#TurksandCaicos, June 2, 2021 – A canopy for shelter, a new clearance procedure and additional staff are among the plans to help manage arriving passengers at the Providenciales International Airport; the long standing issue of congestion at the airport is back, as life returns to normal and that pent up demand for Turks and Caicos vacations is manifest.
H.E. Anya Williams, Turks and Caicos Islands Deputy Governor, in response to our queries confirmed there were a crush of issues on Saturday which led to passengers having to queue on the tarmac for long periods of time, not least of which is that six immigration officers scheduled to work did not show up.
“Some have provided medical certificates to support their absence while others are still being investigated. To minimize the impact of their absence, off duty officers on the island of Providenciales were called in, in addition to officers having been brought over from Grand Turk to assist,” said HE Williams, who heads the Public Sector of TCI Government.
While there is no official information on why those officers were out, a back-up plan is being hatched.
“I can confirm as well that 6 Immigration Officers scheduled to work on Saturday did not report for duty. Some have provided medical certificates to support their absence while others are still being investigated.
To minimize the impact of their absence, off duty officers on the island of Providenciales was called in, in addition to officers having been brought over from Grand Turk to assist.”
Astounding, she said is the overwhelming arrivals for Saturday. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported 7.1 million travelled over the week, with 1.6 million passengers through US airports on Saturday alone.
“I can confirm that on Saturday May 29, 2021 we experienced significant congestion issues at the arrivals section of the Providenciales Airport which resulted in persons having to queue on the tarmac for an unfortunate period.
This was due to a number of factors including heavy flight loads as well as scheduling and other issues, including staff absences during the early part of the day.
A total of 2,397 passengers arrived at the Providenciales Airport on Saturday May 29; quite a significant increase compared to previous months.
7 international flights arrived between 12 to 1pm, some within 10 mins of each other, preventing officers from being able to clear one flight before the next or a subsequent thereafter landed, resulting in long queues.”
Mr. Floyd Ingham, Acting CEO of the TCI Airports Authority confirmed on Saturday that flights had reported they would be 75-80 per cent full.
“The Turks and Caicos is currently experiencing a significant increase in our tourism arrivals,” said Mrs. Williams, who continued in her statement with: “We are working our best to develop a strategy for the construction of a new terminal as we recognize that our current demand has outgrown the current space at the airport, which has proven to be even more challenging at a time when we are trying to enforce social distancing, health screening and other requirements.”
In the interim; a canopy is coming and cross training of Immigration officers to support the TCI Travel Authorization will happen, she said.
Government Considers Vaccine Requirement for New Admissions to Infirmaries
#Jamaica, December 7, 2021 – Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the Government is considering a vaccine requirement for new entrants to the island’s infirmaries, once admissions resume.
“What we are looking to do is that once we start to readmit persons to the infirmaries, one of the conditions that will be laid out is that new cases coming into the infirmaries must be fully vaccinated before they are admitted,” he said in an interview with JIS News.
“We have to do that to safeguard the population in our infirmaries,” he pointed out.
He said that the Ministry is also looking at allowing visits to facilities by fully vaccinated family members during the Christmas season.
“Last year, we partnered with Digicel and we used technology as a means of allowing loved ones to communicate with their relatives inside of the infirmaries. This year, we are looking to see if we can do it on a limited, face-to-face basis, once we have agreed… where people, who would want to visit their relatives in the infirmaries… must be fully vaccinated,” he said.
“I also want to stress that they must come with a negative COVID test that is [taken within] 72 hours, and we will limit visits based on appointments,” he pointed out.
“So, you would make your appointments, you would come at the time given and we will be creating areas such as the therapeutic park [being built at the Trelawny Infirmary], as a means of allowing loved ones [to visit] during the festive season once we have worked out the protocols. That is the approach we will be taking,” the Minister outlined.
Mr. McKenzie said the Government will always be sympathetic to the plight of the poor, noting that those with loved ones inside the infirmaries can be assured that they are being cared for by a committed and dedicated team of professionals.
He said that while 70 per cent of the island’s infirmary staff has already been vaccinated, every effort is being made to get the remaining 30 per cent on board, noting that taking the vaccine has proven to be the most effective way to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control.
Contact: Garwin Davis
Minister Bartlett Elected Chair of Inter-American Committee on Tourism
#UnitedStatesofAmerica, December 7, 2021 – Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has been elected by acclamation as the new Chairman of the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Committee on Tourism (CITUR).
Minister Bartlett came out ahead of the candidates from Paraguay and Ecuador for the chairmanship at a meeting on Tuesday (November 30). Both countries will now serve as Vice Chair of the CITUR.
“I wish you… much success in the work that you will be leading as we begin deliberations to prepare the draft work plan based on the Declaration of Paraguay towards the reconstruction and rebuilding of tourism post coronavirus (COVID-19),” she said.
Minister Bartlett, in his response, called on all member states to work together to complete the plans and policy programmes that they had started. This, he said, “would require a greater sense of innovation, as we cannot continue with things as they are”.
“We must now seek to find new ways to deal with new disruptions that seem destined to follow this pandemic,” he added.
Minister Bartlett thanked member states for the confidence placed in him by way of his election to the chair of the committee. He pledged to be a strong, fruitful, and vibrant chairman and called for the support of each member state.
“We have so much to do, and I know the Americas are depending on us to chart the way to recovery and to thrive after recovery,” he said.
Contact: Derrick Scott
Facts laid out in Beach Vending Bill Debate by Tourism Minister Connolly
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, December 7, 2021 – Tourism Minister Josephine Connolly says the policy that birthed the controversial Beach and Coastal Vending bill was conceived under the PDM administration.
Connolly was speaking in the House of Assembly on November 30 when she made the claims. She said the policy had been around since 2020 and had been in circulation among tourism stakeholders and publicly via the DECR up to June this year.
“The bill was circulated in 2020 up to three times. In June of this year the policy was again circulated. And the DECR held meetings to discuss the policy and some of the changes.”
Connolly claimed that the policy which had been drafted by the previous administration and had then been intentionally ignored by them.
“…Mr Speaker, I met on my desk a draft policy on beach vending prepared by the previous government. It had sat there gathering dust, not because it was not needed but because the previous government did not want to deal with it,” the Minister said after laying the Bill for its second reading.
Connolly insisted however that she was up to the task of seeing the bill through.
“They let it slide; leave it for the next guy, but I am the next guy and I am not shy.”
She went on to reference a specific issue affecting vendors. She said currently, vendors only needed a business license to operate on the beach. This resulted in vendors tying up several booths and denying other vendors a chance.
She claimed the bill would fix this as each vendor would only be allowed one license to operate on the beach, thus increasing fairness.
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