#TurksandCaicos, June 10, 2021 – Turks and Caicos Islands, June 9, 2021 – The breathtaking sights of the underwater ecosystems at the Smith’s Reef Snorkel Trail are all set to be explored by local communities, students, and international guests thanks to rehabilitative work funded by the Sandals Foundation to ensure the protection of the enchanting marine life, the safety of snorkelers and the sustained livelihood of those who earn a living from using the nearby boating channel.
On Tuesday June 8, in commemoration of World Oceans Day, the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources proudly reopened the more than 20 year old near shore trail after implementing upgrades valued at just under US $30,000 from the Sandals Foundation.
Restoration works included the cleaning and continued maintenance of existing snorkel trail markers, installation of beach signage and marker buoys around the snorkel site, introduction of swim zone lines outside the snorkel area to prevent snorkelers from accidentally entering the boating channel, and the provision of signs and other collateral noting guideline for reef etiquette.
Heidi Clarke, Executive Director at the Sandals Foundation was pleased to see the reopening of the iconic site, bringing with it opportunities for sustained education and economic exploration.
“The new underwater trail signs will add to the rich educational experience of students and local community members who’ll be able to develop a deeper appreciation for and understanding of how they too can help protect the beautiful natural resources,” said Clarke.
The site’s reopening is even more significant, Clarke continued, as the theme for this year’s World Oceans Day, “Connects the importance of the Ocean to what we know all too well as Caribbean nationals – our lives and livelihoods. The marine space is part of our identity as a region and we are very happy to have this beautiful snorkel site reopened with restored amenities to not only protect the natural ecosystems that are present but also the life and livelihoods of persons who share in its resources.”
Alizee Zimmermann, Executive Director at the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund expressed gratitude to the Sandal’s Foundation for the Smith’s Reef restoration works funded.
“Smith’s Reef is an iconic off-shore snorkel site enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. The restoration efforts have created a safe space for snorkelers, alerting them to where the boat channel begins through the addition of a swim zone line. Additionally, the snorkel ring itself serves to keep people off of the shallow, fragile areas of the reef, protecting our vulnerable corals all the while taking the snorkeller on an informational tour through the placement of underwater trail markers. The beach signs and waterproof but recyclable maps will make this a fun, educational and memorable experience for all.”
Turks & Caicos is home to the third-largest barrier reef in the world with more than a million travelers venturing to the island each year to explore the wonders of the marine space.
Speaking at the Trail’s brief reopening ceremony executed under strict safety protocols, General Manager at Beaches Turks and Caicos, James McAnally beamed that, “As the island’s tourism industry continues its upward trajectory, the newly reopened snorkel site will be a welcome addition to marine adventure seekers.”
McAnally added, “Many guest travel here to enjoy the vibrant aquatic life and that’s why the Sandals Foundation, Turks and Caicos Reef Fund and Beaches Turks and Caicos believe this restoration project will enhance the sea life activity and options for both residents and tourists.”
Coral reefs are threatened throughout the Caribbean and the tropical Atlantic. Near shore reefs are particularly valuable assets as they allow visitors a one of a kind opportunity to easily access and learn about the wondrous ecosystem. Renovations of the Smith’s Reef Snorkel Trail began in late 2019 but had numerous setbacks due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The project continues the longstanding partnership between the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund and the Sandals Foundation who have over the years implemented a number of activities towards the sustained conservation of the island’s marine spaces.
Barbados to Host 41st Caribbean Travel Marketplace this Spring
By Sherrica Thompson
#Barbados, February 2, 2023 – Barbados has been selected to host the 41st edition of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace. The event will be held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Bridgetown from May 9 -11, and it is expected to build on the success of the 40th staging held in Puerto Rico last fall.
CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig, who made the announcement recently, said it’s the first time in the organization’s history that the association’s largest annual event, which brings together buyers and sellers of the region’s tourism products and services, will be staged in Barbados.
“CHTA has a very strong relationship with both public and private sector stakeholders in Barbados, and as we position the region’s top earner for robust growth this year, we are delighted to lock arms with our Bajan partners to drive business to the Caribbean,” she stated.
Noting that: “This year’s Marketplace will also provide unique access to the Eastern Caribbean for buyers and tour operators as the region places a strong focus on the revival of multi-destination travel.”
Minister of Tourism and International Transport of Barbados Ian Gooding-Edghill, said the Barbados tourism industry was undergoing a major renaissance in the post-COVID environment, and the timing could not be better to welcome Caribbean Travel Marketplace to local soil.
