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“Listen to the people… We are speaking”

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#TurksandCaicos, October 26, 2021 – I have spent the past week listening, observing and discussing with the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, about the proposal of the PNP Government to transition from the TCI Tourist Board to a Destination Management Organization (DMO) and a Tourism Authority.

In reading the statement issued by the Ministry of Tourism and in tuning into the press conference held by the Premier to address the discontent amongst residents about the changes, I have a lot of concern about the manner and timing of such an important decision being made with no justified reason, no ingenious alterative being introduce and no democratic support for his intention.

Without any educational campaign or public meeting to deal with such a huge and long standing change to our indigenous and trusted Tourism Board, the PNP has already closed up their offices abroad. But why were the people of Turks and Caicos not made aware and consulted prior to these changes?

We have a right to understand what the changes mean first, and the public should be given the opportunity to express any concerns before such a major plan is rolled out as final. Consultation is not when you have already made up your mind and presented your ideas to a small audience without getting your public on board. Why were we left out of such an important dialogue? And if we were not invited to the table before it started, how can we believe we will be welcomed there once it is in place?

I am all for progress and promotion of our country, and while the Premier can say that he promoted a Destination Management Organization in his plans to the country, he did not take the time to respectfully tell us that he was planning to shut down the Tourist Board in order to bring about these changes.

Why this surprise approach? Why campaign to give the impression that added support was coming to the body that has led an extremely successful tourism sector for years, when in fact you were planning to dismantle it?

To dismantle the work of the TCI Tourist Board, which has won awards and led the country to many bright moments since it was created, without so much as a proper breakdown of what we are transitioning to is undemocratic and this action needs to be put on pause or stopped.

I support any idea or concept which I believe will bring value to the lives of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. But I cannot support this rushed concept which I believe is a risky gamble with our leading industry. I cannot support the way this idea was introduced to us. I cannot support the lack of transparency and I do not support the seeming view that the TCI Tourist Board is not good enough.

We have enjoyed amazing growth in the tourism sector in the Turks and Caicos Islands and leading that prosperity was the TCI Tourist Board. You have made that admission as well, so if, from your office, you can see what is wrong then I challenge you to fix it, not to break down what we have because the TCI Tourist Board is not broken.

I believe this organization can be re-tooled, better funded, its ordinance updated and its duties broadened.

We know what we have in the TCI Tourist Board, we do not know if the DMO model will work for our country.

I would like to thank the people, who have over the years, staff this organization for an outstanding job of dedication, creativity and patriotism, and all with scarce resources. We can see the worth of the work you have put in over the years.

Honorable Premier, I ask you to slow down this transition.

Give the people who put you in a real opportunity to hear you out on these new changes, but more importantly, give yourself a real opportunity to hear us.

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Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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