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Just how bad was 2020’s Tourism decline? TCI Tourist Board statistics reveal

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#TurksandCaicos, May 3, 2021 – Turks and Caicos Tourism Board data shows a drastic drop in overall visitors to the Islands from 2019’s record-breaking 1,598,557 to 370,406 in 2020, translating to a 77 per cent drop. 

Stopover arrivals slumped by 66 per cent, cruise passenger arrival down by 81 per cent and the number of cruise vessels at port dropped by 81 per cent compared to 2019.

The phenomenal drop in the overall performance of the TCI tourism industry could be attributed to the impact of the global Coronavirus pandemic that almost brought down the entire tourism industry to a standstill. 

According to the UNWTO Impact Assessment of the Covid-19 Outbreak on the International Tourism report, it was projected there would be an overall decline of 70-75 per cent in tourism for the whole of 2020. 

Based on a report prepared by the TCI Tourist Board Statistical Officer Ms. Sharissa Lightbourne, stopover arrivals from the major markets such as the US, Canada, and Europe recorded a decline of 65, 62, and 79 per cent, respectively. 

Even though the stopover arrivals to the Turks and Caicos Islands increased by 13 per cent in the first two months of 2020 compared to the previous year, the promising trend was soon compromised as the Islands recorded a 53 per cent drop in stopovers in March 2020 due to the detrimental impact of the novel Coronavirus in major TCI tourism markets and border closure from March 24 to July 22, 2020.

The remarkable 1,598,557 visitor arrivals in 2019 represented a nine per cent increase from the previous year’s figures. Broken down into various categories, the arrivals included 86,739 Stopover and 1,111,818 cruise visits.

The Grand Turk Cruise Center welcomed a 9 percent increase in cruise passengers and an 11 per cent increase in cruise year-over-year. 

According to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the remarkable growth made by the tourism industry in the region in 2019 could be attributed to strong demand from the main markets.

Increased airlift capacity, more diverse accommodation facilities, and sustainable recovery following hurricane season 2017 were some of the additional factors that fueled a blast in tourism the region’s tourism industry. 

With the borders closed for some months, hotels shut, cruise vessels stopped sailing, air travels restricted, and the government imposed rafts of restrictions to protect the locals and mitigate the spread of the pandemic, the ever-promising TCI’s blue economy came crumbling within months, as in other Caribbean countries. 

However, with the intensified global vaccination drive and promising progress in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s hope at the end of the tunnel for the TCI tourism sector as the virus containment efforts prove effective. 

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Demolition coming as South Base to Undergo Testing for Asbestos

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Turks and Caicos, July 18th, 2024 – The Turks and Caicos Islands Government would like to advise the public of Grand Turk, that a consulting firm has been contracted to carry out testing of the buildings on the South Base Compound for the presence of asbestos.  A week of testing began Wednesday, July 10. This is to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations and to protect workers, residents, and the public from possible asbestos exposure risks once comprehensive works on the base commence.

This is the initial consultation necessary to determine the methodology for the demolition and disposal of derelict buildings in the assessed area.  It is believed that low-risk micro-fibres are present in some of the buildings, owing to the period of construction and the types of materials used during that era.  Testing will confirm whether asbestos is present and if so, at what levels.

As a precautionary measure, signs have been erected to advise the public to avoid entering any of the dilapidated structures; as building materials containing asbestos, if disturbed, can release tiny asbestos fibres into the air.  Currently only the consultants are authorised to traverse the buildings until further notice.

Residents of Grand Turk have for years demanded that Governments address the unsightly area. The requests were mainly in relation to the aesthetics of the buildings. However, the interventions were deferred at various times for varying reasons.

The South Base is a huge compound, by island standards, with an area containing over twenty-one (21) building sites. It was formerly used as a United States Government base, and then as administrative offices by the Turks and Caicos Islands Government. Some of the structures were renovated and are in acceptable condition, whilst others were destroyed over the years by hurricanes and normal wear and tear. 

