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Brighter Futures Center Grand Opening



#TurksandCaicos, January 24, 2023 – The Salvation Army Brighter Futures Community Center held its grand opening Saturday, January 24th.  The event brought together supporters, dignitaries, and the general public in a celebration of a brand-new facility dedicated to the development of youth in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“Tonight, we celebrate over ten years of fundraising, planning, and construction”, Salvation Army TCI Advisory Board Chairperson stated, “this facility will provide the children of our nation hope”.  Foss explained that he knew they could not raise the $2.6 million needed to purchase the land and construct the building by holding traditional fundraisers.  “We did not want to impact our regular fundraising which supports several programs such as the hot lunch program for at-risk students, textbook and school uniform initiatives, food insecurity assistance, the seniors’ transportation program in Middle Caicos, or any of the other good work that occurs regularly in our islands.  We focused on private donations, and even then, we were careful not to disrupt the funding of other local non-profits also doing great work”.

Foss explained that it took several years to get their first large donation.  A donation that gave them the confidence and hopes that they could eventually reach their goal, “the first major step toward the reality of what we were trying to do came when the Salvation Army Bahamas and the Salvation Army International organizations donated the funds to purchase the land, which we did immediately.  Before the land was purchased, I would go to people and ask them if they would donate to the facility and they would say, ‘where will it be built’? and I would have to say that I did not know yet.  People are generous by nature and they want to help good causes, but they also want to know that they are donating to something that is going to happen”.

Once the land was purchased and the site of the center was known, he states that things started to change when he approached possible donors, “now that we had a site, I could give my pitch with confidence and four years into the effort we received a $50 000 donation from Canadians Dale and Wendy Papke of Ports of Call.  That donation gave me hope.  While we managed several $5000 and $10 000 donations, we still had a long way to go until I met the David and Julie Brown family, also from Canada.  The Brown family loves the Turks and Caicos Islands and makes it their home many months of the year.  They also care about young people and want to provide as many opportunities as possible.  They were game changers with a total commitment of $750 000 toward the project.”

In his address to the crowd on Saturday night, Foss explained that it was not just money that was needed to get the project built, but expertise and assistance.  “Not only did the Brown Family offer critical financial support, but the entire family also including their son Kyle helped me produce a marketing plan and materials.  When you have like-minded caring people helping you do the heavy lifting, it becomes easier to move forward.  We found an amazing contractor in Phillip ‘Skintight’ Handfield to build the facility at cost.  Another huge step forward occurred when Mark and Anna Parrish offered their support.  Mark, owner of the quantity surveying firm Concept Plus agreed to project manage the construction process as a volunteer.  Anna donated all the stone and ceramic tiles along with most of the windows for the building”.

The volunteer Advisory Board Chair said momentum was on their side and they began building the facility before they had all the funding needed in place.  He stated, “we had momentum, and we didn’t want to lose it by waiting for all the money and we were confident once people could see the construction occurring, they would lend their support.  We started the build just before the pandemic and were cruising along with donations continuing to come forward.  However, during the pandemic, the cost of construction materials began to rise dramatically and suddenly we were going to be short approximately $200 000 to cover the increases.  I made an appeal to the members of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association (TCHTA) and within forty-eight hours we had raised the extra funds to complete the facility.  It was an incredible show of caring corporate citizenship”.

The building consists of the Salvation Army church, a large multi-purpose event center, an early childhood education classroom, and a commercial community kitchen to be used to supply hot lunches to at-risk students in government schools, counseling rooms, and the Salvation Army TCI administration offices.  Eventually, the facility will include a community garden and will become a certified hurricane shelter for the general public.

