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TCI Tourist Board holds successful hybrid version of TACC



#TurksandCaicos, May 12, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Tourist Board hosted its 17th annual Turks and Caicos Conference (TACC) from May 5 to 6, 2021. The event which is the signature tourism conference for the destination was presented with a hybrid of virtual and in-person events for the first time.

This year’s conference had 117 registrants which included wholesalers, airline representatives, hoteliers and local government officials. The Turks and Caicos Conference is typically a three-day event which sees major industry representatives assemble in the islands to receive updates on the destination, network and conduct meetings. In order to comply with current public health protocols, this year’s conference format was revised to a two-day event inclusive of an Opening Ceremony at Amanyara on May 5th and the main conference session at Beaches Resort on May 6th. Additionally, interactive virtual events were hosted courtesy of Grace Bay Resorts and The Hartling Group.

During the Opening Ceremony at Amanyara, the attendees were addressed by the Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands Hon. Charles Washington Misick, Minister of Tourism Hon. Josephine Connolly, Chairman of the Board of Directors Beverly Howell, Director of Tourism Pamela Ewing and President of the TCHTA Trevor Musgrove.

The main conference session at Beaches Resort saw several dignitaries in attendance including Her Excellency Deputy Governor Anya Williams, Deputy Premier Hon. Erwin Jay Saunders, Minister of Tourism Hon. Connolly, Junior Minister of Tourism Hon. Stubbs and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Mrs. Cherylann Jones. 

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Rediscover Turks & Caicos: Resilience, Innovation and Sustainability’. The guest speakers included Senior VP of Investor Services at Invest Turks & Caicos Angela Musgrove, National Trust Executive Director Winema Saunders-Penn, TCHTA President Trevor Musgrove, and an industry presentation by Director of Tourism Pamela Ewing. 

The keynote speech was delivered by Turks and Caicos Islands Deputy Governor Her Excellency Anya Williams who provided an overview on the growth of tourism over the years, the impact of the recent pandemic, and the way forward toward a full recovery of the economy and tourism industry. 

In the address, which focused on the resilience of the destination and highlighted the strategy to re-opening the tourism industry, she stated, “As we were the only overseas territory to do so at the time, there were lots of fears, but recognizing that tourism is the major source of revenue to our economy, we had to balance health and safety with the need to ensure that persons were able to maintain some form of livelihood and that businesses were able to earn some source of direct income.

The Turks and Caicos currently offers one of the safest travel experiences to its guests. Our COVID-19 position here in the islands has significantly improved where at the moment we only have 33 active cases and a localized positivity rate of just over 3%, which we hope to further improve. The positivity rate amongst guests tested prior to their return to their home destination sits at below 1% which means that the large majority of the guests that come to our islands are able to enjoy their visits here without the significant fear of contracting the virus on island.

The pandemic is not over, but we are certainly working towards our exit strategy and 2021 has brought with it, new hopes, a refined focus and renewed strategy.”

This year’s wholesaler segment provided hoteliers with industry updates featuring presentations from Apple Leisure Group, American Airlines and Classic Vacations which are among the top producing wholesalers for the destination.

The Turks and Caicos Tourist Board is committed to its mandate to promote the ‘Beautiful by Nature’ islands as well as continue to build and strengthen strategic industry partnerships through events such as TACC.

Tourist Board representatives anticipate that TACC will return to the shores of the Turks and Caicos Islands with its traditional format in 2022.


Education Minister announces Platinum Partnerships for internet and tablet program amidst COVID surge



By Shaniek Smith

Staff Writer


#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – Schools did not resume in person learning in the Turks and Caicos on January 4, instead it was back to virtual classes for 7,400 children in the British overseas territory due to an omicron-driven surge in Covid-19 infections.

It was announced on the New Year’s Day holiday for TCI, January 3 in a press conference hosted by Rachel Taylor, the Minister of Education, and attended by Jamell Robinson, Minister of Health and supported by Premier Washington Misick, who was also at the live event.

In a promised update, parents got the not-so-good-news, virtual classes would resume at least until the end of January due to the surge and staff shortages being experienced.  Turks and Caicos, up to Thursday January 14 had over 800 active cases, five new deaths and a 600 per cent increase in hospitalisations.  The Minister said the decision was in the interest of safety.

The Minister also promised to get devices and internet to students in order for them to participate in learning during this virtual-only season.  The press conference on January 13, welcomed partners Flow, Digicel and the Pine Cay Project.

In her address, chair of the Pine Cay Project, Marie Landel, said that an urgent call from Dr. Carlton Mills, a member of their board of trustees revealed that about 750 students would be without internet connection and devices.

The Pine Cay Project responded to that information and has agreed to pay for internet for 30 days students, with its partner in the initiative, DigicelTCI.  It is an $18,000 investment in education continuity for hundreds of children.

