at the Turks and Caicos Collection of Resorts as the financial onslaught of the travel and tourism industry by COVID-19, escalates.

Lord Michael Ashcroft, Chairman of Waterloo Investment Holdings Ltd (WIHL), which owns the Collection, is in country and made known the painful decisions, Magnetic Media is told, in a private meeting with top executives.  By this afternoon, there came a NOTICE OF LAYOFF which said, in part:

“Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the hospitality industry and the continuous fallouts that we experience daily, we have made the decision to lay off employees in an effort to mitigate the loss of business experienced to date.”

Blue Haven and Beach House had closed in the early days of the pandemic’s impact on Turks and Caicos tourism.  The Alexandra and Ambergris Cay were reopened on July 22 but guest bookings for the Alexandra were a far cry from what is needed to sustain the all-inclusive operation.

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At peak there were 105 guests on property, reflecting a 30 percent occupancy level.

Staff from the Beach House, Blue Haven and the Alexandra were being rotated – an effort which kept staff employed, albeit with a lesser salary.

Employees were today surprised by the announcement which also confirmed an eight week layoff beginning on August 10.

Until there is a significant uptick in tourism, the Alexandra will close to tourists this coming Sunday August 9; most disconcerting is that no reopening date was revealed.

Ambergris Cay, which is a private island, also owned by WIHL has had a different experience largely due to the higher net worth of the multi-million-dollar home owners.  Ambergris Cay has its own airstrip, which has been welcoming private jets since tourism reopened in late July.

While interest in Turks and Caicos vacations have been healthy, there are at least two factors which have brought momentum to a crawl:  the five-day requirement of a negativeCOVID-19  PCR test by the TCI Assured program and the delay in the  reopening of Beaches Resort Villages and Spa.

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Turn-around time on COVID-19 tests in the United States (and Caribbean region) are generally falling outside of the 5-day TCI public health requirement.

The Beaches Resort announcement of reopening not until October 14, likely prompted a reduction of flights into Providenciales during August by both Delta and Jet Blue airline companies.

The 13 expatriate executives have all been made redundant and given severance pay as stipulated by law.  The same is said of the 250 staff members, who as of August 10 will be furloughed.

Owners of residences at all properties will be allowed to visit, unencumbered.

Education

TCI Agriculture launches Plant Clinic

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#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.

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Caribbean News

138 illegals add to the over 900 migrants captured by TCI Joint Forces

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FILE PHOTO

#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

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Caribbean News

Turks & Caicos Airline becomes first International flight at Ian Fleming in Jamaica

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#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 Ian Fleming Airport is named for the famous author who penned the James Bond series just miles away from the airport. Never one to miss a theme, InterCaribbean dubbed their flight the JY 007.

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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