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Scientists Create First-Ever Guidelines to Help Caribbean Tourism Sector Conserve Coral Reefs

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#SANJUAN, Puerto Rico (June 21, 2022) – At a critical time for economies and the ocean, The Nature Conservancy, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association and the United Nations Environment Programme joined forces to create, for the first time in the Caribbean, a guide to coral reef restoration designed specifically for the tourism sector.
Healthy coral reefs are essential for the Caribbean tourism industry, which drives local economies and supports hundreds of thousands of livelihoods throughout the region. A Guide to Coral Reef Restoration for the Tourism Sector presents coral restoration best practices backed by scientific research, practitioner experience and stakeholder input. It addresses barriers that, up until now, have hindered the Caribbean tourism sector from substantively engaging in efforts to conserve the very marine environments that draw millions of visitors to the region each year. It also reveals key opportunities for the industry during a critical time – when developing sustainable tourism practices not only helps to reverse years of degradation of Caribbean reefs, but also helps tourism-dependent businesses to survive and prosper after the economic fallout of COVID-19.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), along with the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) – which CHTA founded in 1997 to assess the tourism industry’s readiness, needs and willingness to play a more proactive role in managing, protecting and improving coral reefs throughout the Caribbean – teamed up on the groundbreaking collaboration. The guide was developed following months of surveys and discussions with Caribbean tourism industry stakeholders.
“TNC, UNEP, CHTA and CAST developed these new guidelines because we recognized that the tourism sector has an excellent opportunity to amplify coral conservation,” says Ximena Escovar-Fadul, TNC’s Senior Associate, Ocean Planning and Mapping. “In response to the coral reef crisis, there has been a shift on the part of tourism businesses and consumers toward more sustainable travel options. Beyond this ‘do no harm’ mindset, there is an increasing interest in travel activities that can proactively help nature. For example, travelers want to know how they can offset their carbon emissions or take part in restoring the environments that bring them joy when visiting a destination, like coral reefs.”
Coral reefs support economic stability and human well-being across the globe, but the link between these ecosystems and communities is especially significant, and facing grave risk, in the Caribbean today. Half of all livelihoods in the region depend on marine resources. To create the tourism-centered coral restoration guide, it was fundamental to collect input from people whose businesses or income depend on healthy coral reefs. Interviews, surveys and focus groups were conducted with stakeholders across more than 20 Caribbean countries and territories, incorporating multiple tourism sub-sectors to capture a wide array of perspectives – including transportation and accommodations, food and beverage, ocean and beach recreation, and others.
“Coral reefs and the important ecosystem services they provide are critical for economies and communities throughout the wider Caribbean. They generate more than US$8 billion per year for the tourism industry, but they are under serious threat. It is estimated that over half of the live coral in the region has been lost in the last 50 years,” explains Ileana Lopez, Regional Coordinator – Biodiversity and Ecosystems, UNEP’s office for Latin America and the Caribbean. “The restoration of degraded coral reef ecosystems is only possible when political and financial support, scientific innovation and active participation of local stakeholders is combined.”
In recent years, TNC and its partners have pioneered research to reveal the important connection between tourism and our ocean resources – and to elevate the ways in which effective conservation can ensure this relationship is productive and sustainable into the future. A groundbreaking study led by TNC revealed that reef-associated tourism in the Caribbean generates US$8 billion per year – nearly 25% of all tourism expenditure – from over 11 million visitors. TNC’s Mapping Ocean Wealth project, which quantified the tourism value of the world’s reefs to mobilize investments in conservation, was recognized as a “world-changing tourism initiative” by winning the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Innovation Award. Building on this momentum, TNC and the CHTA forged a partnership to work with tourism leaders throughout the Caribbean in their efforts to ensure a healthy and thriving ocean.
“Our growing alliance with the tourism sector is key to our mission in the Caribbean,” says Dr. Rob Brumbaugh, Executive Director of TNC’s Caribbean Division. “Because tourism in the region depends on a thriving natural world, there is a strong economic incentive to support conservation. But, beyond that, one thing we learned when creating these new guidelines is that many tourism leaders simply want to ‘give back’ to nature and know that consumers do as well. So, the industry can be a powerful ally in our work and, in fact, has great capacity to accelerate coral conservation. Tourism businesses often have facilities near reef sites that can host restoration projects; nature enthusiasts on staff, like dive instructors, who can serve as ‘conservation ambassadors’; communications tools, like airport signage, that reach millions of people; and relationships with local governments and communities that can garner support for sustainable ocean use.”
CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig believes now is a particularly important time for tourism to play a vital role in ocean conservation. She explains, “Tourism in the Caribbean, and around the world, suffered a devastating downturn with the pandemic. But as the industry regains its footing, there is a key window of opportunity to attract a wider group of consumers and protect the resources tourism depends on by offering sustainable travel options and engaging in meaningful conservation. This is where guidance from our conservation partners becomes pivotal. Many tourism businesses are adopting a sustainable approach and would like to actively contribute to coral conservation, but they don’t have the technical expertise. Or they completed a pilot reef restoration project but lack the capacity to scale up the work. As we continue to share scientific research and best practices, and to address the conservation challenges facing the tourism sector, CHTA and CAST aim to transform travel in the Caribbean, so it not only exists in harmony with our natural world but also benefits it.”
CAST Chairman Jamaican hotelier Kyle Mais; CAST founding co-Chairman and Chairman of Grupo Puntacana in the Dominican Republic, Frank Rainieri; and Jake Kheel, Vice President of Fundación Grupo Puntacana, a nonprofit entity of Grupo Puntacana and regional pioneer in coral restoration, agreed that coral restoration is rapidly evolving and needs an “all hands on deck” approach to scale up the much-needed recovery of the Caribbean’s coral reefs. They support A Guide to Coral Reef Restoration for the Tourism Sector as a crucial tool that shares experiences and best practices to empower the tourism industry to participate more actively in reef conservation and expand the region’s ability to restore coral reefs.

