#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos – November 14, 2020 — Perhaps on Wednesday the negotiations for a long standing tax dispute between the Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG) and Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos will begin and perhaps, on December 21st the property which employs 1,800 people will finally reopen to guests.
The website on Thursday night held the date for opening as Wednesday November 18. Today, the Beaches website informs that opening for Beaches Resort in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos is postponed by nearly five weeks to Monday December 21.
The date has been bumping back on the 2020 calendar since July, when international travelers were first welcomed back to Turks and Caicos, a British overseas territory, after it shut borders due to the wave of Covid-19 walloping the world.
No opening in July for Beaches Resort almost immediately impacted airline schedules; it meant less flights and naturally, less tourists and less income for thousands of families and businesses.
At the time, Beaches Resort promised to reopen on October 14 but stunned the nation when the Board of Directors of the resort also explained the opening was hinged on getting resolve in a four-year-old tax row.
October 14 came and went, no opening for the sprawling resort which accounts for around 70 percent of long stay visitors to the Turks and Caicos. Instead, guests who had booked vacations began receiving apologies from the resort and the offer to either re-schedule or to visit a Beaches Resort in Jamaica.
October 15, Beaches reiterated that the decision not to reopen was regrettable but necessary, as there remained no resolution. The TCIG said it was owed over $26 million dollars by Beaches Resort. Beaches Resort claimed it owed nothing and had been, for years, wrongly charged and suffered breaches in its development agreement.
A volley of spicy comments was swatted around in the public domain through press releases and media statements. The stalemate between TCIG and Beaches Resort was now ugly but there was agreement on a mediator and the new challenge turned to confirming a date for negotiation of the dispute to begin.
November 18 was given as the new reopening date for Beaches Resort once and if the matter was settled. November 18 was also the date given by Government for when the negotiation would start.
Despite urging from the likes of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association (TCHTA) to expedite the mediation meetings; there was no change for an earlier date. Onlookers knew this fact would create a problem and now we learn that it has… the Board is also immovable on its terms; the date for opening is no longer November 18 and that means a tourism rebound is stymied by stubbornness.
The initial announcement and stipulation for reopening by Beaches Resort executives came on July 24. One-hundred and thirteen days later and there is still no resolution, therefore the gate of the country’s most significant tourism partner remains closed and the impact is far reaching, even devastating for the TCI’s rebound amidst this unprecedented pandemic.
Beaches Resort and the Turks and Caicos Islands Government are today both quiet about the reopening date change and about whether the negotiation with the mediator actually begins next week.
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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