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Turks and Caicos in RECESSION; GDP to decline by $272.8 million



Magnetic Media photo of Grace Bay Road restaurant & bar with plans to reopen October 15

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos – October 2, 2020 – The Turks and Caicos is now officially in a recession; it is another suffocating symptom of the coronavirus pandemic and to think, only slight inroads have been made by the World Health Organization in the effort to unravel who and what unleashed this mammoth of a crisis on the planet.

In a normal year, the Turks and Caicos Islands would have been hundreds of millions of dollars richer. 

In this year, the ‘Unprecedented and Unpredictable Year 2020’, Sharlene Robinson who is Premier and Finance Minister of the UK overseas territory, has had to make a starkly different announcement about country earnings and the direct and trickle down effects due to the crushing impact on our leading industry:  Tourism.

Hon Sharlene Robinson, TCI Premier & Minister of Finance

“The trigger point for a recession is usually two consecutive quarters of negative growth. All indications are that, despite having to go on lockdown at the end of March, the country experienced economic growth in the first quarter of this year. The second quarter, undoubtedly because of the necessary restrictions which had to be imposed, saw minimal activity and even though the level of activity in this quarter was more than the activity in the second quarter, when compared with the level of activity during the third quarter of last year, we are heading towards a second quarter of negative growth. Hence we can conclude that this economy is heading towards a recession,” said the Premier on September 10 in a national press conference held at the Office of the Premier in Providenciales.

That second quarter ended on September 30 for the TCI. 

It means the Turks and Caicos is now officially two days into a recession and that translates into deep losses for this once burgeoning archipelago, which expected the economy to grow in 2020 by 5.4 percent. 

Tourism contracted by 53 percent.

Providenciales International Airport, PLS outfitted for reopening of the borders which took place on July 22

“In constant market prices it is forecast to decline from $303 million to 142.4 million or by $160.6 million,” informed Premier Robinson when Magnetic Media requested a dollar figure on the whopping shrinkage made known in her presentation early last month.

Overall, the Turks and Caicos Islands economy is forecast to contract by over 26 percent or $204.7 million.

Premier Robinson advised that GDP will “decline from US$ 1.2 Billion to US$ 924.6 million or by $272.8 million.”

During a House of Assembly meeting on August 17, Opposition Leader Washington Misick condemned the PDM Administration’s handling of the pandemic and surmised the country was facing a “deep recession.”

“The PDM does not understand what it will take to reverse the trend of this pandemic, nor the political will to try. They failed to take the measures needed between March 28th and July 22nd to put the needed resources behind the potential prevention and control of a surge of COVID-19 cases after the opening of the border and the resumption of business operations. They did not make the investment to acquire, train and undertake mass testing before the full relaxation of restrictive measures. What we should be looking at today is a reprioritisation of the budget focused on reversing the COVID-19 trend instead we are asked to approve reallocation of funding for a political agenda,” said Misick in his rebuttal of the Supplementary Appropriation Bill.

Hon Washington Misick, TCI Opposition Leader (file photo)

Washington Misick described the economy as being on “life-support” and the tourism industry as running “on fumes”.

And the future for travel and tourism is not looking bright. 

An ominous ‘third wave’ of the highly infectious virus is sweeping the planet and the COVID-19 death toll has surpassed one million. 

This confluence of crises is reviving extreme restrictions, extending barriers to travel and prompting unimagined measures to stem the flow and stop the spread of COVID-19.

New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, on Monday signed an executive order which requires New Yorkers to quarantine for 14-days upon return from any country which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has listed at Level 2 or Level 3. 

The Turks and Caicos, has since August 6, been charted as ‘Level 3: Reconsider Travel’.

“The east coast, and particularly New York, is a major gateway for visitors to our destination. Additionally, the USA market as of 2019 accounted for 82% of air arrivals to the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Consequently, the Tourist Board and Ministry of Tourism have taken actionable steps in response to this decision. The Tourist Board, has reached out directly to New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office and the Ministry of Tourism is working closely with the Ministry of Health to address the CDC’s categorization of Turks and Caicos as a level 3 country, said the Ministry of Tourism and the TCI Tourist Board on October 1 in a joint press statement.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo holds Coronavirus briefing. Dr Howard Zucker Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

It may be a fight in futility though, as the Turks and Caicos has faced this ‘Coronavirus Blacklisting’ before.  The United Kingdom, despite TCI being one of its overseas territories, has since August made quarantine mandatory for 14 days for anyone travelling from these islands.