“We are honoured to host such a preeminent gathering of tourism stakeholders from around the world,” Minister Gooding-Edghill said, noting that the meeting aligns with Barbados’ value offerings, which appeal, among others, to the very important MICE [Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions] market.
The launch of the first Caribbean Travel Forum & Awards, a highlight of the Puerto Rico meeting, will return for a second edition and will be held in Barbados on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, ahead of the official opening ceremony of Caribbean Travel Marketplace.
The Forum will also focus on the business of tourism, and business appointments will be conducted on Wednesday, May 10 and Thursday, May 11.
Over 150 delegates, including Ministers of Tourism and key private sector leaders, engaged in the Caribbean Travel Forum last year.
National Food Policy to be created in the Bahamas
By Shanieka Smith
#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – A new initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs in the Bahamas will see the creation of a National Food Policy geared towards ensuring food security on the island.
“This agricultural policy would encompass a holistic approach and incorporate regulations, legislation, and other aspects to assist the farmers who have not really gotten the attention they deserve for a long time,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, Hon. Clay Sweeting.
Other initiatives within the agriculture sector will also be implemented, such as the digitalization of applications and forms, which will make farming more efficient.
Clay said, “we have already digitalized for the most part the Department of Marine Resources and soon we will unveil new services such as dog licences, import permits, and other services needed for a successful agricultural sector.”
The construction of the Cultivation Centres (TCC) in Eleuthera and New Providence with produce exchange, food processing kitchens and farm stores will continue.
Sweeting said he hopes these initiatives will help to decrease the country’s yearly $1 billion food import bill.
The Incredible Story of David Avido of Kenya, 24 Year old designing for the Grass Roots to the Stars
By Dana Malcolm
#Africa, February 2, 2023 – One Kenyan designer began a sewing business out of the slums where he was born; now he dresses some of the Caribbean and Africa’s most famous faces.
Born the oldest son of a single mother and from Kibera Nairobi, David Avido Ochieng did not have an easy start. In Kibera, the largest urban slum in East Africa opportunities for international success are hard to come by and yet Avido can now say he has dressed the likes of former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Beyoncé, Chronixx, Romain Virgo, Tarrus Riley, Chris Martin, Ty Dolla Sign, Koffee and many more.
As explained on his website, David dropped out of school to work and support his family quite young. In just first form he was working on a construction site but he knew he wanted more from life. After quitting his job he danced and saved what he could and tried his best to complete his education.
He told Vogue magazine: “When I started dancing I used to save money in order to go back to high school, with the little that I could get from dancing and my mom’s money from doing work as a house help, we were able to raise 15,000 shillings and with that, I joined an adult school and skipped forms two, three and four.”
David picked up a sewing machine to make costumes and realized his talent. By 2015, his brand LookslikeAvido was born. He completed a fashion & design diploma at Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts and began to sew incredible pieces right at home in Kibera. Even as his brand is globally recognized, Kibera is where his workshop remains; David says, his homeland is his great inspiration.
“There is no barrier if you believe in your talent and take the next step. I want to encourage and create beauty, where people don’t expect.”
Talented and thoughtful Avido is well aware of the stereotypes surrounding him, his home and the black community globally.
“We know about injustice and violence, prejudice, racial and social discrimination – we experience it within Kenya and we experience it globally, as people look at us as the poor, the uneducated, the needy,” he said.
Featured in Vogue, CNN and other international publications, Avido remains connected to his origins in a tangible way and as his success grows his roots just go deeper. Twenty per cent of all sales of his jackets and other clothing items go directly back to Kibera; his website explains that all the tailoring, product photoshoots and collaborations ‘is all done here in Kibra.’
There is no fabric waste from his garments, instead, scraps are repurposed into masks and shopping bags for residents, all his tailors are local residents, a portion of profits are used to pay school fees and Avido and his team put in extra time to make school uniforms as well.
On his website, is a photo of him sitting around a sewing machine, his worktable resting on hard-packed earth with presumably a group of family and friends surrounding him, a source of pride. The introspective photograph could have been taken in Nairobi, Trinidad or Barbados, so nostalgic is the picture, the bench and the story of community success that it represents.
In a video posted to his YouTube, David sits at his new work desk, and beside him hangs a rack of clothes in the cramped space that serves as his kitchen as well.
“I’m the firstborn of Kibera,” He explains, “Every kid in Kibera is looking up to me— my main dream is to open up a place where I can inspire people to work.”
David has a dozen employees and is listed in Beyonce’s directory of black businesses; with an uncommon wisdom, the designer knows that his successes so far are not parking spaces but rather stepping stones as he faces his future announcing that the journey, for him, continues.
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