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South Caicos residents condemn tearing down historic buildings, work stopped for now

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#TurksandCaicos, October 8, 2021 – South Caicos residents are counting it a big win and a respectful response to their outcry about demolition of historic buildings, when government on Tuesday pressed at least the pause button on plans to tear down the relics.  Of particular concern to the people of south – for both historical and sentimental reasons – is the Old School building.

It has been rotting for decades now but the islanders want to see it restored as its treasured significance though dating back to the 1890s remains relevant, even visible in every South Caicos native.  Every child received their formative education there up until the 1970s and those linked to the island are appalled at the idea that it was nearly torn down.

Gutting of the structure had already started but now it is saved, due to the intervention of the Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development, Akierra Missick.  Informed of the concerns of residents, she worked quickly to stop the demolition.

A town meeting was on Monday night held between the residents of South Caicos and the Government as the island is poised for significant take off with the coming of its new airport and increased tourism activity due to continuing resort developments.

On July 30, the TCI Government including Governor Nigel Dakin, Premier Washington Misick and DP E Jay Saunders signed a development agreement with JEM TCI Holdings Ltd for the expansion of the East Bay Resort on South Caicos.

The Office of the Premier in early August informed the expansion would include:  outfitting the addition of forty-seven (47) room units, two (2) additional pools, a restaurant and bar, wedding facilities and brand enhancement. The government said of the investment, “This development is expected to increase stay-overs on the island of South Caicos and will enhance current offerings for visitors interested in dive and watersports activities.”

However, for some descendants of South Caicos looking on, there is concern that in an effort to modernise the tourism offering of the fishing capital, historic buildings are under threat.

Concern was expressed for the old library which was once a salt shed and the old school building, which dates back to the 1890s.  The now derelict school was where children of South Caicos were educated right into the 1970s.

Comments from those who hail from the country’s ‘fishing capital’ revealed a readiness to challenge any idea of knocking these treasured relics down.

But the buildings will have to come down, explained the Minister of PPID in her own statement on Thursday.

“We have to acknowledge that whilst emotions may run high, the amenities in South Caicos should not remain stagnant. This Government is now guided by the National Physical Development Plan and part of the Plan requires the development of sites that are usable and beneficial to all users. The Old School in its present state was a building that was closed and unsafe for anyone to enter into or use. It was not serving the needs of the Community,” said Minister Missick.

There is hope the zealous residents will agree after a plan for the structure is presented.  The Minister explaining the building is beyond salvaging.

“Based upon a structural assessment and visits by the Public Works Department, as well as independent contractors; all agree that the present state of the building cannot be rehabilitated or renovated. Further, the Ministry of PPID will work with the Ministry of Heritage to honor the history of the building to the Community of South Caicos in the new design, which will be a Youth and Heritage Centre,” she added, “This pause in the demolition will allow the Ministry of PPID to present the new design to the South Caicos Community and fence off the area properly to allow for the demolition to be done in a safe and secured manner.”

 

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Agreement Signed!  Next Foghorns and Three Times the Arrivals

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#TurksandCaicos, October 13, 2021 – When the foghorns blare again at the Grand Turk Cruise Center it will be well into the Christmas season, but the scheduled arrival of the Carnival Freedom on November 28, will end a 20-month pandemic imposed pause on cruising, the economic life-blood, of the capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“We have eleven meetings since May to make this happen.  I think it’s a huge, huge improvement on what we’ve had before, speaking to the value of the partnership of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government and Carnival and we look to have a long and fruitful relationship,” said Hon Washington Misick, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government today, finally inked a deal with Carnival Corporation, which appeared hinged on the cruise company being granted the green light for an expansion to berthing at the Port, which opened in 2006 on the island of Grand Turk.

The signing of a new Development Agreement followed an October 7 Cabinet approval of the document; the brief ceremony was carried live on Facebook from the Office of the Premier in Grand Turk.

“Indeed as the Premier has stated, we met 11 times and many times in person, you were in every meeting and sometimes with members of Cabinet, the Attorney General and we worked on something that we will all be proud of for many years to come,” said Giora Israel, Senior Vice President Global Port & Destination Development.

