#TurksandCaicos, August 17, 2021 – In 14 days, things will change dramatically for the Turks and Caicos when it comes to who is allowed into the country as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to force sweeping reviews of rules in the travel and tourism industry.
“Approved amendments to existing measures under the Public and Environmental Health (COVID-19 Pandemic) Regulations 2020, with effect from 1 September 2021 until further notice, as follows: All visitors aged 16 and above to be fully vaccinated on arrival in TCI,” a rule evolving from the Turks and Caicos Islands Cabinet meeting of August 11.
Turks and Caicos is setting the bar very high for tourists to enter the country, after guests accounted for nearly 70 per cent of the new cases of Covid-19 and following discovery of the delta strain within the islands.
Now, in addition to mandatory medical coverage, mandatory testing within three days of travel to Turks and Caicos, every tourist 16 years and older must be vaccinated.
The new measure is met with harsh criticism and deep concern, as the industry has in recent months shown tremendous signs of a pre-Covid 19 bounce-back.
The Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association had the chance to weigh in on the government’s response to the spike in tourist positives last week; a poll which tipped the scales in favour of not mandating vaccination for tourists.
“Discussions were held last week Thursday (August 5) with the sector to get their feedback on possible measures for the surge in cases,” said newly appointed minister of Health, Jamell Robinson.
From the sector there was not unanimous support informed Trevor Musgrove, president of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association, who also said the industry despite stands by the government’s “tough” decision.
“My understanding was that they voted against it,” said Ken Patterson, CEO of Seven Stars resort, “We don’t know what percentage of our tourists are unvaccinated, so no one knows what impact this will have on TCI.”
Patterson also believes government would be better strengthened in its response to the spike in tourism and imported cases of Covid-19 and the Delta variant with measures which empowered resort owners to get all frontline staff vaccinated and says, with some tweaking the new standard could be a plus for safe tourism.”
“Why are tourists being asked to provide a negative test and insurance if they are already vaccinated? This could be made into a positive tourism message if these, now unnecessary, requirements are dropped.”
Still, new minister of Health Jamell Robinson said the Cabinet determined this would be the best rule as of September 1.
“We have to balance lives and livelihoods; 68 per cent of the 133 positive cases as of early July were visitors. Community spread was evidence by the contact tracing. With the pervasiveness of the Delta Variant, it could be asked, could we afford not to make the change?”
During the press conference Minister Robinson offered, “Ninety of the 133 persons who tested positive from early July to date were tourists; that is a significant percentage so based on that, we know we have to put measures in place to deal with that large proportion of the COVID positives and one of the ways of doing that is to ensure that all tourists coming in are vaccinated.”
The Health minister, during his debut press conference held on August 12 echoed a message and vision which had been shared by Nigel Dakin, TCI Governor ahead of the first batch of UK-gifted vaccines arrival to the Turks and Caicos.
“What this allows us to do, is to market the Turks and Caicos Islands as a vaccination-only destination. So, that says to the world, we are a safe holiday destination that gives confidence to persons boarding that plane who are vaccinated that once they get into the Turks and Caicos Islands, the people they interact with, who are other visitors will be a vaccinated and the adults we have, at least 67 per cent of them are fully vaccinated.”
Cancellations are expected by the tourism and travel industry. Cancellations are already being recorded to the destination.
Among the other Caribbean region countries restricting inbound travellers to vaccinated-only visitors are Anguilla, Puerto Rico and St. Kitts and Nevis, according to Travel Weekly.com.
CANARI outlines climate priorities ahead of Cop28
The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) informed that the Caribbean Climate Justice Alliance, in preparation for the upcoming annual COP28 in 2023, launched its “Caribbean Climate Justice and Resilience Agenda,” outlining the priorities for climate justice and resilience in vulnerable Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS).
In a press release, CANARI highlighted that the agenda recognizes the major threat of climate change to the region as well as aims to louden the voices of the at-risk groups “on the frontlines of the climate crisis and catalyze actions for climate justice and local resilience in the Caribbean SIDS.”
