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REDEMPTION:  Providenciales Int’l Airport “Much Better Organised” for Travellers

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

#TurksandCaicos, March 29, 2022 – In its busiest weekend handling 13,000 travellers, the Providenciales International Airport (PLS) scored sky high marks for performance after a dismal rating just seven days before.

“Yes, it was much better organised.  Long lines still, but better organized,” said a worker who was able to feel the island breezes swirling through the departure area of the airport; a young woman getting off for the day and seemingly happy to offer a positive analysis.

A week earlier, the congestion was so thick, no winds could fan the passengers or employees and there would be nowhere to stand and engage in friendly banter.

Last weekend the congestion was labelled “horrendous” and an “emergency.”  This past weekend, there was the kind of order more befitting one of the Caribbean’s fastest-growing, luxury destinations.

“The TCIAA met with several industry stakeholders (TCIG, the Tourist Board, TCHTA, airline representatives, and operators in a web conference on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022.”

That meeting resulted in a collaboration which has turned lemons into lemonade.

Managers of the country’s airports, the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) had rolled out a needs assessment list to the general public and met with stakeholders to create a plan.

While all elements of the plan did not materialize in time for weekend buzz, the string of ideas woven together in that virtual meeting compensated well to give the passengers an overall improved experience in arrivals and departures.

A key change which enabled the relief; reducing the length of time passengers actually spent at the airport.

“Several hotels have agreed to delay check-out or transport departing guests to the airport to avoid congestion in the check-in area during peak hours. To this end, the TCIAA encourages persons traveling this weekend to arrive no earlier than two (2) hours and no later than one (1) hour before their departing flight. In addition, the TCIAA and Airlines will be working together to assist persons during check-in to ensure that no one misses their scheduled flight,” said the TCIAA in a statement issued on Friday.

Our news organisation’s observation on Sunday, included passenger queues which were clearly defined for airline check-in and security check points.   More workers including volunteers who were assigned to guiding and supporting passengers were easily identified and included student interns from the Clement Howell High School Tourism Club.

There were no lines hanging out of the terminal building, no guests seated on the ground as they waited to depart the country and more regard for a healthy environment given that, officially, the Coronavirus Pandemic is not over.

Tents were erected outside the departure are in the event of an overflow.

Less crowding also meant less heat and with the open-air concept of the Providenciales International Airport departure lounge, which is not an air-conditioned space, it was vital that congestion be reduced to ensure comfort was heightened.

On Saturday, “there was live music playing” as had been the promise.  It was also agreed guests would receive complimentary drinks.

An air-conditioned tent was one of the plans which fell through; it was due to be set up on the airside of the PLS.

Interim CEO of the TCIAA informed that without the tent when guests arrive, it would be another “tough weekend.”

“Our tent plan will not be in place today as expected. Our contractor was delivering a different concept to our expectation.  We will work through this over the weekend,” said Godfrey Smith, TCIAA CEO.

Still, processing of arriving guests was to benefit from better co-ordination.  With the assistance of the Deputy Governor’s Office and the Ministry of Border Services, a revised approach came into play.

“Border Control Services (Immigration and Customs) will schedule additional staff to assist with the processing of inbound passengers. In addition, local airline agents will liaise with their respective airlines to ensure that passengers possess the required forms for processing through Border Control before arrival in the TCI.  The TCIAA will also ensure that additional forms and pens are available from within the airside holding tent to allow passengers to complete the required documents before entering Providenciales International Airport Turks and Caicos Islands Tel: 649.946.4420 Web: www.tciairports.com Email: nikeva@tciairports.com FB: www.facebook.com/tciairports Twitter: @tciaa the Immigration Hall. Health status cards for arriving passengers have been discontinued since December 1st, 2021,” was explained in the March 25, statement.

The FastTrack service offered by the PLS for a premium price fell far short however.

“There were not enough FastTrack hosts to handle the number of travellers who paid for it.  They’re going to have to do something about that,” explained one woman who saw multiple FastTrackers agitated by the inability to get the service expected.

The real issue at the PLS is no secret.  The airport is grossly undersized, and despite a $10 Million make-over which increased the parking apron, improved the airplane runway and doubled the size of the terminal building, the country’s #1 airport gateway is not fit for purpose.

Government has informed that it will take upwards of $350 Million to create a more ideal airport facility; but its fruition is at least four years down the road.

An immediate or interim solution has not been announced.

