#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.
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.
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.