#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – August 25, 2020 – September will be starved of flights to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos and for the travel industry the slim serving of passengers and tourists could also mean starved pantries for the islands’ families.
Only international carriers, American Airlines and JetBlue will continue service to the Turks and Caicos throughout September; a usually slow season for the country. Uncharacteristically, British Airways has taken Providenciales off the schedule for next month.
Covid-19 fears kidnapped the busy tourism period through lock downs and curfews and border closures in a mad scramble to block and slow spread of the contagion, which is now nearing one million people dead.
Southwest Airlines had announced, for them, there would be no return until 2021.
British Airways about a month ago ended its commutes to Providenciales; the action has made European travel vexing for those going and coming.
Delta Airlines recently stopped flights to Turks and Caicos and will not return until November 1.
The decision by Delta is yet another casualty in what is increasingly becoming an economic war against the enigmatic enemy, which is COVID-19.
Delta initially reduced flights from its hub in Atlanta, Georgia to twice weekly, on Saturdays and Sundays only. Now, the airline which ran daily flights between the Turks and Caicos and the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, is temporarily halted.
Sadly, reduced flights to Providenciales were anticipated for a variety of reasons.
Not least among them, the announcement by Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos to reopen, not on July 22 as did the country’s airport borders, but in mid-October.
The competitiveness for COVID-19 test results within the requisite five days for approved travel to the TCI has also been fingered as tedious to travellers. Couple the entry requirement with measures by other countries to keep coronavirus case numbers down, and mandatory self-isolation upon return in destinations like the UK and Canada, travel has become a frenzied experience not worth the trip.
Air travel is no longer easy, no longer fun and potentially unsafe, yet it is the lifeline between the Turks and Caicos and its 500,000 long-stay visitors, which was for the first time achieved in 2019.
Air Canada has also decided to discontinue flights to the Providenciales International Airport.
The airline explains to Canadians that: “due to the impacts of COVID-19, government travel advisories and/or health and safety concerns” flights will end in September.
Air Canada will cease service on September 12, Magnetic Media is informed. The airline plans to return to the PLS on October 3.
While flights are usually decreased in September; travel and tourism professionals admit the pandemic magnifies the losses.
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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