“We had strong discussions on what we should do with the money that we collect every year, so yesterday we agreed to the funding in emergency situation of 300 internet connections and devices that are going to help the students in need, and we’re very proud to be able to act quickly,” Landel expressed.

Additionally, the Marketing Manager at Digicel TCI, Mr Drexler Smith, said Digicel has partnered with the Ministry of Education to provide about 1,000 tablets for public schools. Smith added that 75 MiFi devices valued at 7,000 dollars were provided; they come with free data services for up to three months for students in need.

Digicel has also created a special education plan for e-learning with specific zero-rated sites and applications. The company partnered with Pine Cay and other private entities in this regard. Various schools and educational facilities in South Caicos, Five Cays, and Providenciales have benefitted from laptops, data plans, MiFi’s, and e-learning kits.

Marketing Executive Flow TCI, Darron Hilaire, also shared the contributions Flow made to the education sector since the pandemic.

“Within the last three years, Flow TCI, through our charitable foundation, would have donated $130,000 worth of ICT equipment to 2 schools respectively in Grand Turk and in Providenciales for the outfitting of the new computer labs to help facilitate the ministry’s vision to foster an efficient e-learning environment for students,” he said.

Mr. Hilaire added that within the first year of the pandemic, Flow responded to requests from the Ministry to increase the bandwidth to public schools in the TCI. Hilaire said Flow home internet speed doubles automatically at no cost to its customers in early July.

He said that within the last 60 days, Flow TCI announced a recent donation of $25,000 dollars to two schools in North Caicos and one in Providenciales. The donation was in aid of increasing connectivity and infrastructural upgrades.

“As we come to the end of this phase of the project, our objective is to look at doing the same for other schools in the second phase of the projects to further arm our schools with the access to technology to provide the best quality education to students,” Hilaire added.

Amanyara Resort, not present at the press event, was said to be working on additional laptops for hundreds of children despite having already donated to several schools in Providenciales.

Minister Rachel Taylor and her team, including Eugene Grant, ICT Education Officer at the Ministry of Education and Mark Garland, Deputy Director of Education thanked the donors; they were labelled Platinum Partners by the Minister.


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Over 5000 COVID cases on Cruises, CDC investigations launched



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#January 15, 2022 – Cruises have continued across the Americas despite the US Centers for Disease Control dire warning that even vaccinated individuals should be wary of them. Now the CDC informs that Coronavirus cases have been reported on every cruise ship sailing with passengers in U.S. waters.

According to the CDC, all 92 ships with passengers have met the threshold for investigation by the public health agency. In every case, the CDC has either started an investigation or has investigated.

Surges in Covid-19 on land have led to spikes on the high seas, revealed that update on Tuesday. Cases have rocketed from 162 in early December to 5,013 up to December 29th.

The CDC warned travellers including those who are vaccinated to avoid cruising in December, following the announcement videos surfaced of jam-packed cruise ships with unmasked passengers ringing in the New Year.

Meanwhile, Grand Turk is still welcoming cruise ships.  Eleven cruise ships are scheduled to dock at the Grand Turk Cruise Center throughout January, according to the port schedule.

Jamell Robinson, TCI Minister of Health has confirmed that ships have been allowed to dock in Grand Turk with positive COVID cases on board.

He said. “Now in each ship there are stations or places for isolation on board…Just because a vessel has people with Covid-19 on it doesn’t necessarily mean we wouldn’t allow them to disembark.”

The minister explained the number of positive cases recorded on cruise ships that had arrived in Grand Turk was .001 per cent of all guests and they were not allowed to disembark.

So far, Turks and Caicos has turned away at least one cruise liner due to fears of COVID exposure in the capital, which has gone from a handful of active cases to now 111, as of January 14.

The US Centers for Disease Control reported on Tuesday that COVID-19 cases on cruise ships have increased to 30 times what they were in mid-December.



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New York, US Epicenter for Omicron “turning the corner”



By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer


#USA, January 15, 2022 – Today, New York is seeing a downward trend in Covid-19 cases, as officials revealed, “we are turning the corner” on Friday in updating on the state of affairs in the city, labelled the epicenter of omicron for the United States.

Before, data from the New York State Department of Health showed that the number of new coronavirus infections per 100,000 vaccinated residents in the State, rose from 29.8 in the first week of December to 222.3 last week.  Also, the rate of new cases in unvaccinated adults rose from 239.6 to 1,583.1 per 100,000.

New York is a key source market for the Turks and Caicos and much of the Caribbean, which is heavily reliant upon winter travellers.  The data showed, too, that vaccine effectiveness against severe infection remained high.

Only 4.59 fully vaccinated adults out of 100,000 were hospitalised with COVID-19 in the week of December 27.  However, that number increased, and the hospitalisation rate for the unvaccinated is nearly 13 times higher.

New York’s rolling positivity rate fell below 20% in recent days, but media reports indicate the death toll in the State hit a startling high of 195 for the first time since the mass vaccination rollout.




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