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Letter to the Editor

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Sustainability of tourism in TCI, and the zeal to preserve it. 

#TurksandCaicos, March 30, 2021 – In a true sense of the word, sustainable tourism is one that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host.

As a country, we have come a long way and can proudly boast that we are the envy of the Caribbean in terms of desirability but, is it sustainable?

Prior to the pandemic, there were public concerns that tourism in our country was growing faster than our ability to cope. With the sharp decline in this area, it gave us a moment to pause and reflect on how dependent we are on the tourism dollars, and to question whether or not we are truly a good host.

Without a coordinated response, we risk being unable to fully capture the potential of tourism and protect the long-term sustainability of this vibrant but fragile industry.

As we press forward and look beyond the post-pandemic era, we should be asking ourselves, what can we do differently to save our most valuable product which is ecotourism?

It’s crucial that everyone take the depletion of natural resources seriously and do everything within our power to sustain our natural environment. 

Turks and Caicos is now at a crossroad where the Bahamas and Jamaica once were, in terms of growth and development. Where we go from here will determine the long term future of our country.

So how do we continue to thrive and nurture what we have?

If our government is really serious about saving our ecotourism industry, it must start with saving our coral reefs, our pristine beaches and wet lands. These are the areas that must be protected at all cost.

Red flags are being raised in areas such as, damages and depletion of our coral reefs, crumbling infrastructure, but are these areas getting the attention that’s needed? 

It all begins and ends with forging a strong partnership, collaboration and trust between the public and private sectors. 

Department of Environmental and Costal Resources (DECR) and Maritime departments, will need to be given an attenuated role with managing national parks and more autonomy to operate.

Access to the needed resources for enforcement in these particular areas has long been a challenge. Basic needs such as, channel markers, proper reef moorings, a Marine vessel, are all areas of dire need particularly in Grand Turk. 

What is of paramount importance is, bridging that gap and aligning the aforementioned departments with local Water Sports organizations and the Turks and Caicos Reef project. 

I believe the end goal could very well be achieved merely through training and education of tour operators, both land and sea.

With close oversight and support, these private organizations could play a vital role in helping to protect and preserve a sustainable ecotourism in our country.

What we have seen over the years is, the departments might have had the best intentions or strategies to help save our environment, but lacked the resources to execute on anything.

Case in point: On any given day when the cruise ships were in, we had anywhere from 3500 to 4000 passengers embarking on our shores in Grand Turk.

An overwhelming majority of these sunbathers remain right on our pristine beaches. 

There are no available public restrooms facilities, no direct beach access for emergency vehicles and at the end of the day, the beaches are left littered with garbage, with no assigned government workers to assist with clean up. 

Is this what one would call protecting our most valued tourism product? Nevertheless, it’s not too late; with cruising at a standstill, it’s perfect timing to get our house in order before they resume sailing.

With tourism being the primary economic engine of growth for our country, we are in an acute position and cannot continue to ignore these critical areas, or play politics while ignoring the need for a total facelift of the nation’s capital.

There also needs to be a national conversation on saving our reefs with a unified effort. Failure to address these critical improvements would only exacerbate issues and in the long term and put the country in a more vulnerable position.

We can no longer be shortsighted when it comes to the future of our country. With that being said, more focus should be on yield per visitor and return rate rather than just the sheer number of visitors to our Islands. 

Based on the aesthetics as it is right now, especially in GT, I’m afraid to say it’s not very inviting to the naked eyes. 

If there’s one lesson that we can derive from this pandemic is the importance of protecting what we have control over.

Therefore, in order to protect and sustain what we have left to call our own, ecological restoration will have to become front and center of any development or revitalization plan going forward.

Ed Forbes 

Concerned citizen of Grand Turk

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News

FortisTCI Statement – Rising Fuel Prices and Electricity Bills

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#TurksandCaicos, June 1, 2022 – The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to affect the supply and cost of fuel worldwide, and significant increases in fuel prices are expected to continue in the upcoming months. This translates into higher electricity bills.

We empathize with the challenges customers are facing due to higher electricity bills at this time. While the cost of fuel is beyond our control, we want to help ease the burden as much as possible. We remain committed to keeping customers informed about these global trends.

