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Tribute to Hon Gordon Stewart; former Bahamas PM Ingraham says ‘Butch’ is Jamaica’s best export

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#TheBahamas – January 5, 2020 – I was shocked and saddened this morning to learn of the passing of the late great pioneering Caribbean tourism champion, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.  Only then did I recall that I had not received my usual Christmas telephone call from the always warm, cheerful and upbeat hotelier.

Hon Hubert Ingrham is a three-term prime minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas; he penned a tribute to Hon Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart who passed due to health complications on Monday January 4, 2021. Mr. Ingraham is now retired.

Butch had made it his custom to telephone Christmas cheer to me every year since our first meeting in St. Lucia in 1992 shortly after my election to office as prime minister for the first time.  There, he gave me the grand tour of his new hotel acquisition “La Toc” and outlined how he proposed to transform the resort into one of his signature five-star all-inclusive hotels. 

Hon Gordon Stewart died on January 4, 2021 and a stream of condolences and tributes have followed the shocking passing of the hotel icon. Stewart is pictured here at the opening of Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau, Bahamas in 2012

It was early days in the creation of his highly acclaimed all-inclusive hotel chain. I encouraged him to come to The Bahamas where he already owned land in my constituency and where he purportedly proposed to develop a Sandals Resort.

He promised to come.  I was to learn that Butch’s word was his bond. 

He came to The Bahamas.  He never built that resort in Abaco but he acquired the then Government-owned and money-losing Balmoral Beach Hotel in Cable Beach.  He transformed the dog-eared property into the Royal Bahamian Balmoral Hotel Resort and Spa investing almost twice what he had undertaken to do.  He expanded the room count, restaurants and beach amenities including an exclusive off-shore beach experience on neighbouring Balmoral Island and he doubled the number of employees at the resort.

Later he expanded the Sandals branch to include his five-star resort on Fowl Cay in the Exumas and later still he acquired the troubled property operated by the Four Seasons chain of hotels at Emerald Bay, Exuma saving an important employment engine in the central Bahamas.

In all my years of contact with him, whether in office or out, he never over-promised and he always fulfilled his commitments.

He was an astute tourism businessman. I valued his views and advice on tourism in our region. 

Butch was, in my estimation the preeminent Caribbean hotelier. His success in competing successfully with some of the largest international hotel brands is testimony to that achievement.  

Still, some of my fondest memories of him include time spent over lazy meals at George Myers’ home and of days spent with him in Jamaica and on the waters of The Bahamas doing one of the things that I love best – fishing.

I think that Butch qualifies as one of Jamaica’s best exports to the Caribbean.  Always a Jamaican at heart, he loved all of the Caribbean. His death is a devastating loss to the Caribbean region.

Hon Gordon Stewart pictured with Hon Andrew Holness, Jamaica Prime Minister (left) and Hon Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica Tourism Minister (right)

He was a good friend to The Bahamas and a reliable corporate citizen. I sometimes felt that we in The Bahamas held a special place in his heart.

I am honoured to have counted him among my friends.  He will be greatly missed.

I offer sincere condolences to all of Butch’s family, to all the employees and associates of Sandals Hotels in The Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean and to the nation of Jamaica which has lost a national hero. 

May he Rest in Peace.

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

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TCI Census Contests Results coming soon

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 30, 2022 – After the revelation that the 2022 National Census had to be put on the back burner because of gang violence, the Department of Statistics is reassuring residents that the competitions held in relation to the census have already been judged and results will be announced soon. 

In a follow up to a Magnetic Media report of Tuesday November 29, we spoke to Shirlen Forbes, who heads the Department of Statistics.  Mr. Forbes explained that the logo, slogan and tagline contests for the census already had their winners.

Prizes for the logo competition ranged from $400 to $1000.The slogan competition open to high school and TCICC students only had prices ranging from $150-$400 and the tagline contest start up to $350 in prizes up for grabs for primary school students in the TCI.

If the reduction in crime holds steady, Forbes said the Census is expected to resume work in January 2023.