Income from cruise ship travel is sunk. The CDCs ‘No Sail Order’, just hours before it was due to expire on September 30 is now extended until October 31, 2020.

Grand Turk, the cruise hub of the Turks and Caicos welcomed over 1 million cruise visitors each year but has not seen a ship in port since March.

Premier Robinson in her September 10 address announced budget reallocations to support an extended stimulus package to the tune of $5 million. 

TCI Cabinet meets; file photo pre-COVID-19

A food assistance program, a new round of stimulus payouts which would include ground transportation operators and for the first time, the National Insurance Board would financially support its contributors falling into unemployment or underemployment.

“Throughout this pandemic, TCIG has seen many policy shifts within its budget. To date, it is estimated that TCIG has paid out over $15.3m in expenses relating to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Premier.

The country awaits, however, activation of the new $5 million stimulus payout scheme. Details were promised for mid-September but to date government has been silent on when these funds will manifest for a people who have been in recession long before now and who fear the worst is yet to come.


FortisTCI Presents Sponsorship Funds to the National Cancer Society



Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands (Wednesday, October 20, 2021) – FortisTCI has presented the National Cancer Society of Turks and Caicos Islands with a $5,000 sponsorship to help support the Society’s ongoing programs and the annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk-a-thon, which will be held on Saturday, October 30. FortisTCI President and CEO Ruth Forbes made the presentation on Tuesday, October 5 to the Society’s President Veronica Rigby, and former president Rosemary Jolly.

FortisTCI is a long-standing sponsor of the National Cancer Society and over the years has supported programs such as the annual walk-a-thon and the Society’s Night for the Fight event.

FortisTCI President and CEO Ruth Forbes said, “We are proud to once again show our support for the National Cancer Society and the very important work it does. Cancer is a disease that touches almost everyone in our community, whether directly or indirectly, and it is vital that we have a dedicated organization like the National Cancer Society that continues to educate the community, and provide tangible support to cancer patients. As we mark October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we hope this donation will assist in enabling the Society to expand its outreach efforts.”

National Cancer Society President Veronica Rigby remarked, “On behalf of everyone at the Society, I thank FortisTCI for their continued support. Beyond this sponsorship and their financial commitment through the years, we know we can also count on FortisTCI employees to support our activities. We have a partnership that works well together, as we do everything we can to make a positive difference in the lives of those we serve.”

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Over 75 per cent Fully Vaccinated, Over 800 Boosted says Chief Medical Officer



#TurksandCaicos, October 19, 2021 – “This week’s COVID vaccine report as of 11th October records a total of 28 529 persons or 82% of the population have received the first dose of the COVID19 vaccine with 26 233 persons being fully vaccinated which represents 75.1% of the eligible population. 4 Importantly, since the launch of the TCIs COVID-19 vaccine booster strategy which was launched on 4th October 2021, a total of 816 persons have received their booster doses.

The Ministry of Health continues to promote the COVID-19 vaccine which is readily accessible and free of cost to residents as a critical defense against COVID19 and a tool which will help the TCI to get back to the new normal amidst the ongoing pandemic.

We don’t have to look far to see what an enviable position the TCI is in as it relates to our access to the COVID-19 vaccine through the UKG. To date, we have received 5 tranches of the vaccine with additional deliveries being arranged in order to ensure that our resident population is protected.

Many countries both near and far are still struggling to meet the demands for the vaccine by their citizens and are experiencing challenges in accessing sufficient quantities of the vaccine to protect vulnerable groups as well as the wider population.

Each country continues to place a focus on the vaccine as a means of managing the pandemic in order to reduce both deaths and hospitalizations. Although we have come far in this regard in the TCI, we can still do better. We need more persons to become vaccinated.

Those who are eligible should get vaccinated to protect those who cannot get vaccinated such as young children below the age of 12 years. We owe it to our fellow citizens to do what we can as individuals to protect the wider community. We still have room for improvement as it relates to persons who would be considered vulnerable as well as younger persons whose uptake remains relatively low.