The TCIAA and its partners will however have other opportunities to fine tune its service at the Providenciales International Airport, as resorts have confirmed that bookings for April 2022 will top March 2022, for another record-setting month in tourism.

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FortisTCI Statement – Rising Fuel Prices and Electricity Bills

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#TurksandCaicos, June 1, 2022 – The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to affect the supply and cost of fuel worldwide, and significant increases in fuel prices are expected to continue in the upcoming months. This translates into higher electricity bills.

We empathize with the challenges customers are facing due to higher electricity bills at this time. While the cost of fuel is beyond our control, we want to help ease the burden as much as possible. We remain committed to keeping customers informed about these global trends.

Customer notices were issued back in April, and information was shared via mainstream media channels on these developments. At the time, we also shared that our fuel supplier, Sun Oil Ltd, projected further increases in the cost of fuel in the months ahead, and this has now become a reality for utilities and customers. These higher fuel costs are reflected in the fuel factor rate on customer electricity bills.

Fuel Factor Rate Increases

Due to fuel price increases in the month of May, the fuel factor for Grand Turk and Salt Cay customers increased from $0.1672 to $0.2053, and from $0.1962 to $0.2405 for Providenciales, North and Middle Caicos customers, respectively. These represent an increase of 23%, which are reflected on June electricity bills. For example, if the fuel factor on May’s bill was $100, this would change to $123 on June’s bill, provided that the customer’s consumption remained the same month over month.

The fuel factor rate for customers on South Caicos was $0.2299 in May and an increase in the rate is also expected. The fuel factor rate is calculated monthly as outlined in the Electricity Ordinance. As FortisTCI is a regulated electricity company, the fuel factor rate is sent to the TCI Government’s Energy and Utilities Commissioners Office each month for authentication.

What To Expect In The Months Ahead

Based on the latest information received from our fuel supplier, the cost of fuel will rise significantly over the next several months, which will cause a further increase in the fuel factor and ultimately an increase in electricity bills. Similar to the rising prices at gas stations, grocery stores, and across other sectors, the utility industry is also recording the same upward trend due to global market factors.

In addition, we are now in the summer months and higher temperatures at this time of the year may affect electricity costs. Higher temperatures can mean increased use of air conditioning, which is the biggest consumer of electricity in the home.

Customer Support Measures

The following measures are now in effect:

No penalties on late payments during the months of July and August 2022.

No disconnections for balances less than 60 days overdue from July to August 2022. Payment plans on a case-by-case basis.

To further assist customers, FortisTCI will launch a series of interactive online educational sessions on how to manage energy use.

We encourage customers to keep track of their electricity use by signing up for My Online Account. Visit www.fortistci.com to register. My Online Account allows customers to set budget limits on their electricity usage and receive alerts when their consumption limit is approaching.

We believe that renewable energy is a pathway to lower energy costs and we are working with TCI Government to implement supportive regulations. As your partner in energy, we will continue to expand our renewable energy programs and reduce our dependence on diesel fuel.

 

Ruth Forbes

President and Chief Executive Officer

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Bahamas News

Beautiful Grand Bahama extended for additional 12 weeks

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By: Robyn Adderley

Bahamas Information Services

 

#GrandBahama, The Bahamas, July 2, 2022 – Hundreds of Beautiful Grand Bahama workers cheered when told by Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey on Friday that their 12-week work programme has been extended for 12 additional weeks.

The employees are from all communities of the island.

While addressing the employees at the Grand Lucayan, Minister Moxey said, “Your hard work and dedication has begun delivering the results we, at the Ministry for Grand Bahama, envisioned when we launched this program back in April.

“We wanted to give hope, provide an opportunity for our young people, especially our inner-city residents, to make an honest living, while also helping to revitalize their communities by tackling issues that have negatively affected the environment and diminished the historical and cultural beauty of our beloved island, which affects its attractiveness as a world-class destination.”

The goal of the programme, she said, is to transform lives and communities.

“Many of you here today, are mothers, fathers, siblings, and possibly the main breadwinners in your household, and the time you’ve dedicated to this program has restored your faith in our island’s recovery.”

It was the belief of the Prime Minister, the Hon. Philip Davis, when assigning her to the Ministry, she continued, that Grand Bahama could be one of the most powerful economies in the country.

The programme, the Minister continued, is designed to transform communities, and not just a cleanup campaign.

