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September 1: Tourists must be VAXXED to visit TCI

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#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.

Others say it is right move to make in order to protect these islands.

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.

 

 

Bahamas News

GBPA invests $1.1 million in major road infrastructure improvements for city of Freeport

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#TheBahamas, May 20, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) will commence its $1.1 million road resurfacing project in Freeport, Grand Bahama on Sunday, May 22, 2022 beginning with the Fishing Hole Road, and West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout.

“Our City Maintenance and Management section is excited to begin this important initiative to resurface roadways within Freeport,” said Troy McIntosh, GBPA Deputy Director of Building and Development Services.  “Our city has been through many challenging storm events which did catastrophic damage to infrastructure around the island, including our roads.

“But our community is resilient, and we are seeing a positive shift in the economic tide,” continued McIntosh. “Excitement for future opportunities and anticipation of new investments is palpable through the city, so we knew this was the ideal time to start this aspect of Freeport’s much-needed makeover to which GBPA is fully committed.”

Roadworks are scheduled for main thoroughfares and a number of residential roads.  These areas include the Fishing Hole Road, West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout, West Atlantic Drive at Rayvin Mall roundabout, Beach Way Drive, Bahama Reef Boulevard, Pioneers Way, Waterfall Drive, Tarrytown Street and Grand Bahama Highway.  “We selected these locations using our Road Rating System, which allows inspectors to assess the condition and rideability of our roads on an annual basis,” added Mr. McIntosh.

The GBPA roadworks project went out to bid in December 2020.  In March 2022, the bid was awarded to Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM), who specializes in heavy civil engineering projects including major highways.

“We ask motorists to drive with due care and attention while roadwork is underway,” Mr. McIntosh advised.  Flagmen and temporary traffic lights will be in position to direct traffic.  Please obey the speed limit and posted signs to help ensure the safety of all motorists and crews as they conduct work.  Delays are expected as there will be partial lane closures in some areas.”

The initial phase of road resurfacing is scheduled to be completed at the end of June 2022.  For the latest updates and information on redirected travel routes, residents can follow any of the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s social media sites or visit its website at www.gbpa.com.

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Caribbean News

RTCIPF Marine Branch and USCG Working Together in Keeping Our Borders Secure

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#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – During the afternoon of Wednesday 19th May 2022, a call was made to the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre via VHF radio that a suspicious vessel was sighted around 35 miles south east of Providenciales. The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and with the support of a US Coast Guard (USCG) plane, safely intercepted an overloaded vessel carrying irregular migrants.

Following delicate coordination and the stabilization of the boat which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and none of the occupants was wearing life vests, the RTCIPF marine unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment and Tactical Unit officers to support the delicate operation.

The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants after which, the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 10:30pm with a total of 110 persons (84 males and 24 females and 2 juveniles) who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department.

Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Once again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was overcrowded, unsafe, risking the lives of those on board. This demonstrates the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, USCG, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and the RTCIPF Tactical Unit to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos safe.  In the last couple of months around 768 individuals on 8 dangerous vessels have been intercepted which is testament to the professionalism of our teams here in the TCI and I am very grateful to the passing vessel who raised the alarm.  I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call Crimes Stoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477 (TIPS) not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

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Education

Ten Selected for the TCREA Real Estate Mentorship Program

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#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – Since the official announcement of the Turks & Caicos Real Estate Association’s High School Mentorship Program, ten mentees have been selected for the inaugural group and will begin their journey on the road to embracing the fundamentals of the real estate field this month.

TCREA Ambassador and Director of the mentorship program, Mr. Trevor Musgrove, shared how pleased the committee was to have received thirty applications for the program, “We extended the opportunity to high schoolers and young college students aged 13-17.  Initially, the invitation for applications was shared only with Providenciales students because of the logistical challenge to accommodate in-person sessions with sister island students, as all our committee members are based in Providenciales.

Luckily, once the Ministry of Education came on board and endorsed the program, Honourable Rachel Taylor immediately encouraged us to extend the mentorship opportunity to all islands, pledging her Ministry’s commitment to handling the necessary authorizations and cost to ensure successful applicants outside of Provo would be able travel here as needed,” said Musgrove.

 The successful applicants and their respective schools are as follows:

·     Clement Howell High – Dashawn Brooks, Alyssa Callum

·      Raymond Gardiner High – Olique Stubbs, Lewis Walkin, Jr.

·      Precious Treasures – Aniyah Bovie

·      Maranatha Academy – Shamya Missick

·      British West Indies Collegiate – Pavla Lalakova, Andino Parker

·      Louise Garland Thomas High – Abnise Noel, Antoine Gedeon

Musgrove said they were pleased to have had applicants from North Caicos and were hopeful to have students from Grand Turk and South Caicos among the group, however no applications were received from those islands.

On Tuesday, May 10th the final group came together for a virtual meet-up and briefing, where they were formally introduced to the program’s mentors and were given an overview of what to expect in the coming months.

The teens will receive a monthly educational module over the next six months and will be provided 1-2 weeks to internalize the information. They will then enjoy a monthly in-person session with their mentors where they will put their real estate acumen to the test in interactive sessions, field trips, and more.

Program mentor Manfred Smith of Sotheby’s Turks & Caicos shared his elation for the program’s momentum thus far, “We are excited about providing this opportunity to introduce high school students to the real estate industry.  From the initial feedback, the students are also very keen to learn, which makes it rewarding for all as we contribute to the development of tomorrow’s professionals.”

Smith says the program also demonstrates TCREA’s continued commitment as good corporate citizens in the rapidly growing country.  The committee hopes that the mentees would grasp all that they can as they continue their educational pursuits.

The program’s Facebook page, @tcreamentors, is live and will document the group’s journey as they move through the program’s phases.  Along with Musgrove and Smith, the community can get to know more about the other committee members: Blair MacPherson of REMAX; Nina Siegenthaler of Sotheby’s; Vernica Delancy and Dedra Gray of Keller Williams; and Sean O’neill, of The Agency through the social media page as well.

At the end of the program, the students will sit a mock real estate license exam and will enjoy a retreat for a fun and memorable close-out. 

It is TCREA’s hope that this initiative will garner an interest and appreciation for the industry among high-schoolers and will act as springboard to the development of the next generation of local real estate professionals in these islands.

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