The priorities stated under the agenda are:
- Curbing emissions to limit global temperature
increase to 1.5 ̊C
- Scaling up locally-led solutions for adaptation and
loss and damage
- Improving access to and delivery of climate finance
for frontline communities, small and micro enterprises, and civil society organizations as part of a ‘whole of society’ approach
- Scaling up just, nature-based solutions for resilience
- Supporting a just transition for pro-poor, inclusive,
sustainable and resilient development
- Promoting gender equity and social inclusion
approaches to climate action
- Promoting youth and intergenerational equity as
core to the climate response
- Integrating a rights-based and earth-centered
approach in addressing all these priorities and ensuring climate justice
The at-risk groups referred to in the release include small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, rural women producers, income-poor people, elderly and disabled people, Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, migrants, and LGBTQIA+ people.
Being cognizant of the severity of the effects of climate change on the Caribbean, CANARI referred to the fact that the very existence of the region is on the line.
“If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated and global temperature exceeds 1.5 ̊C, the impacts of rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes, rainfall variability, ocean acidification, and other changes threaten the very existence of our way of life in the Caribbean and other SIDS that have contributed the least to global emissions.”
CARICOM Sec Gen speaks on Gender Based Violence
“Everyone must continue to invest in preventing violence against our women and girls (VAWG). It is an investment in our shared future,” were the words of Dr. Carla N. Barnett, CARICOM Secretary-General, as she reiterated the need for solutions against VAWG.
She called attention to VAWG as she gave a speech surrounding the annual campaign “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” which runs from November 25 to December 10, 2023.
Barnett expresses the well-known fact that VAWG is one of the most prevalent issues affecting all corners of society.
“VAWG remains one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations in the world and cuts across all races, cultures, genders, and educational backgrounds,” she maintained, as she continued to point out the sad reality that this is still a major issue despite regional and global policies.
“Despite the existence of regional and global policies and legislation to combat VAWG, weak enforcement and discriminatory practices remain significant barriers to ending VAWG.”
The Secretary-General highlighted statistics for VAWG, bringing attention to how serious and embedded this issue is in society.
She said that globally, 736 million women—nearly one in three—have experienced violence—physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or even both.
For the Caribbean region, she said surveys conducted between 2016 and 2019 inform us that one in two women experience intimate partner violence, which is higher than the global average.
In continuation, Barnett expressed that the campaign calls everyone to action against VAWG, including “development partners, civil society organizations, women’s organizations, youth, the private sector, and the media.” Also, world governments are being asked to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention.
Ending her address, the Secretary-General urged everyone to wear the color orange for the duration of the campaign, as well as on the 25th of each month, “as a symbol of hope for a brighter future where women and girls live free from violence.”
Sea Patrol Vessels Approved by Cabinet, October 11 Meeting
#TurksandCaicos, November 25, 2023 – Her Excellency the Governor, Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, chaired the 26th meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday, 11 October 2023 at the Governor’s Office, Providenciales.
All Members were present except the Hon. Josephine Connolly.
- Approved the Consultation Report on the Proposed Amendments to the Turks and Caicos Islands Immigration Ordinance with amendments and agreed for the amended document to be brought back to Cabinet for final approval for onward submission to the House of Assembly.
- Approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG) and Geta Crew Holding Ltd. for a mixed use development project on the island of Grand Turk, with the view of entering into a Development Agreement as per the Encouragement of Development Ordinance and the National Investment Policy.
- Approved the renewal of rental lease agreement, for various Government offices, between TCIG and Waterloo Property Management, Grand Turk.
- Approved the awarding of the following contracts:
- PN 005694, TR 23/13, Furniture and Equipment for NJS Francis Building; and
- PN 005696, TR 22/10, Purchase of Patrol Vessels.
- It noted the update from Her Excellency the Governor regarding the upcoming visit of UK Ministers to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
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