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Opposition Leader wanted an end to Carnival monopoly; says Gov’t missed the boat



#TurksandCaicos, October 22, 2021 – Did the Turks and Caicos miss a chance to become greater owners of the cruise industry in the recent Development Agreement signing by country leaders with CarnivalCorp?  The Leader of the Opposition Edwin Astwood and he says, some resident of Grand Turk seem to think so.  In a statement issued following the signing ceremony he chided the Government for missing the boat.

“The Opposition welcomes the signing of the new Carnival Contract, but with a degree of caution; hoping that this time the Contract is in the best interest of the people of Grand Turk, and the Turks and Caicos on a whole.

Many persons are feeling that the better decision for our people and the country was for us to take possession of our Cruise Port and carry out the necessary upgrades and extension, as needed and those required by Carnival, as a joint initiative or as a Government contract for our facility.

The potential of other ships call into Grand Turk was literally impossible giving the tight restrictions, and the “exclusivity” the previous contract offered to Carnival Cruise Line.”

Astwood, who is a Grand Turk member of parliament, resident and business owner stands to benefit as much as anyone when cruising to the Capital resumes in December, however, he said his concern is about more than what or who Carnival Cruise Line is projected to ferry into the country; it is about ending 15-year monopoly.

“While there may be perhaps a few short-term benefits, and really only a few of so much to the signing of this new contract with Carnival not taking possession of the Facility at this time is certainly a great loss of opportunity for the country to realize much greater revenue from the Cruise Industry in Grand Turk.

The previous contract was seen to be a huge albatross around the necks of the Grand Turk and Salt Cay residents, and others from around our country. Plagued with so many restrictions, it was akin to modern day slavery when trying to do business with the cruise line,” he said in a statement issued on October 14.

Announcements made by the Premier in June (2021) revealed that talks were ongoing about widening the options for other cruise brands into Grand Turk.  Residents at a town meeting applauded the idea and the Opposition Leader reflected on the absent update on those negotiations.

From the LOO’s statement:  “The Hon. Premier, in a press conference in June, told the country that Royal Caribbean will be joining Carnival in cruising to Grand Turk. He went on to say that “Royal Caribbean currently has a technical team on the ground in Grand Turk”, adding that the “Government will make some moves to create a level playing field so that everyone who is interested has the opportunity to benefit. We are still working out some details with Carnival because most people would remember that part of Carnival’s arrangement was EXCLUSIVITY on Grand Turk,” he said.”

Premier Washington Misick responded to the concerns raised about the lack of details supplied about  the new development agreement and held a press conference on Wednesday (Oct 20) in an effort to shed light on the finer points.  The media event improved understanding, but still left many questions unanswered.

The public and media were told the new agreement was an amendment to the existing arrangement.  It gave TCI Government a larger slice of the passenger tax and more autonomy on how to spend on development and enhancement projects.  Whether the life of the contract is lengthened, what concessions – if any – were offered, the specifics on the dock expansion and the scope of the “other works” included in Carnival’s $25 million dollar investment were not disclosed.

“We can only hope that the Premier and the PNP Administration had the foresight THIS TIME to avoid the people of the Turks & Caicos Islands, in particular the people of Grand Turk, being trapped and suffocated by “exclusivities” in any form, being given for another 20 year deal!!!, said Hon Edwin Astwood, who is also the People’s Democratic Movement party leader.

The Premier also said a new dock to accommodate Royal Caribbean Cruise line, which has expressed interest in the destination, will not come before the next budget cycle, which is April 2022.



Bahamas News

Bahamas and Germany Enter Agreement to Facilitate Direct Airlift



#TheBahamas, December 4, 2021 – The governments of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and of the Federal Republic of Germany entered into a technical bilateral Heads of Agreement aimed at fostering closer ties between both countries.  A central feature is an Air Traffic Agreement to facilitate direct flights from Germany to The Bahamas, which would in turn facilitate movement of goods and services, ease of direct shipment as opposed to going through a third country, among other things.

The HOA was signed during a ceremony at the Ministry of Works & Utilities on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.  The Hon Alfred Sears, who served as Acting Minister of Tourism, Investments & Aviation, and His Excellency Dr. Stefan Keil, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to The Bahamas signed the agreement.  Also present were: Permanent Secretary Reginald Saunders, Ministry of Tourism Investment & Aviation; Luther Smith, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works & Utilities; Bacchus Rolle, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works & Utilities; Melanie Roach, Director of Public Works; and Carl Christian Illing, Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bahamas.

Mr. Sears said it was a pleasure both countries entered into such an agreement, which he deemed would bring together, two peoples.

The Bahamas and Germany formed diplomatic ties in 1974 and have enjoyed successes in commercial enterprise, tourism and family ties as many Bahamians live in Germany.

“This relationship has been growing and this (agreement) represents the ease of travel, business and social interaction between our two countries,” Mr. Sears said, adding that Bahamians consume and use German products namely vehicles, pharmaceuticals and other items.

In other areas, Mr. Sears noted that The Bahamas is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world susceptible to effects of global warming. He thanked Germany for its role in the recent COP26 held in Glasgow, Scotland, during which that country pledged some twenty million Euros for disaster risk reduction initiatives.

