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CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC SURVIVAL TIED TO BALANCING HEALTH SAFETY AND RESPONSIBLE TOURISM

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PRESS RELEASE (February 16, 2021): Despite having one of the world’s lowest rates of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections, hospitalizations and deaths, the Caribbean’s economic survival is in serious jeopardy as tourism-dependent economies struggle with the consequences of the pandemic and travel restrictions being imposed and considered by its most popular countries of origin for travel.

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) welcomed the new United States administration’s balanced international travel measures which call for returning travelers and those entering the United States to show proof of receiving a negative antigen or PCR test while not mandating quarantines but recommending self-isolation upon returning.  

The organization, whose membership includes 33 of the region’s national hotel and tourism associations, expressed its appreciation and concerns in a letter to President Joseph Biden and U.S. government officials last week in response to the Administration’s call for input on international travel protocols as part of an Executive Order on the matter. 

In throwing its support behind requiring travelers entering the U.S. to show proof of a negative antigen test within 72 hours of travel, CHTA cautioned against the imposition of mandatory PCR tests for travelers returning to or entering the U.S. from the Caribbean highlighting the stringent virus containment measures already in place within the region and the region’s challenges in administering a much larger number of PCR tests. The organization stated that should this become a new requirement, it would severely strain the current testing capacity of many Caribbean jurisdictions citing the availability, costs, and processing time as essentially rendering much of the region unable to meet local and U.S. traveler testing demand.

In recent weeks, the region has moved aggressively to increase its capacity to administer PCR and antigen tests as it aims to meet local demand and adhere to new testing requirements for travelers and returning residents to its key source markets. This stepped-up effort followed earlier announcements last month by Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union which imposed worldwide measures which essentially stopped all international travel to and from those areas. 

The U.S. testing requirement does not apply to the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico which are within the U.S. containment area.   

In its communication to the United States, CHTA added its concerns to those of the World Travel and Tourism Council, the U.S. Travel Association, and the International Air Transport Association, about the possible imposition of a mandatory quarantine period for travelers to the United States. The organization indicated should this be put in place it would be devastating to the region’s economic health and also have further ramifications on the U.S. economy. 

The organization cited the inextricable link between the economies of the Caribbean and the United States, and Florida, in particular, which provides many of the goods and services supportive of travel to the Caribbean: “The imposition of a mandatory quarantine period would bring business and leisure travel between the United States and the Caribbean to a near standstill, with devastating ensuing results to the region’s already vulnerable economies, further eroding tax revenue, employment levels and forcing additional business closures.”

CHTA urged Caribbean residents and businesses to bolster their already strong health safety protocols, stating that “this is no time to let our guard down”, and echoing calls for all residents to wear face coverings, practice physical distancing, wash their hands frequently, and adhere to sound hygienic practices advanced by the Caribbean Public Health Agency and local health authorities. 

“The tourism industry has incorporated major changes in its operational practices, training, and monitoring and reporting procedures to help ensure the health safety of its guests and employees. These efforts need to continue and in fact be stepped up. By doing so, we can ensure the necessary balance between health safety and slowly reopening tourism.

“By working in collaboration since February 2020 with the Caribbean Public Health Agency and our public sector counterpart, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, and other stakeholders at the regional and local levels, we have put in place the protocols, training and operational changes necessary to protect the health of our visitors and the more than two million citizens and residents who are employed in the region through tourism.  “The coming months will be critical in determining our ability to manage our economies out of the pandemic and mitigating its impact. Strong health safety protocols and the restoration of travel and tourism, the region’s bread and butter sector, can and must coexist,” CHTA stated.

Release: CHTA

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RTCIPF Observes World Down Syndrome Day

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On March 21st, 2024, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force joined the international, regional and local communities in observing World Down Syndrome Day. 

Officers showed their support by wearing brightly coloured and mismatched socks to raise awareness. 

The head of the Safeguarding and Public Protection Unit, Assistant Superintendent of Police Grantley Williams, Training Manager Mrs Odessa Forbes and Media Relations Officer Denyse Renne visited the SNAP Centre and interacted with the students.

In a message to the TCI community, the RTCIPF noted that stereotypes perpetuate stigma and hinder inclusion, preventing individuals from reaching their full potential. 

Instead, the RTCIPF calls for individuals to foster an environment of acceptance and support where everyone is valued for who they are. 

By breaking down barriers and challenging misconceptions, we can create a more inclusive society where individuals with Down Syndrome are empowered to live fulfilling lives and contribute meaningfully to their communities and, by extension, the TCI. 

As law enforcement officers, we must protect and serve all members of society, regardless of their abilities. 

Let’s work together to ensure that individuals with Down Syndrome are treated with dignity and respect and that their rights are upheld.

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CARICOM speaks out on Climate Change, looking to May meeting to amplify call for Climate Funding

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March 3, 2024

 

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) remains on the frontlines of global climate crisis, an issue the Region has been aggressively advocating on for the past thirty years. Despite the many commitments and promises of international partners, the window of opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is rapidly closing.

Heads of Government are concerned that while COP 28 was widely regarded as a historic event, with the completion of the first global stocktake (GST), on progress in achievement of the Paris Agreement goals, the outcomes of GST show that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise and the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) of Parties will not keep global temperatures below the 1.5 degree goal enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

Heads of Government also expressed concern to be heading to COP 29 where a New Finance Goal will be articulated to replace the 100bn goal, which has not yet been met, even as developing countries require trillions to deal with the escalating impacts of climate change. Developed country parties have not provided enough finance at scale, technology and capacity building support required to help developing countries tackle their pressing needs to build their resilience, especially in adapting to the adverse and increasingly catastrophic impacts of climate change. The clear absence of definitive timelines for action and quantitative commitments for scaling up of investments, and particularly adaptation finance emerging out of COP 28, cause great concern to our Region.

The Conference noted that Small Island Developing States (SIDS), recognized as the most vulnerable group of countries and a special case for sustainable development, have been facing strong push back against the recognition of their special circumstances especially in the context of climate finance. There is limited international support for special allocations for SIDS within financing arrangements and available climate finance from international and private sources is limited, expensive and too onerous to access.

In light of the preceding, Heads of Government called for CARICOM to take a strategic, unified and coordinated approach to ensure that the Region remains influential in the climate and development arena through engagements with key partners and advocacy groups.

They called for renewed focus by the Region to advocate for inclusion of forests, nature-based solutions and blue carbon into market mechanisms with the aim of articulating clear regional positions and strategies.

Heads of Government reiterated the call for improved readiness programmes, simplified approval procedures, a change to the criteria for determining access to low-cost finance, and for the adoption of programmatic approaches to address the bottlenecks in accessing finance.

The Region reiterates its support for the Bridgetown Initiative’s call to expand capital adequacy of international financial institutions.

Heads recognized that the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States, scheduled to be held in Antigua and Barbuda, 27 – 30 May 2024, will be an inflection point for many of these discussions to be articulated. As such, the Region remains committed to participating in the Conference at the highest level.

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South Caicos Development Plans shared with Washington-Misick led Administration

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On Monday, 12 February 2024, the Premier led a delegation to tour the island of South Caicos to view the ongoing public and private sector projects, involving the remodelling and rebranding of the airport terminals, historical districts, and the East Bay Hotel.

The tour of the various developments reinforced the Government’s commitment to collaborating with stakeholders to boost the island’s activity and economy.

Photos courtesy of the TCI Office of the Premier

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