Strongly intimated, by Premier Misick, that this expansion had been stalled.  Definitely stated, also by Premier Misick, it is full steam ahead for a resumption of cruising.

“We are confident that cruise ships filled with visitors will be back in time for the high season 21/22. We are not stopping there. Government is investing heavily in the improvement of the Cruise Port and infrastructure in Grand Turk including: Acquisition of a Property to be converted into a Vendors Market. $1.5m dollars has been allocated to refurbish and improve the property. Additional properties will be acquired and developed to accommodate vendors who depend on the cruise industry for their livelihood. 2-million dollars will be spent to construct a floating dock for the Water Sports Operators. We are providing up to $1 million in grants to eligible operators to help them prepare for the reopening of the Cruise Industry,” said the Premier during a National Address on September 23.

Three cruises to Grand Turk are booked for November and December 2021 and if all goes according to schedule – or better – the cruise calls on November 28, December 11, December 12 and December 26 will usher in a happier holiday season for the dozens of companies left in limbo with the crash of cruising in March 2020.

“I really want to thank our employees at the Port.  We have had employees who stayed here for the last two years working hard to maintain the port,” said Mr. Israel as he acknowledged the enthusiasm shown by the TCI Government to complete the deal; he added, “But I also want to thank the Community of Grand Turk.  We are a part of this community; we have been welcomed as a part of this community.  The Community has embraced us and we have embraced the Community, the business community and we need to look at this as a partnership,” expressed Mr. Israel during the live stream.

Outside of cruise tourism, Grand Turk draws dive enthusiasts from around the world and is increasingly experiencing popularity in the luxury villa market.  Nonetheless, these other distinctions for the island which is home to the Parliament and the Governor’s Residence, fall a distant second and third place to the thousands of cruise visitors travelling on four, five and six day itineraries; Cruising is what really brings the boom.

“We’ve had a long partnership of 20 years and this partnership is just getting better.  New horizon, new opportunities and when I look at this magazine, which is a magazine we issued when the port was opened, we expected that the biggest ship would be 1,800 passengers.  Within 90 days of today, we are expecting ships that will be able to carry three times the number of passengers…”

The Development Agreement gives Carnival Corporation the permissions and perimeters to begin a $25 million dock expansion project.  The Turks and Caicos Cabinet informed that the signatories represented:  the Crown, the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Grand Turk Cruise Terminal Ltd and Carnival Corporation.

Details of the Agreement were not revealed, therefore the scope of the expansion remains unknown.   What has been made clear is upon completion of the new dock, the largest ships in Carnival’s fleet will be able to moor in Grand Turk with the high probability that cruise passenger and crew arrivals to the islands of Grand Turk and Salt Cay, will triple.

 

 

 

 

Carnival elation Dec 11

Carnival Freedom Nov 28, dec 26

Carnival freedom Dec 12

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CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases

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October 14, 2021 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) conducted a technical mission to Guyana from September 22nd – 25th, 2021 to undertake site visits as a part of an ongoing assessment of six (6) Member States’ systems for the national surveillance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors. This activity was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Guyana through an Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – funded project.

The aim of the assessment s to provide evidence in support of the development of a Regional Surveillance System for NCDs, a priority under the regional health framework Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016-2025).

During the mission, the CARPHA technical team reviewed the capacity of existing surveillance mechanisms in Guyana to collect, analyse and report on the NCDs and risk factor indicators proposed for the regional surveillance system. These indicators were recommended by a multi-stakeholder meeting series convened in 2020 under the AFD project, which reviewed global, regional, and sub-regional mandates, targets and practices in surveillance for the prevention and control of NCDs.

The CARPHA Team along with senior officials from the Ministry of Health conducted visits to two (2) health centres, the National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health Surveillance, and Statistics Unit.  The results from the overall assessment will be presented to the Ministry of Health Guyana and will also be reviewed alongside results from similar assessments in Anguilla, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname to inform the finalisation of the regional surveillance system design through a regional stakeholder meeting.

The regional NCDs surveillance system would facilitate the reporting and availability of data to inform policy development, planning, and tracking of progress towards meeting for targets NCDs at Regional and National levels.

Through funding from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), CARPHA is leading the Region in Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to prevent and control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean. This project, signed in 2019 with a value of €1,500,000.00, demonstrates the commitment of the Government of France and the French people to supporting the public health priorities of the Caribbean Community through CARPHA.

