Opp-Ed: ‘Winter is Coming …but TCI tourism to see hell in 2020’
November 9, 2020 — While that’s good news for most Caribbean destinations since it’s the peak season for travel and to make money, for the Turks and Caicos Islands it’s as worrying as it is for the people of King’s Landing in Game of Thrones; bringing only fear, pain and anxiety.
But unlike the leaders in George R.R. Martin’s masterpiece who were able to find a solution to save their people, the leaders in the TCI seem helpless – or maybe clueless – to get the vital hotel sector reopened in order to save the good people of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
At the heart of it remains this ongoing, now ancient standoff with Beaches Resorts, with no sign of a resolution any time soon. But as winter’s icy touch threatens to dampen Thanksgiving and Christmas for the TCI, elsewhere the sun is starting to shine through.
This week Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonzalves, signed off on plans to develop a 1,200 room Beaches Resort on that island! That should send a clear message to all and sundry in the TCI, that as we stand still the world is moving on, and the once precious dominion we had over the Beaches product is starting to whittle away.
Such a development would no doubt kickstart any forward thinking, progressive administration into action to seal what we have here in the TCI, but the current one can’t even solve a four-year old disagreement. What does that say for the future of the TCI? Are we going to awake one day and find out that the impossible is suddenly a reality? That we have lost our grip on the family vacation market that Beaches TCI has had for so long?
Is this the administration that will sound the death knell for travel and tourism? Only the blind will not admit that Beaches is not just the anchor resort of the TCI, it is the very lifeline that keeps our entire sector alive. Imaginary reports about rising occupancy levels do little to fill a hungry man’s belly. We all know better.
That is not meant to be sensational, but is meant to drive home a hard, hard truth, and if we think it can’t happen well guess what, it’s happening! Instead of earning money from our natural treasures as we have been doing for decades, we are now cap-in-hand for grants and loans in order keep Poor Man Hunger from whispering in Belongers’ ears.
That is the fate of people already hard hit by COVID. From one calamity to another. But while the pandemic is out of our control, the economy is something we can fix. I only wish our leaders truly cared for the suffering of people as they claim. Hand-outs are not how you empower people, you allow them to work and that then gives them dignity.
What kind of administration just twiddles its thumbs while keeping its people in financial limbo when it has the power to do something about it? We elected you to provide solutions, not to drown us with your excuses.
This is not the Christmas Story we would have written for ourselves. We thought a new day was coming. That we would rise like our other Caribbean brothers and sisters in leading the way in controlling the pandemic; that we would set an example for how to jump-start the economy in a sustainable manner.
But alas, the skies continue to darken. The wind chills the depth of our very being. The candle 10 miles away offers no warmth. Instead of waking from our slumber we are being asked to hibernate. Winter is coming.
Keisha N. Simmons
Millions to come from FSC
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – Revenue from the Turks and Caicos’ Financial Services Sector will more than double in the next few years, if E Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister gets his way. It ‘s one of the reasons the country is investing so much capital into getting off of the EU blacklist and becoming a secure trustworthy financial destination.
“The FSC’s revenues for 2020/21 was $10.5M— the figures for 2021/22, would be about similar,” he said. He further explained that $10.5 million from the FSC represented about 2.6 percent of the country’s 408.5-million-dollar revenue. Though it increased to $14 million in the 2021/22 financial year, finance is still a small fry compared to tourism or even stamp duties but that will change, says Saunders.
“My revenue goal for the Government by the year 2029 [or] the election after the next election – is $500M. By that time, I want the financial sector (FSC) revenues to represent at least 5% ($25M). So that’s my goal for the financial sector by 2029.”
This goal, should it be met, would increase the Government’s revenue by 100 million dollars, a significant increase in spending power for local upgrades and improvements for Turks and Caicos residents and visitors.
Saunders says it’s time for the TCI to diversify its sources of revenue to make sure that what happened in the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw residents out of a job for months, will not happen again. Tourism now makes up around 80 percent of the country’s GDP. The Minister of Finance wants to push that down to 60 or even 50 percent.
New ASHLEY’S LEARNING CENTRE CONCERT
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – Musicians from the New World Symphony will be in the Turks and Caicos in concert next month and residents are invited to attend in support of the future of Ashley’s Learning Center.
A fairly young orchestral academy based in Miami, the New World Symphony was launched in the 1980s by 1987, Michael Tilson Thomas and Ted Arison,Carnival Cruises founder. From the 1500 applicants who vie for a spot each year, the symphony accepts around 35 music graduates annually for training fellowships.
A select few of those graduates will be in country on April 8th headlining at the Ashley’s Learning Center concert ‘We’re all in this together’. The concert which also feature local artistes will be held at Brayton Hall on Venetian Road from 6 pm to 8:30 pm
Tickets are available ON ISLEHELP $75 PER GENERAL SEAT $125 PER PREMIUM SEAT $195 PER GALLERY SEAT – with /FREFRESHMENTS.
For TICKET RESERVATIONs you can call: 649-341-2304 or email EVENTS@ASHLEYSLEARNINGCENTER.ORG
Women’s Health Connectivity and health a study for TCI’S benefit
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – As the country moves toward new fiber optic connectivity, bridging the digital divide could be a game changer for healthcare and other family-friendly services in the TCI.
The power of universal digital connectivity across countries was one of the recurring themes when the United Nations in partnership with the Network of Afro Caribbean Women and the Diaspora recently explored how technology, innovation and education are being used to address women’s health issues.
The session aimed to highlight success stories and explore how those processes can be replicated to help women and girls globally including in The Turks and Caicos.
The UN explained that despite holding a 70 percent majority in healthcare jobs, women are poorly represented in leadership roles and subject to systemic gender inequalities that can make receiving healthcare challenging.
As delegates from Chile and Rwanda, who were also partners in the session, shared the upgrades to their countries’ systems that had significantly improved the level of care available to their women, digital connectivity was a deciding factor.
In Rwanda the health ministries have begun to use drones to deliver medicine, SMS messages to alert about health threats and a completely digitized health care that eliminates paper documents for pregnant women and makes records accessible to any doctor, immediately.
Rwandan delegate, Rose Rwabuhihi shared tips that countries should keep in mind when trying to implement new processes to benefit women and the wider community.
- Partnership and sustainability are key factors to successful programs. She urged governments not to give up on projects or allow their partners to give up on them halfway.
- Education campaigns to introduce residents to the technology: “We need to build skills and deepen the knowledge so they can use the innovations that have been put in place especially in rural areas.
Poor connectivity and technological issues have plagued the TCI for years especially in the islands outside of Providenciales. Government has substantially acknowledged this disparity in communications services and is investing in a new undersea cable to augment services in the Turks and Caicos.
The UNs perspectives can now ignite a fire for even more family friendly, digital services.
In fact,Senator Yasna Provoste Campillay, the Chilean Delegate explained how connectivity and videoconferencing had been used to reach the county’s women in the most rural of areas. Chile is a long country, its landmass spread lengthwise creating unique communication challenges. While healthcare in Chile is separated by length the Turks and Caicos islands are disconnected by the ocean and solutions that prove useful for the South American country could well be worth implementing locally.
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