He recalled Hurricane Dorian, which struck Abaco and Grand Bahama from September 1-3, 2019 and, as a result, residents in the path experienced storm surges 20 feet high, many lives were lost, clinics, other public buildings and infrastructure were damaged and/or destroyed, and The Bahamas lost a large portion of its GDP.

“The commitment of Germany resonates with us,” Mr. Sears said, “as we rebuild and build the infrastructure stronger.”

The minister shared the possibility of acquiring more vehicles from Germany, targeting more stopover visitors from there with projection of higher spend and enjoyment of more cultural activities.  Permanent Secretary Saunders supported this, by confirming that direct air travel is being facilitated through the agreement.

Ambassador Keil too acknowledged the close relationship between both countries, and that the technical agreement will further strengthen those ties.


By Lindsay Thompson


Photo Caption: Photos show Minister Sears and Ambassador Keil during the signing ceremony at the Ministry of Works & Utilities, November 30, 2021.

(BIS Photos/Yontalay Bowe)



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Caribbean News




The fastest internet just got even faster…for the same great price


Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – 1st, December 2021 –  Digicel+ is gifting The Turks and Caicos Islands faster home fibre speeds for Christmas, and beyond. Fulfilling the brand promise of Simply More (more power, more speed and more reliability), customers will now benefit from up to 2x faster download speeds on broadband and bundle plans.

This is all about a better experience for customers, and not about the cost. This free upgrade gives Digicel+ customers an even better home fibre internet experience, for anyone, on any device. And as part and parcel of the digital lifestyle, Digicel+ is the gateway to a Smart Life, which means that state-of-the-art Smart Solutions like Smart Homes and Smart Security are no longer just concepts, but a powerful reality.

Addison Stoddard CEO of Digicel TCI said, “This Christmas, we’re excited to reward customers with a super slick, superfast, super reliable home fibre experience, underpinned by service delivery that is, of course, second to none. Our entry-level plans are the fastest on the island and this puts us head and shoulders above any other internet offering in the country.”

The upgraded packages now start with download speeds of 50Mbps, and go up to 300Mbps for the speed demons and heavy gamers out there. This allows the Turks and Caicos Islands to connect to the global knowledge economy, have amazing entertainment options, and power their personal and professional experiences, thanks to these new superfast internet speeds.

Addison Stoddard continued, “It’s more of what our customers expect; more of what they want and it’s another way that we can be a part of our customers’ digital lives – at home, on the go, anywhere and everywhere. Simply put, Digicel+ is simply more.”

Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has solidified the importance of having a steady, powerful and reliable home internet connection, mainly due to many schools going online and parents working remotely. Now, with even faster internet speeds, customers get the best home fibre experience every time. This provides opportunities for MORE working, MORE schooling, MORE gaming, and MORE streaming with Digicel+.

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Bahamas News

Guys, Have 2 Minutes? Here’s How to Check Yourself for Testicular Cancer



Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer for men in The Bahamas.  It is highly curable — if you know it’s there!


November 30, 2021 – Men…how often do you perform a self-exam to check yourselves for testicular cancer?

While it’s a relatively rare form of cancer, young men aren’t exempt – in fact, testicular cancer occurs most often in young and middle-aged men. The good news is, it can usually be treated successfully.

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump on your testicle. But that’s not the only sign of this disease.

Men who have testicular cancer may experience several different kinds of symptoms, says oncologist Timothy Gilligan, MD, a Medical Oncologist at Cleveland Clinic who specializes in treating testicular cancer.

Testicular cancer most frequently strikes men younger than age 44, and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for men ages 15 to 34. It is almost always curable if found early, Dr. Gilligan says, and it is usually curable even when at a later stage. So it’s important to know signs and symptoms.

Here, Dr. Gilligan says, are five possible signs of testicular cancer you might not know about:

5 Testicular Cancer Symptoms That Aren’t a Lump  – Know what to look for and catch it early

  1. A feeling of heaviness or pressure in your scrotum.
  2. Change in testicle size or firmness.Certain types of testicular tumors can reduce testosterone or increase estrogen in the body, which can result in a change in testicle size or firmness.
  3. Swollen legs.When a tumor spreads to the lymph node, it can constrict blood flow in the veins and result in a blood clot. The clots often occur in the legs, which causes them to swell. You might even experience blood clot symptoms such as pain and difficulty breathing.
  4. Lower back pain and shortness of breath.These are symptoms of advanced testicular cancer, meaning the cancer has spread to lymph nodes behind your stomach. Shortness of breath also may signal that the cancer has spread to your lungs, which may make it harder for air to move in and out.
  5. Breast growth or tenderness.In rare cases, hormone changes also can cause breast tenderness or growth of breast tissue. Some tumors can secrete high levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which stimulates breast development.

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor right away, Dr. Gilligan says. If your physician diagnoses you with epididymitis or orchitis and the symptoms do not resolve quickly with antibiotics, request an ultrasound to evaluate for a testicular tumor.

“While up to 95 percent of men with testicular cancer are cured, it’s important to get care quickly if you’re experiencing symptoms because testicular cancers usually grow fast,” Dr. Gilligan says. “If there is disease, the earlier it is treated, the greater than chance for success.”


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