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Burgers, Peacocks & Surpluses

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

#TurksandCaicos, May 11, 2022 – Yesterday, I was seated in a room of thirty travel agents, one of the companies is among the top five in the world for vacation bookings, and it was a rousing reminder that these are the individuals who are making direct contact with the 1.5 million (plus) travellers who are choosing Turks and Caicos for their Caribbean holidays.

The men and women who sensibly lapped up the loving attention from Team Beaches Resort, were being personally thanked by Gary Sadler, 37-year executive and Vice President of Unique Vacations, a subsidiary of Sandals Resorts International.  It was Global Travel Advisor Day and it meant much to be in the room during a season when travel and tourism have roared back to life following a life-sucking pandemic period.

The individuals, I learned are directly responsible for keeping Beaches Resort Villages & Spa, which accounts for over 70 per cent of long stay visitors to the British overseas territory at well over 90 per cent full for at least the past ten weeks.

It again hit me in the gut; essentially the undeniable popularity of the Turks and Caicos Islands has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the people that want to come, the people who book their holidays and the people who work at the properties where these guests stay and play.

It’s a people thing.

In my 14 years here as a working journalist, I have not yet met a Travel Agent who told me that when a guest sought them out for a Turks and Caicos Islands vacation, they enquired on whether the Progressive National Party or the People’s Democratic Movement were in governing power.

Instead, it’s what they’ve seen on social or traditional media, you know those jaw dropping vistas fabulously framed by luxury resorts; hues of blues and turquoise in our dynamic slice of the Atlantic Ocean and the pristine wonders endemic to the Turks and Caicos which have lured them here.  For most islanders, that remarkable beauty is attributed to no political party, it is a credit laid solely at the feet of a very good, masterfully creative heavenly God.

Bottom line, no matter who was the vote leader in the February 2021 General Election, this tourism revival would have belonged to the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Underpinning my observation as a point of fact and not of fiction is the ongoing National Budget Debate.  The general public is subject to a concerning and revealing peacock parade in the House of Assembly.

On the one side, there is the elected government administration – the PNP – which is happily patting itself on the back for the economic buoyancy in the Turks and Caicos.  Sharing a lot of strides it counts as its own, but which are largely linked to foreign owned companies, professionals or interests in tourism and real estate – who do their own marketing and managing.

On the other side, there is the elected opposition which is happily unimpressed by the fiscal plan laid in parliament; a plan it says remains out of synch with the souls of the people because the average person is still hard pressed to ‘feel’ the financial boom.

The twist? Both political sides are right.  If I had a $20 million dollar surplus and boosted the budget by $78 million dollars; I would brag my butt off too.

If I reviewed this Budget and noticed that savings were swelling while people were hurting and public sector pay increases and tax breaks were a mirage, I would also blast it to pieces.

So the country, at least the electorate is saddled with the reality that we could be simply flipping a burger.  So what happens when both sides are well done?

Do we eat and then… well you know.  Or do we keep flipping until the meat patty is so badly burned, that it is unfit for consumption?

Last year, when the former Sharlene-Robinson led administration was shown or at the very least appeared to be prepared to allow over $12M in stimulus money to go back to the piggy bank, the new Government cried shame and did swift work to more easily and equitably distribute the resources.  This year, the same PNP Government who cried foul had the audacity to announce that $20M would be returned to the piggy bank when life on the planet has never been so expensive and people are struggling.

Now, another banner year for tourism and real estate is predicted.  The country’s economic rating is poised for an upgrade and cash reserves will be healthy.  All refreshing, heartening news.

But can a political party take the credit for the robust economy?  And is there a political party truly prepared to ensure that there is no blockage when it comes to the overflow of prosperity?

Only time will tell.  But God knows, we’re on the third flip (since the end of UK Direct Rule) and I am tired of eating surpluses… ah, I mean; hamburgers.

Bahamas News

Caribbean Rising: Regional Heads of Government Meet in The Bahamas Aug 16-17 to discuss Caribbean position on Climate Change Mitigation

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#TheBahamas, August 5, 2022 – The Bahamas will host the first Regional Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean in preparation for COP27 in Nassau, The Bahamas on August 16-17, 2022.

The inaugural event is being introduced by the Government of The Bahamas with the aim of devising a regional position on climate change mitigation ahead of COP 27 which will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt November 6-20, 2022.

Invited participants include the Head of State from the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla,

Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.

The Government of The Bahamas intends to establish the meeting as an annual event and will seek to have it instituted as a regular meeting on calendar of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC).

“The Bahamas is introducing this conference as we seek to get results in the climate change fight,” Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas said ahead of the talks.

“The Bahamas, along with the region, has lobbied year after year, meeting after meeting, as we sought for the world to acknowledge our vulnerable position.”

“This meeting will position the Caribbean region to take control of our fate and present a unified position to the world at COP27,” Prime Minister Davis added.

The meeting is also intended to establish a Caribbean response exclusive of the conventional Latin

America-Caribbean pairing in order to better reflect common geographical and geo-political issues of Caribbean states.

“What we’ve been lacking regionally is a strategy that would aid us in our negotiation process when we go to the conferences of the parties referred to as COPs,” says Rochelle Newbold, Special Advisor on Climate Change and Environmental Matters and Climate Tsar in the Office of the Prime Minister in The Bahamas.

“This year will be COP number 27 and, as a region, we have never put forward a strategy document or an intent of how we want to deal with the issues that we face within the region collectively,” Newbold added.

The conference agenda will also focus on renewable energy, energy security, climate adaptation, climate financing, loss and damage due to tropical weather systems and establishing a framework for the sale of carbon credits.