Foss said he and his wife Leslie, a volunteer responsible for all Salvation Army TCI fundraising events, are humbled by the opportunity to be involved and excited to see the building completed and in use.  Most importantly, Todd Foss let it be known that the theme of the building is Hope and that it will be home to other non-profits offering hope to the youth of Turks and Caicos, “since 2007 the Salvation Army TCI has done amazing work in our country, all without a permanent facility.  Not having a facility made things challenging.  We want other youth-based non-profit organizations to call the Brighter Futures Community Center home so they can expand their work.  We are excited to offer the use of the facility to Jr. Achievement TCI, the TCHTA Little Chefs program, the TCHTA Hospitality Program, The TCI Youth Parliament, the Police Youth Band, and others.  In addition, we look forward to joint partnerships with amazing organizations such as the Ed Garland Youth Center”.

As the facility began to rise, so did violent crime among the Island’s young population, making the Brighter Futures Community Center more important than ever.  Foss suggested that “too often I see people suggesting that troubled youth is a government problem to solve, or it is the parent’s fault, or I hear a lot of what is the Governor doing or why are the police not arresting all the bad people.  The truth is that at-risk youth is a complex issue with no easy solution, but whatever the solution it is up to all of us to be a part of it.  The Salvation Army TCI Brighter Futures Community Center’s purpose is to bring Hope to the youth of our country and Hope is the best tool to guide young people down a path towards a positive life”.

Sponsored by the Salvation Army Bahamas and the generous donations of Mr. Frank Crothers, the Salvation Army began work in Turks and Caicos in 2007.  In 2011, it became the 131st country to receive official country status within the organization.  Formed in 1865, the International Salvation Army operates in 133 countries and is the second-largest non-profit organization in the world.  It is an integral part of the Christian Church with objectives to advance the Christian religion while providing important humanitarian work in education, relief of poverty, and other charitable efforts benefiting society and the community of mankind as a whole.

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Bahamas News

The Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation on Visitor Arrivals



#TheBahamas, January 30, 2023 – The Ministry of Tourism is extremely excited to announce that visitor arrivals to The Bahamas eclipsed seven million in 2022, signaling a return to pre-pandemic tourism numbers.
In total 7,000,706 visitors came to The Bahamas in 2022.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation Chester Cooper praised The Bahamas’ performance and the work put in by industry professionals across the board.

“The fact that we have exceeded expectations and attracted more than 7 million visitors to our country in 2022, something only done once before in a single year was no accident,” he said.

“Countless stakeholders in the Bahamian tourism industry, including our international partners, worked tirelessly to achieve this. We sought to strengthen relationships to open new air routes. We sought to make travel to The Bahamas easier, more accessible, and affordable and took the message that we were open for business during our Missions and provided insight on our wonderful offerings to the world.”

DPM Cooper forecasted that 2023 promises to shatter even pre-pandemic numbers as interest in the Bahamas and our brand reputation have never been stronger.

“According to statistics the second half of 2022 outperformed the second half of 2019,” he said. In 2022, 1,470,244 visitors came to our shores by air; another 5,530,462 visitors arrived by sea.

Nassau and Grand Bahama remained our most popular destinations by air, while Nassau and The Berry Islands remained our most popular destinations by sea.  Foreign air and sea arrivals for 2022 were up by 233 percent over the same period in 2021 and just 3.4 percent shy of record arrivals in 2019.  December 2022 saw total arrivals eclipse 900,000 visitors, more than any month in our history.  Cruise arrivals in 2022 increased by nearly 400 percent over 2021 and were less than 1 percent below 2019 cruise arrivals.

Air and cruise arrivals monthly from July to December 2022 surpassed the corresponding month in 2019.
Occupancy rates for 2022 eclipsed occupancy rates for every corresponding month in 2021.

The average daily room rate in 2022 outperformed that category for every corresponding month in 2021. The Bahamas carved out new ground with more than 55 percent of first-time arrivals to The Bahamas, with increases in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

DPM Cooper confirmed that the last six months are the strongest The Bahamas has ever seen.  He firmly concluded by saying; “What the Ministry of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation are forecasting so far and what forward bookings indicate, is that we are on track to break records in 2023. We don’t see this slowing down anytime soon.”

Mrs. Latia Duncombe, Director General of Tourism added that everyone should understand that tourism is critical to our economy and all Bahamians, even those who do not directly work in the tourism industry, should always seek to lift the industry up.