Customer notices were issued back in April, and information was shared via mainstream media channels on these developments. At the time, we also shared that our fuel supplier, Sun Oil Ltd, projected further increases in the cost of fuel in the months ahead, and this has now become a reality for utilities and customers. These higher fuel costs are reflected in the fuel factor rate on customer electricity bills.

Fuel Factor Rate Increases

Due to fuel price increases in the month of May, the fuel factor for Grand Turk and Salt Cay customers increased from $0.1672 to $0.2053, and from $0.1962 to $0.2405 for Providenciales, North and Middle Caicos customers, respectively. These represent an increase of 23%, which are reflected on June electricity bills. For example, if the fuel factor on May’s bill was $100, this would change to $123 on June’s bill, provided that the customer’s consumption remained the same month over month.

The fuel factor rate for customers on South Caicos was $0.2299 in May and an increase in the rate is also expected. The fuel factor rate is calculated monthly as outlined in the Electricity Ordinance. As FortisTCI is a regulated electricity company, the fuel factor rate is sent to the TCI Government’s Energy and Utilities Commissioners Office each month for authentication.

What To Expect In The Months Ahead

Based on the latest information received from our fuel supplier, the cost of fuel will rise significantly over the next several months, which will cause a further increase in the fuel factor and ultimately an increase in electricity bills. Similar to the rising prices at gas stations, grocery stores, and across other sectors, the utility industry is also recording the same upward trend due to global market factors.

In addition, we are now in the summer months and higher temperatures at this time of the year may affect electricity costs. Higher temperatures can mean increased use of air conditioning, which is the biggest consumer of electricity in the home.

Customer Support Measures

The following measures are now in effect:

No penalties on late payments during the months of July and August 2022.

No disconnections for balances less than 60 days overdue from July to August 2022. Payment plans on a case-by-case basis.

To further assist customers, FortisTCI will launch a series of interactive online educational sessions on how to manage energy use.

We encourage customers to keep track of their electricity use by signing up for My Online Account. Visit www.fortistci.com to register. My Online Account allows customers to set budget limits on their electricity usage and receive alerts when their consumption limit is approaching.

We believe that renewable energy is a pathway to lower energy costs and we are working with TCI Government to implement supportive regulations. As your partner in energy, we will continue to expand our renewable energy programs and reduce our dependence on diesel fuel.

 

Ruth Forbes

President and Chief Executive Officer

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Bahamas News

Beautiful Grand Bahama extended for additional 12 weeks

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By: Robyn Adderley

Bahamas Information Services

 

#GrandBahama, The Bahamas, July 2, 2022 – Hundreds of Beautiful Grand Bahama workers cheered when told by Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey on Friday that their 12-week work programme has been extended for 12 additional weeks.

The employees are from all communities of the island.

While addressing the employees at the Grand Lucayan, Minister Moxey said, “Your hard work and dedication has begun delivering the results we, at the Ministry for Grand Bahama, envisioned when we launched this program back in April.

“We wanted to give hope, provide an opportunity for our young people, especially our inner-city residents, to make an honest living, while also helping to revitalize their communities by tackling issues that have negatively affected the environment and diminished the historical and cultural beauty of our beloved island, which affects its attractiveness as a world-class destination.”

The goal of the programme, she said, is to transform lives and communities.

“Many of you here today, are mothers, fathers, siblings, and possibly the main breadwinners in your household, and the time you’ve dedicated to this program has restored your faith in our island’s recovery.”

It was the belief of the Prime Minister, the Hon. Philip Davis, when assigning her to the Ministry, she continued, that Grand Bahama could be one of the most powerful economies in the country.

The programme, the Minister continued, is designed to transform communities, and not just a cleanup campaign.