Pregnant women are another group I would like to highlight as the data around the world has shown that pregnant women who are unvaccinated against COVID19. Pregnant and recently pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared with non-pregnant people. Severe illness includes illness that requires hospitalization, intensive care or illness that results in death. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of preterm birth and might be at increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes, compared with pregnant women without COVID-19. In the UK, it has been recently reported that pregnant women who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 account for almost 20% of critically ill coronavirus patients in England’s hospitals, in a statement from the National Health Service.

One in five patients receiving treatments through a special lung-bypass machine since July were expectant mothers who have not had their first shots. The vaccine as we have said before, is safe for persons who are trying to conceive as well as women who are pregnant. The vaccine is safe in these groups and can reduce the risk of infection and protect both mother and baby. It can also offer protection to the babies through the transmission of antibodies generated in response to the vaccine.

All pregnant women in the TCI are being encouraged to become fully vaccinated.”

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#TurksandCaicos, October 19, 2021 – The Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands has for the past few months signaled the intention of the Government to transform how the tourism industry is managed. The vision to establish a Destination Management Organization (DMO) and a Regulatory Authority has consistently been discussed and referenced in presentations and budget speeches by the Hon. Premier and Minister responsible for Tourism Hon. Josephine Connolly since assuming office and the reins of Government.

The KPMG Tourism Strategy report of 2015 recommended a change in the structure of management of the tourism industry. Although not defining what that structure would look like, the Government after reviewing several models has outlined that the DMO and Regulatory Authority will best meet our needs.

To this end, the Government has released a tender for a consultancy to assist with the set up these authorities and to also wind down the existing structure of the Tourist Board.

This is meant to be a thorough and open process as all Invitations to Tenders are. The public would have been notified that a tender was released inviting bidders to respond to the invitation.

In the interim as outlined by the Hon. Premier it is important for the Tourist Board to begin to review its ongoing contractual obligations to ensure that the transition will go as smoothly as possible.

As things change, some things will remain the same. The Tourist Board continues its marketing and promotional activities and will work closely with the consultant when that service is procured. The team will also have membership on the working group/advisory committee that will inform the progress of the consultancy.

This does mean the Tourist Board will not exist as it does currently. In order to progress the work and winding down activities, the Premier and Minister for Tourism, asked that the external offices begin to wind down and close, with work conducted via these offices to be done from the Islands.

These offices were affected by the COVID 19 pandemic and have essentially meant that a lot of its work was conducted virtually. Additionally, the New York Office was managed by the periodic visits of the Director and the direct handling of calls and meetings were facilitated virtually. This method will continue with all offices. All trade and fam trips will continue.

COVID 19 did highlight that there was a need to review their existence and find alternative ways to manage them. This will allow for that work to be done expeditiously.

The Premier when he met to discuss the transition to the DMO to the staff, indicated that and gave his promise that no staff would be displaced nor made redundant. What ever structure put in place would mean redefining of roles and responsibilities.

Reviewing and addressing changes in management, deliverables and new ways of doing things are key strategies for any progressive Government.

The Regulatory Authority would have an enhanced role. This authority will set, monitor and maintain standards for all sectors of the industry. It is important that if we are to maintain our position as a five-star, high end destination that all elements of the industry reflect this. The quality of service and product offered by TCI has to reflect this. The Regulatory Authority will work closely with the planned hospitality institute, the community college and all other key stakeholders to ensure the establishment and grounding of standards all across the sector.

There has not been any talk of redundancies as mentioned on social media and rumors to this effect seems to be an attempt to create mischief. A few weeks ago, the Premier and Minister thought it prudent to meet with staff and Directors of the TB. This was important to help clarify the change process and to allay fears of anyone losing their jobs in the process.

Board members have been consistently updated on the process and subsequently a meeting was held October 2, 2021.  The meeting was constructive and staff were promised that they would be kept updated. Dialogue will continue as the project progresses toward a DMO in the new financial year.

The Premier and Minister firmly established their vision to promote local talent as there is an abundance of talent within the Tourist Board. The time has come however to have the structure reviewed and strengthened to meet the new and emerging needs of a dynamic industry.

Additionally, the Premier and Minister of Tourism has met with the TCHTA, the TB, local and international partners on many occasions since the passing of the budget and indeed early in the life of the new regime to discuss its intentions to transition to a DMO.

As of today, no consultant has been engaged as the tender process is still active. Interested parties/companies may find a copy of the tender at and are encouraged to apply We look forward to updating the public as we make progress.

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