“We are all in the tourism business in The Bahamas. And it’s a great business to be in. We want to keep our brand fresh and evergreen. And that’s everyone’s job, especially mine. I have a great, hardworking team at our ministry and we have some incredible things in store this year.”

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Bahamas News

GB’s tourism numbers have returned a significant 80 percent of pre-Dorian, pre-pandemic



#TheBahamas, January 30, 2023 – “The future for tourism looks great and the future for Grand Bahama looks phenomenal,” Minister of Tourism, Aviation and Investments, Chester Cooper told Tourism partners, during a special welcome reception at the Lighthouse Pointe Resort on Friday, January 27, 2023.

“We will continue to address the needs of tourism in Grand Bahama. We will continue to work on the airlift and we will continue to work on the overall capacity and marketing of Grand Bahama island.”
The Tourism Minister admonished tourism stakeholders and partners to do their part in creating more excitement for visitors about the island of Grand Bahama. Referring to a recent “report” in which visitors complained about not having enough things to do once they disembark a cruise ship in Nassau and Grand Bahama, Minister Cooper called on tourism partners to continue to create more tours and more things for visitors to engage in once their cruise ship docks at port.
Minister Cooper said that there is going to be a continued growth of tourism in Grand Bahama and asked all tourism partners to play their part.
“This year we project that 500,000 visitors will come by cruise…that’s more than 40,000 a month,” said Mr. Cooper. “But I have to tell you Grand Bahama that the people are not getting off the ship because they say there is nothing much to do.
“I call on you therefore, to create more things to do. Create more opportunities and get them off the ship. We can bring them year, but we cannot extract the monies from their pockets. We’re relying on you to do that. So, continue to create the opportunities. Tell the stories of the history and the charm of Grand Bahama island. Take them out east and out west and let them meet the true charm and the warmth of the Bahamian people, so they can feel our heart.He said he’s convinced that Grand Bahama island, with its infrastructure, charm and the depth of a good tourism product, has the greatest potential for growth of the other islands in The Bahamas.
Minister Cooper noted that as of now, the Ministry of Tourism in Grand Bahama has much to celebrate, even as new plans are being put in place to increase the tourism product on the island. He pointed out that statistics show that when they compare arrivals to Grand Bahama this year to what they saw last year, there has been a 350 percent increase.
“When we compare these numbers against pre-pandemic and pre-Dorian levels we can tell you that we have returned eighty percent and that the rebound year-over-year is one of the most significant rebounds that we have seen in any of the other islands of The Bahamas,” said Minister Cooper.
“Grand Bahama has seen a renovated domestic airport terminal; you’ve seen the return of Sunwing non-stop jet service; you will see more airlift very soon from Italy, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta; you will see new routes and increased air capacity. Work will begin at the Grand Bahama International Airport before March 31, 2023 and we will sell the Grand Lucayan Hotel. But I’m not making no announcements. Once bitten, twice shy. When the money’s in the bank, I will come back and tell you. That’s how we’re gonna do it this time.”
Mr. Cooper admitted that there’s still plenty of work to do to improve the tourism product in Grand Bahama, but assured that the Ministry’s leadership team is committed to doing the necessary work. He pointed out that tourism’s sales leadership team that was in Grand Bahama attending the event hailed not only from Nassau, but from the United States, Canada and Europe. This, he said, is not by chance, but rather a demonstration to the Ministry’s commitment to Grand Bahama Island and improving the tourism product.
“This team met in Nassau for the past few days, they’ve been mulling our strategy for the next few months and that means the future for Grand Bahama is moving forward.”
Minister for Grand Bahama, Ginger Moxey thanked the Grand Bahama Ministry of Tourism’s team for the work they’ve been doing in improving tourism on the island. She was thankful for the reception, which gave tourism officials and industry partners an opportunity to network and dialogue with the Minister of Tourism about Grand Bahama’s product.
“All of the entities represented here, have a vested interest in our island’s tourism product,” said Minister Moxey. “Your products and services are the framework and fabric of Grand Bahama’s tourism industry. Your contributions are significant and they greatly enhance our visitors’ experience.
“I believe that we all share a common goal and that is to see Grand Bahama become grand again. And by working together, we can achieve one of the key objectives of this Davis/Cooper Administration, which is to revitalize Grand Bahama’s tourism industry.”
Photo Captions:
Header: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Aviation and Investment, Chester Cooper (centre), Minister for Grand Bahama, Ginger Moxey (second from right), Senator James Turner (left) and Director General of Tourism, Latia Duncombe (right) pose for a photo with Captain Keith Culmer, during a reception for tourism industry partners on Friday, January 27, 2022 at Lighthouse Pointe Resort.
1st insert: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Aviation and Investment, Chester Cooper was the keynote speaker during a reception to welcome Grand Bahama tourism partners at Lighthouse Pointe Resort, on Friday, January 27, 2023.
2nd insert: Minister for Grand Bahama, Ginger Moxey talking with two of Grand Bahama’s tourism executives, during a reception for tourism partners at Lighthouse Pointe Resort on Friday, January 27, 2023.