Minister Moxey then pointed out how the transformations have already begun:  Tripp Circle Project is designed to house displaced families to provide short-term housing relief, including trauma counseling and a job readiness programme to help them get back on their feet; the Peel Street Project is designed to transform a historic site for national security into a Police Museum and Cultural Centre for visitors and residents to enjoy; the Pinder’s Point Historic Lighthouse area will be converted into a community visitor attraction and entrepreneurship centre, as part of the Community Tourism & Cultural Initiative; the Pelican Bay Festival Grounds will be transformed into another tourism & cultural center for East Grand Bahama, to create year-round economic activity for the residents; and work in West Grand Bahama, to transform the community from Eight Mile Rock to West End, clearing bushes and debris, beautifying spaces for both residents and visitors to enjoy.

The government, she said, is committed to “rebuilding, revolutionizing, and restoring Grand Bahama but we cannot do it without your help. The people of Grand Bahama are courageous and resilient; it is finally Grand Bahama’s time, and the Ministry for Grand Bahama wants to assist you with preparing yourselves for future opportunities.”

To assist the employees further, continued Minister Moxey, Pastor Barry Morris was invited to assist those who may have made choices in their past and now have a record.  Representatives were also present from the Labour Department and Immigration to further assist with those areas.

“Like I’ve been saying all along, this is what Beautiful Grand Bahama is all about – it’s a holistic approach to rebuilding our communities and the lives of our people.”

Minister Moxey then announced that the programme has been extended for an additional 12 weeks and the room erupted with cheers.

As a surprise for the Minister, Corey Nixon serenaded her on the saxophone with an Alicia Keys song, “If I Aint Got You.” In response to this, Minister Moxey used the opportunity to inform the employees of the $5,000 grant for the Orange Economy.

The Minister closed the event with, “See you on Monday.”

 

Release: BIS

Photo Captions: 

Header: The Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey on Friday, July 1 announced to hundreds of employees of the Beautiful Grand Bahama initiative that the programme has been extended for an additional 12 weeks.

1st insert: Hundreds of residents gathered in the Ballroom of the Grand Lucayan Resort on Friday, July 1 for the closing ceremony of Beautiful Grand Bahama, a 12-week initiative geared towards cleaning up every community on the island. During the ceremony, Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey, explained what is intended for the areas the employees had been working in.

2nd insert: Saxophonist Corey Nixon serenaded Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey on Friday, July 1 at the Grand Lucayan Ballroom at the end of the Closing Ceremony of the Beautiful Grand Bahama 12-week initiative. Minister Moxey explained that there is a $5,000 grant for the Orange Economy where talented artists and creatives can receive funding.

(BIS Photos/Andrew Miller)

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Caribbean News

US Milestone Celebrated

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#Jamaica, June 30, 2022 – This year marks the United States of America’s (USA) 246th anniversary of Independence, and the milestone was celebrated with a reception on June 28 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.  The event also featured the traditional United States Marine Corps Colour Guard ceremony.

Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, who represented the Government of Jamaica, extended congratulations to the Government and people of the United States (US) on this significant achievement.

“The Government of Jamaica is pleased to join in commemorating this milestone with our American friends and partners. Today we celebrate a nation that continues to give practical meaning to the declaration of Independence and the vision of the founding fathers for the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These tenets have been central to the growth and development of the Union since 1776 and its transformation as a global leader,” he said.

For his part, US Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Nick Perry, said the countries’ partnership has been rewarding, and expressed the United States’ continued commitment to strengthening the cooperation between the nations.

“On behalf of the United States Mission to Jamaica, thank you for joining us as we celebrate the 246th anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America. As we celebrate America’s independence, we also celebrate 60 years of partnership between our two countries. Together we have promoted democracy, human rights, and shared security concerns,” he said.

Jamaica established diplomatic relations with the United States in 1962, following its independence from the United Kingdom.

The partnership focuses on reducing corruption; increasing transparency and good governance; fostering Jamaican participation in regional security efforts; strengthening basic education; and increasing energy resiliency.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US has provided more than US$16.4 million as well as donations of vaccines to assist Jamaica’s containment measures.

Additionally, over the last 12 months, the United States has collaborated with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to issue a record number of H2 visas, bringing critical, temporary labour to the US, while providing jobs for thousands of Jamaicans that resulted in millions of dollars in remittances.

Significantly, the Peace Corps, which is also celebrating 60 years of partnership with Jamaica this year, will resume its operations on the island beginning September, following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

 

Contact: Rochelle Williams

Release: JIS

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