Delegates attending COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland in December 2021 signed off on a global climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and counter global warming by limiting the temperature rise on Earth to a 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold.

The global warming phenomenon has been linked to more frequent and aggressive hurricanes in the Caribbean, which have subjected the region to billions of dollars in damage and bound countries to burdensome loan commitments.

According to the Assessment of the Effects and Impacts of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas report issued by the Inter-American Development Bank in March 2022,       damage and losses from Hurricane Dorian amounted to US$3.4 billion, a quarter of the country’s GDP.

A heat wave rolling across the United States and Europe is also being attributed to rising temperatures.

The UK recorded temperatures of over 40°C (104°F) for the first time in July 2022, according to local forecasters.

“We know that if we reach that 1.5°C and we exceed it, everything changes for everybody. While land-locked countries and large continents like South America will experience a change, island-states will experience that change three and four-fold.”

“With this meeting we will have all of those who face the same threat level sitting down together, discussing options, considering what is being suggested and how realistic this will be. For us, this is a fundamental thing that we should have been doing a long time ago,” Newbold said.

At the conclusion of the meeting, a Chair’s Summary will be made available detailing the scope of the discussions as well as key messages and ideas that emerge. Additionally, the region plans to launch an initiative at COP27 to advance advocacy efforts on behalf of Caribbean States.

 

Photo Caption: During the weekly Press Briefing, at his Office, on August 4, 2022, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis announced that The Bahamas will host the Regional Caribbean Heads of Government Meeting, 16-17 August, 2022 at Baha Mar Resort.  (BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

 

For Press Inquiries:

Clint Watson, Press Secretary

Office of The Prime Minister

Commonwealth of The Bahamas clintwatson@bahamas.gov.bs

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Bahamas News

Polio is back; 65 million missed shots in another COVID fall out

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, August 4, 2022 – For the first time in almost a decade a new case of polio was recorded in the United States. The case which ended in paralysis emphasizes the danger the region faces as vaccination levels drop to 30-year lows.

The World Health Organization warned in early July explained that vaccination in the region of the Americas and the rest of world was dropping rapidly because of various spin off effects precipitated by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Over 65 million infants missed out on basic vaccines in the last three years thanks to disruptions in routine healthcare, lockdowns and other circumstances. The effects are already being felt as once eradicated disease like measles and polio are once again emerging.

The Pan American Health Organization announced earlier this year the Americas are now facing another measles outbreak after having been declared free of the disease in 2016.

Dr. Jarvis Barbosa, Assistant director of PAHO said vaccination levels are now as low as they were in 1994 for measles and polio and Brazil has had several outbreaks of measles.

In the case of the United States an unvaccinated young adult developed the disease after contact with another individual vaccinated with a live version of the vaccine.

The breakout polio case in the US sent shockwaves across the country because of the severe nature of the disease. Polio is an extremely dangerous disease with no known cure. It causes paralysis in as many as 1 in 200 infected and that paralysis is permanent.

Normally very few school age children would be at risk in the Americas as the vaccine is required to start school but with the gap in vaccinations many more children are now at risk.

Polio was one of the most feared diseases of the 20th century, paralyzing and killing hundreds of thousands, especially children. Thankfully vaccinated individuals are not at risk and as such the WHO is advising that the best way to protect against polio is vaccination.

 

Photo Caption:  Child in Benin takes Polio vaccine, UNSDG

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Caribbean News

Dunn’s River Offers Special Summer Package

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#Jamaica, August 5, 2022 – Persons looking for an adventurous activity to do this summer are being encouraged to take advantage of the ‘Summa Thrills’ promotion, being offered by the world-famous Dunn’s River Falls and Park.

The promotion, which ends September 15, includes paying one cost to climb the Falls, ‘Tek-A-Hike’ and Zip over the Falls via the Chukka Falls Flyer. In addition, persons will also have access to the beach, splash pad, and other amenities.

The cost for residents is $5,000 per person and US$75 per person for non-residents. A photo identification is required to access the resident rate.

“We have partnered with CHUKKA to create this five-star experience,” Marketing Manager, Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Kereen Cole-Ivey, told JIS News.

She further informed that ‘Tek-A-Hike’ is the newest product offering at Dunn’s River Falls and Park and that the promotion provides an opportunity to build awareness and renew interest in the falls and park.

‘Tek-a-Hike’ is a guided, one-hour-and-a-half hike that starts at the Tranquility Gardens and ends in the Dunn’s River Falls & Park Nursery. Here guests can purchase plants or adopt a tree as part of the park’s Reforestation and Conservation Programme.

The hike is approximately two miles and is an experience that the entire family can enjoy. Along the trail, guests will learn about the flora and fauna on the entire property, which is called the Belmont property, as well as the general history of Dunn’s River Falls and Park. They will also get a chance to visit the Belmont Great House ruins.

“Coming out of COVID-19, we thought that this (Summa Thrills) would have been a very great adventure for the family and for everyone to enjoy and have a good time,” said Mrs. Cole-Ivey, adding that the UDC has other plans in place for Dunn’s River.

Dunn’s River Falls and Park is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Persons are being encouraged to book ahead via the Dunn’s River website at www.dunnsriverfallsja.com, otherwise tickets can be purchased on location.

You may also visit @dunnsriver.jamaica and @udcjamaica on Instagram or call 876 618-6052 for additional information.

The Dunn’s River Falls and Park is managed and operated by St. Ann Development Corporation (SADCO), a subsidiary of the UDC.

 

Contact: Shanna K. Salmon

Release: JIS

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