More information on the Project can be found at: https://www.carpha.org/Projects/Ongoing-Projects/Strengthening-Strategic-Intelligence-and-Partnership-Approaches-To-Prevent-and-Control-NCDs-and-Strengthen-Regional-Health-Security-In-The-Caribbean

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TCI Community College’s Tourism Students attended the NABHOOD International Summit

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#Turks&Caicos Islands, October 14, 2021 –   Students from the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College were afforded the opportunity to attend the 25th Annual International African American Hotel Ownership & Investment Summit & Trade Show; 8th Annual International Multicultural and Heritage Tourism Summit – NABHOOD

The invitation was extended through the Premier’s Office in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Tourism.

Chair of the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Ms. Michelle Hosten chaperoned 3 students:  Jerrika Francis, Danae Dennie; 2nd Year students pursuing an Associate Degree in Tourism Management at the Grand Turk Campus and Christy Ewing, a 1st Year student pursuing an Associate Degree in Tourism Management at the Providenciales Campus.

The students met CEOs from international hospitality brands and most importantly other students from other Caribbean and International Schools. The benefits of this created a wealth of networking opportunities as well as learning about others. They participated in workshops and sessions and spent time with Tourism centered activities and projects.

Ms. Jerrika Francis shared her memories from the conference: “Attending the NABHOOD Summit was a great experience for me. I got to learn more about the Tourism Industry and I also acquired more knowledge on how I can make it in the industry. It was such an honour that I was chosen to represent my Faculty at this event.”

Caribbean Junior Minister and TCI’s Junior Minister, Ms. Danae Dennie gave these highlights: “Attending the NABHOOD African American Hotel Ownership and Investment Summit and the international Multicultural and Heritage Tourism Summit and Trade Show has been such a wonderful experience. I was able to gain great insight into the hospitality and tourism industry.”

Ms. Dennie continued, “I learnt that as a woman in the industry I should always be bold and confident in my abilities. I learnt from various CEOs that you can start from the bottom and make it to the very top. I was also encouraged to “make my own room” if there is none that fits my interests.”

Ms. Dennie concluded her sentiments, “The conference was very informative. I was able to speak with many CEOs and Presidents of various tourism organizations. I was even given the opportunity to speak with the Premier of the TCI. I was so grateful for the opportunity. Therefore, I would like to thank the TCI Government for funding this trip. Lastly, I would like to specially thank the Turks and Caicos Community College for giving me the opportunity to have such amazing experiences.”

Christy Ewing who recently entered the Faculty had this to say: “I was one of the students chosen to go to Miami, Florida for NABHOOD’s 25th Annual Summit and Trade Show. I learnt many interesting things and advice that can be used in my career later on. I also met many new people who gave me a wider insight and perspective on things in the tourism industry.”

She continued, “I had the pleasure of meeting with the Premier of the Turks and Caicos, the Hon. Charles W. Misick, who spoke with us and informed us on his plans for the tourism industry. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity and will be happy to do it again.”

Ms. Hosten gave an overall assessment of the trip and what the students would have experienced while there: “It was an extremely surreal experience meeting and watching CEOs of major international hotel brands as well as large investment firms and suppliers discussing their rise to the top, what their brand represents, their bottom line during and post COVID.”

Ms. Hosten continued, “Their words of wisdom to students and their willingness to invest in US hospitality institutions without hesitation, especially black America and other minority groups was so profound. They understand where most of their Supervisors and Management pool will stem from so creating systems, programmes and funding in these groups are all worthwhile investments.”

It left a lasting impact on Ms. Hosten: “Being there was like being at the Hollywood of Hospitality players awards and I am most humbled to have been given this chance to carry students to experience this wealth of opportunities first hand and the many avenues in this industry to get there.”

Hon Rachel Taylor met the students upon arrival back to the Turks and Caicos Islands and she expressed her thanks to the Team for ably representing the country and the College. She was thanked for her confidence in allowing the students to be a part of this educational venture.

Students, you got a chance to shine and represent the Turks and Caicos Islands and the TCI Community College. Thank You!

We are TCICC!

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