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Customers across both Internet Service Providers impacted by freak outage Saturday

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 30, 2022 – Magnetic Media can report, the strange countrywide outage affecting both Flow and Digicel customers over the weekend was a regional issue not just affecting The Turks and Caicos according to the service providers.

Numerous calls and complaints flooded Magnetic Media newsroom on Saturday; angry residents said their internet and mobile services had dropped.

Unusual was that customers of both providers were affected in this simultaneous event, which eventually we learnt had stemmed from beyond TCI shores.

At Digicel, the issues emerged from the night before with a drastic slow-down in speed of its internet services.  Technical staff was able to right the anomaly.

At Flow, the tech team was equally hard at work.  Flow’s serviced dropped completely.

On Monday,  we reached out to Flow and Digicel to find out exactly what caused the national disruption.  Flow Communications Executive Darron Hillaire told us, ““There was a multi-site outage that is still currently being investigated, as far as we know the cause was offshore, and details are still limited at this time.”

Providers in Jamaica confirmed that there were some regional issues that would likely affect countries maybe not in the form of total Internet outages but small drops in service coverage.

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TCI Gov’t Doubles Down on $7.5 Million Spend on Fibre Optic Cable needed for E-Government

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 30, 2022 – Static, crackling and the beeps of on screen messages that WhatsApp reconnecting were frequent interruptions on a recent Magnetic Media telephone interview with the TCI’s Deputy Premier, E. Jay Saunders.  Saunders, also the Minister of Finance with responsibility for E-governance  as he spoke to us from one of the family islands evidencing the need for e-infrastructure intervention; it also happened to be the very subject of our interview.

A new fibre optic cable is coming and it is the lynch pin in the development of a reliable, effective e-government system for the TCI.

Upwards of $7.5 million dollars is allocated to the investment on behalf of taxpayers; a pretty penny but it’s a desperately needed upgrade, said Saunders, who is confident the cable will revolutionize country-wide telecommunications.

“I’m personally excited by it because if we build it we will literally transform the TCI.  It’s one of those things you will look back on and think this was a watershed moment, where the Turks and Caicos moved up a notch.”

He  went on to detail the expected cost and the timing of the project.

“It’s going to be a multi-year project, it’s not going to be started and finished in one year so what we are budgeting in the next financial year is $7.5 million to start with– We want to get it done as quickly as possible.”
He stressed that if more cash was needed it would be provided.

“We think it will be less than two years but more than one year” Saunders said, emphasizing that the 18-month mark was likely.  He explained that he fully expected the cable to not only improve the quality of life in the TCI, but to turn a profit as well.

“Not just a profit- I truly believe that we’ll make a return on the investment for the people of the Turks and Caicos. Government services will certainly improve, particularly as we transition to e-government—and the carriers obviously utilize it.”

Saunders, who is a former CEO of Digicel Turks and Caicos had previously explained the value of the cable to enhancing the network between Provo and Grand Turk  in discussion with Robert Hall on RTC FM; he had appeared on a September 28th episode of Expressions radio talk show.

“All of the carriers send their signal from Providenciales to Middle Caicos and then to South Caicos and then the signal is sent to Grand Turk and so  if something happens to that tower in Middle Caicos, which is the least populated island then South Caicos goes down and Grand Turk goes down. It’s a very fragile setup.”

That setup limits the amount of data customers can receive, even the amount of cable channels Saunders told us, “The limiting factor is the wireless connectivity- once we get that domestic fibre in we will be able to get the same service to the family islands that we have in Provo.”

Talk of the fibre optic cable came up again during the recent town hall meeting held in Provo on November 21.  The Deputy Premier was addressing a question about e-Government.

The need for a revamp of the cable system was especially evident after the passage of Hurricane Fiona. Both Flow and FortisTCI suffered damage to its systems including downed poles which caused weeks of inconvenient service interruptions to residents.

In addition right now there is only one fibre optic cable coming into the islands; if that gets damaged the TCI is effectively disconnected from the Globe.  The new cable is also expected to give the Turks and Caicos full redundancy, in terms of connection to the wider world.

The fibre optic cable is expected to begin implementation  in January.

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