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Caribbean News

Educational Aids Strengthen Learning Experience for Provo Students



PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands: Scores of students in Providenciales will benefit from back-to-school supplies donated by Sandals Foundation Ambassadors at Beaches Turks and Caicos resort, strengthening the instructional process in four schools at the start of the new school term.

More than 2,000 students from Ianthe Pratt, Enid Capron, Oseta Jolly and the Thelma Lightbourne Primary Schools were presented with a generous supply of educational materials including notebooks, pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, knapsacks, reading material, sports gear and musical instruments from members of the philanthropic arm of the family all-inclusive resort. While sharing the gratitude for the gifts received, the leaders at the various institutions lauded the efforts of the more than 20 volunteers on hand.

Neekimo King, Principal of the Ianthe Pratt Primary School shared, “Beaches Turks and Caicos and the Sandals Foundation over the years have adopted our institution as their own. These reading books will go a far way in increasing our library stock and improving literacy among the students while the physical education and the guidance counseling units have received lots of materials to bolster the learning experience for our students.”

Sophia Garland, Principal of the Enid Capron Primary School was equally elated as she expressed how beneficial resources will be for the teaching and learning process.

“These supplies, including the books, will definitely aid in increasing literacy amongst the students and the many teaching aids that we have been received will create an environment that is conducive for teaching and learning.”

In sharing with the schools, James McAnally, General Manager at Beaches resort noted, “Sandals Foundation and the resort remain committed to the development of the education of our children, the environment and the communities in which we operate. These four government operated primary schools were identified for these supplies to help in fostering their academic and extra-curricular growth.”

McAnally continued, “A big thank you to the Sandals Foundation Ambassadors who came out and helped with making these distributions possible.”

Vice principal of the Oseta Jolly Primary School, Diana Dean, also expressed gratitude noting, “With these tools, I am sure the students will be excited about learning and the teachers will be better equipped to deliver the lessons.”

The Sandals Foundation and Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort have long been supporters of education and community development in Turks and Caicos, donating to a number of schools and youth sports programmes. Since 2011, the organisations have been assisting students at Ianthe Pratt, Enid Capron Primary Schools and other schools across the islands in their holistic development by providing educational supplies and the opportunity for Sandals and Beaches resorts guests to meaningfully engage with the students through a weekly literacy enhancement programme, hosted in partnership with Island Routes Tours – Reading Road Trip.



Header: Staff and students from the Enid Capron Primary School share a moment for the cameras with members of the Sandals Foundation team as the school received educational items from the Beaches Turks and Caicos and the Sandals Foundation.

Insert: James McAnally, General Manager, Beaches Turks and Caicos (front left) makes a presentation to members of the Ianthe Pratt Primary School recently with sporting gear and educational items looking on are members of the Sandals Foundation team, Sesame Street Character

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