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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.

Caribbean News

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.

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Caribbean News

The Idea that became an Iconic Event for Providenciales, Turks & Caicos



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer



#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.

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Bahamas News

Consumer protection, 85 businesses to be put under watch 



By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer



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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