Minister Moxey then pointed out how the transformations have already begun:  Tripp Circle Project is designed to house displaced families to provide short-term housing relief, including trauma counseling and a job readiness programme to help them get back on their feet; the Peel Street Project is designed to transform a historic site for national security into a Police Museum and Cultural Centre for visitors and residents to enjoy; the Pinder’s Point Historic Lighthouse area will be converted into a community visitor attraction and entrepreneurship centre, as part of the Community Tourism & Cultural Initiative; the Pelican Bay Festival Grounds will be transformed into another tourism & cultural center for East Grand Bahama, to create year-round economic activity for the residents; and work in West Grand Bahama, to transform the community from Eight Mile Rock to West End, clearing bushes and debris, beautifying spaces for both residents and visitors to enjoy.

The government, she said, is committed to “rebuilding, revolutionizing, and restoring Grand Bahama but we cannot do it without your help. The people of Grand Bahama are courageous and resilient; it is finally Grand Bahama’s time, and the Ministry for Grand Bahama wants to assist you with preparing yourselves for future opportunities.”

To assist the employees further, continued Minister Moxey, Pastor Barry Morris was invited to assist those who may have made choices in their past and now have a record.  Representatives were also present from the Labour Department and Immigration to further assist with those areas.

“Like I’ve been saying all along, this is what Beautiful Grand Bahama is all about – it’s a holistic approach to rebuilding our communities and the lives of our people.”

Minister Moxey then announced that the programme has been extended for an additional 12 weeks and the room erupted with cheers.

As a surprise for the Minister, Corey Nixon serenaded her on the saxophone with an Alicia Keys song, “If I Aint Got You.” In response to this, Minister Moxey used the opportunity to inform the employees of the $5,000 grant for the Orange Economy.

The Minister closed the event with, “See you on Monday.”

 

Release: BIS

Photo Captions: 

Header: The Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey on Friday, July 1 announced to hundreds of employees of the Beautiful Grand Bahama initiative that the programme has been extended for an additional 12 weeks.

1st insert: Hundreds of residents gathered in the Ballroom of the Grand Lucayan Resort on Friday, July 1 for the closing ceremony of Beautiful Grand Bahama, a 12-week initiative geared towards cleaning up every community on the island. During the ceremony, Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey, explained what is intended for the areas the employees had been working in.

2nd insert: Saxophonist Corey Nixon serenaded Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey on Friday, July 1 at the Grand Lucayan Ballroom at the end of the Closing Ceremony of the Beautiful Grand Bahama 12-week initiative. Minister Moxey explained that there is a $5,000 grant for the Orange Economy where talented artists and creatives can receive funding.

(BIS Photos/Andrew Miller)

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Caribbean News

US Milestone Celebrated

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#Jamaica, June 30, 2022 – This year marks the United States of America’s (USA) 246th anniversary of Independence, and the milestone was celebrated with a reception on June 28 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.  The event also featured the traditional United States Marine Corps Colour Guard ceremony.

Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, who represented the Government of Jamaica, extended congratulations to the Government and people of the United States (US) on this significant achievement.

“The Government of Jamaica is pleased to join in commemorating this milestone with our American friends and partners. Today we celebrate a nation that continues to give practical meaning to the declaration of Independence and the vision of the founding fathers for the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These tenets have been central to the growth and development of the Union since 1776 and its transformation as a global leader,” he said.

For his part, US Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Nick Perry, said the countries’ partnership has been rewarding, and expressed the United States’ continued commitment to strengthening the cooperation between the nations.

“On behalf of the United States Mission to Jamaica, thank you for joining us as we celebrate the 246th anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America. As we celebrate America’s independence, we also celebrate 60 years of partnership between our two countries. Together we have promoted democracy, human rights, and shared security concerns,” he said.

Jamaica established diplomatic relations with the United States in 1962, following its independence from the United Kingdom.

The partnership focuses on reducing corruption; increasing transparency and good governance; fostering Jamaican participation in regional security efforts; strengthening basic education; and increasing energy resiliency.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US has provided more than US$16.4 million as well as donations of vaccines to assist Jamaica’s containment measures.

Additionally, over the last 12 months, the United States has collaborated with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to issue a record number of H2 visas, bringing critical, temporary labour to the US, while providing jobs for thousands of Jamaicans that resulted in millions of dollars in remittances.

Significantly, the Peace Corps, which is also celebrating 60 years of partnership with Jamaica this year, will resume its operations on the island beginning September, following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

 

Contact: Rochelle Williams

Release: JIS

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