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138 illegals add to the over 900 migrants captured by TCI Joint Forces

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FILE PHOTO

#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre and partners continue to work together to protect our borders and keep TCI secure.

During the evening of Wednesday 22nd June 2022 the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre identified a target of interest and immediately started to track the vessel around 5 miles North West of Providenciales travelling at around 7 knots.

The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and intercepted a vessel containing irregular migrants. Following a delicate, coordinated operation with the necessary stabilization of the vessel which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and the occupants were without life vests, the RTCIPF Marine Unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment to support the delicate operation.

The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants and then the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 4:45am with a total of 138 persons, 98 males and 40 female including 1 juvenile, who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department. One male needed immediate medical attention in relation to a leg injury sustained.

Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was desperately overcrowded, unsafe and risked the lives of those on board. It continues to demonstrate the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and Health to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos Islands safe.

In the last couple of months over 900 individuals on 9 dangerous and unseaworthy vessels have been intercepted here in the TCI.

I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call CrimeStoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477, not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

 

Caption: FILE PHOTO

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International joint forces seize $99 Million in Cocaine in Caribbean Sea

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

The US Coast Guard, and ships from the Netherlands made drug busts in the Caribbean Sea over the last few weeks resulting in a cumulative seizure of 5,237 pounds of cocaine.  The Coast Guard says the illegal narcotics which were offloaded at Base Miami Beach last Friday value $99 million.

The drugs were seized in the international waters of the Caribbean Sea by crews from: Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley, His Netherlands Majesty’s Ship Friesland, His Netherlands Majesty’s Ship Groningen.

Coast Guard Commanding officer of the Thetis, which transferred the drugs to the base in Miami, Justin Nadolny praised the partnership between themselves and the Netherlands which led to the massive seizure.

“Interdicting drug traffickers on the open ocean is challenging work and every interdiction is complex and unique,” he said. “This offload is a testament to the teamwork and devotion of every crew assigned to carry out this mission, and it showcases the strength of the valuable international partnerships united to combat transnational organized crime.  The fight against drug cartels in the Caribbean Sea requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in districts across the nation.”
The Turks and Caicos also have an agreement with the US Coast Guard signed in recent months which allows for tighter partnerships between the two countries (and the Bahamas) in the fight against illegal migration and drug trafficking in the county’s waters.

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Turks & Caicos Airline becomes first International flight at Ian Fleming in Jamaica

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Jamaica, June 25, 2022 – As the Turks and Caicos and Jamaica celebrated a new connection on June 16th as Intercaribbean Airways launched their newest flight to Boscobel, St Mary, half an hour from the famous city of Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s North Coast.

The Ian Fleming Airport is named for the famous author who penned the James Bond series just miles away from the airport. Never one to miss a theme, InterCaribbean dubbed their flight the JY 007.

The 007 departed Providenciales at 9:30 am Thursday (June 16) with Lyndon Gardiner, Chairman of InterCaribbean Airways; Trevor Sadler, InterCaribbean Airways CEO; Chris and Kayon Stokes of NCS Money Services; Team Beaches TCI, some media namely SunTCI and Magnetic Media as well as a few Jamaicans anxious to get home.

The 007, Ian Fleming Airport’s first international commercial flight, was received in Jamaica with much fanfare.  It was met by a Jamaican delegation including Audley Shaw, Minister of Transport for Jamaica and Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister and a cheerful water cannon spurt to sweeten the arrival of the first international flight at Ian Fleming.

Bartlett was enthusiastic about the prospects that Inter-Caribbean was bringing to Jamaica.

“The presence today of this inaugural flight from a Caribbean island into Boscobel is a bigger statement than what has been made because what it does is to put together the idea of connectivity in a material way. It is how we as a region are going to be able to connect with each other in a way that brings economic value and prosperity to each other and that’s the power of this movement that begins today.”

The minister noted that Tourism was a booming business if only we were aware of how to take charge of it.

“We are about ideas and how to convert ideas into things that have a material value, we are the most consumption-driven activity on planet earth. “ he added “the next critical consideration that has to be looked at …is that we need a single visa regime for touristic purposes that can be provided for visitors coming into your space… a CARICOM visa that allows you entry into all the CARICOM countries.”

Gardiner expressed his excitement for the venture telling the media,“Only the sun covers the Caribbean better than we do.” He also told the gathered press. “We will now have the ability to bring people from across the Caribbean, whether it be for business, pleasure, or furthering multi-destination vacations, by offering Boscobel residents and visitors direct service across the Caribbean and vice versa.”

InterCaribbean Airways will run their flight monthly initially and then upgrade to weekly flights. It would be the third flight between Turks and Caicos and Jamaica; already Kingston and Montego Bay are serviced by the airline based in Providenciales, TCI.

American Airlines and QCAS Aero are also scheduled to begin flights to the Ian Fleming International this year.

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