The South Base, which has mostly been left as a decrepit and ghostly development of obsolete structures is finally being remedied. The area, which is a main thoroughfare for tourism and commerce when cleaned up, will provide space for numerous governmental and civilian uses.

Residents of Grand Turk sharing the optimism of a prospective demolition should adhere to this notification and any precautionary warnings erected for their health, safety, and well-being.

Subsequent phases of the works will be published via a public tendering.

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RBC donates $175,000 to Hurricane Beryl relief efforts

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PORT OF SPAIN — In the wake of Hurricane Beryl, RBC Royal Bank (RY on TSX and NYSE) (“RBC”) and RBC Foundation USA announced a donation of C$175,000 to the Canadian Red Cross and the American Red Cross in support of Caribbean and U.S. relief efforts.

The devastating hurricane impacted several Caribbean and U.S. communities where RBC operates, including Barbados, the Cayman Islands, and Tobago.

RBC’s contribution will support emergency relief efforts, including shelters, hygiene kits, and social assistance to those in the affected communities.

“The intensity of Hurricane Beryl this early in the season is concerning and our thoughts are with the individuals affected in the Caribbean communities as well as in the U.S.,” said Chris Duggan, Head of RBC Caribbean Banking.

“At RBC, we believe it is our responsibility to support our communities in times of need. Our donation to the Red Cross, will provide immediate assistance to those impacted, ensuring they receive the necessary resources to recover and rebuild.”

Commenting on the Caribbean generosity as well as that of our larger RBC community, Duggan added: “The response of the RBC Caribbean Banking employees, as well as that of our larger RBC community has been generous and unhesitating. In response to the disaster, our colleagues are coming together in many unique and incredible ways and donating personally to help those affected.”

Those that would like to support the relief efforts can donate to the Canadian Red Cross at www.redcross.ca or the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org.

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FortisTCI makes a case for Rate Increase in Media Meeting

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Ruth Gardiner Forbes, President and Chief Executive Officer of FortisTCI

Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

Turks and Caicos, July 17, 2024 – President and Chief Executive Officer of FortisTCI, Ruth Gardiner Forbes says it is very necessary for the company to be granted the 6% increase that it has requested, because it has absorbed many costs in previous years.

Devon Cox FortisTCI

The company is the main electricity provided in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), and the CEO shared that the rate adjustment will aid FortisTCI in meeting the demands of an expanding economy, and growing costs to operate.

If granted, the proposed 6% increase in electricity rate, would mean that an additional $2 to $15 per month for the majority of residential customers, explained Forbes.

While addressing a recent media event, the CEO stressed that “this rate increase is necessary, and we have had to make a lot of investments to keep up with the growth,” she said.

Adding that several factors contribute to the need for increased rates, including cybersecurity risks, wildfire risks, supply chain challenges, and evolving regulatory requirements, she said “this is one of the most difficult things that we have to do, is go to our customers and ask for an increase every year.”

She said the existing circumstances have forced the company to seek the proposed adjustment, and that the rate increase is necessary, as “we have to make the application because amidst all this growth, we have had to make a lot of investments to keep up with the growth,” she told the forum.

The CEO reasoned that given the importance of retaining reliable service, it is not plausible for the TCI to have a headline that says “we are experiencing blackouts,” and the company does not receive a guaranteed 17.5% return, although the rate is allowable by contract, the average return on rate base for the past five years was 3.9%, with the highest being 5.1%.

FortisTCI Execs

The company’s Director of Energy Production, Alvejes Desir, gave details of the impact of the depth of the water at the port on fuel supply costs, adding that limited depth restricts the size of ships that can deliver fuel, leading to increased transportation costs.

He said FortisTCI has made significant investments in renewable energy sources, aligning with the Resilient National Energy Transition Strategy (R-NETS) approved by the Turks and Caicos Islands Government.

The company recently installed a new dual-fuel generating unit capable of using natural gas, a lower-carbon energy source, and is awaiting the Governor’s appointment of an independent inquirer to review the reasonableness of its proposal for a rate hike.

It has also requested the appointment of an independent inquirer to review the reasonableness of its application, a process that was also followed in a previous rate dispute in 2017.

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