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Governor and Premier make official visit to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas

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#TurksandCaicos, January 25, 2023 – On 4th to 8th December 2022, a delegation led by His Excellency the Governor, Nigel Dakin and the Premier, Honorable Charles W. Missick made an official visit to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.  The delegation also included officials from the National Security Secretariat, Police, TCI Regiment and the Office of the Premier.

(From Left to Right: Governor HE Nigel Dakin, Governor General of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Sir Cornelius A. Smith and Premier Hon. C. Washington Misick)

Day one of the three-day visit included meetings with: the Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Phillip Davis; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service, Hon. Frederick Mitchell; the Ministry of National Security, Hon. Wayne Monroe; the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Commodore Raymond King and the British High Commission.

The agenda for the second day involved a courtesy call with H.E. Governor General, Sir Cornelius Smith, followed by detailed meetings with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, led by its Commander, Dr Raymond King and the Royal Bahamas Police Force led by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Leamond Deleveaux. This included a tour of the Defence Force base at Coral Harbour.  The second day ended with a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Michael Pintard.

On the third day, the TCI delegation was hosted by the United States Embassy led by Mrs. Usha Pitts, Charge d’ Affaires, and the United States Coast Guard led by Captain Benjamin Golightly.  That evening a reception was held by the Charge d’ Affaires and, on the previous evening, a formal Dinner by the Governor General.

The focus of the visit was threefold – to say thank you to the Government of the Bahamas for their support over the last year – particularly the deployment of twenty-four Bahamian Police Officers to TCI and the operationalizing of the Bahamas/TCI Ship-Rider Agreement. TCI also noted and welcomed the decentralization of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force which brought naval assets closer to the TCI borders and opportunities to further fuse and co-ordinate our collective surveillance assets, including TCI being invited to provide Liaison Officers in the Bahamas Defense Force Command Centre to better fuse maritime intelligence.

Secondly, to brief on and discuss matters of shared National Security interests and threats. Thematic areas of mutual interest included: Operation Bahamas and Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) including the next OPBAT conference, scheduled for March 2023; maritime security (future ratification of jurisdictional boundaries between the TCI and Bahamas); expansion of coastal radar networks; decentralization of Defence Force naval assets; expanding the Bahamas/TCI Ship-Rider program; and sharing of resources, information and intelligence which will be aided by TCI’s new legal intercept provisions.

Additionally, through discussions with Bahamian colleagues, it was evident that TCI and the Bahamas face similar threats individually and collectively in the region including trans-national gangs, smuggling of people, illicit drugs and weapons and the continued destabilization of Haiti – which if left unchecked – could lead to a mass migration event that could have significant implications for the Lucayan Island chain (TCI and Bahamas).

(From Left to Right: HE Governor Nigel Dakin, Bahamas National Security Minister Hon. Wayne Munroe and Premier Hon. C. Washington Misick)

Thirdly, the delegation from TCI sought to explore areas to deepen and strengthen TCI’s friendship with the Bahamas – now and in the future. TCI advised of its intention to seek full membership of CARICOM – for which a letter of entrustment that allows for this negotiation has been provided by the United Kingdom.  Deliberations consisted of a request to extend the Bahamian Police contingent in TCI – since agreed – and strengthening the: National Security-to-National Security, Police-to-Police and Military–to-Military relationships including information sharing, improved collaboration and training.

Moreover, the unanimous resolve is to establish and strengthen a relationship between our national security functions on all matters of national security.  In this first instance, both countries will seek to learn from each other on two key common challenges: informal settlements and causes of crime.

Furthermore, the TCI offered the Royal Bahamas Defence Force an opportunity to host and deploy their naval assets in Grand Turk, to jointly task the aerial surveillance aircraft that is being procured by the United Kingdom, for TCI, and to share – in real time, TCI’s coastal radar network with the Maritime Operations Center in the Bahamas. This mutually beneficial arrangement will expand the Bahamian southern border of protection while allowing for increased coverage of TCI’s waters.

Also, the Premier, in communicating his intention to open an official TCIG office in Nassau in February 2023 had this to say:

“As part of the Turks and Caicos development goals it is important  to leverage the broad contribution that our kin and kind offer to the homeland. While we are reaching out to our global diaspora family it is generally believed that the largest proportion of Turks and Caicos Islanders live through-out the Bahamas: for that reason it is only fitting that we start by establishing an office there. The office will not have consular status but will with deference to the Governor’s office liaise with the British High Commission in Nassau where and when required to do so.

(Turks and Caicos Islands Government Delegation with the leadership of the Royal Bahamas Defense Force)

Additionally, the Bahamas is our closest neighbour. The people of our countries share similar cultures, close family ties and perform important roles in each other countries.  We also enjoy a high level of informal co-operation in many fields including security, medicine law and politics.  Additionally, we share leadership of several church and civic organisations. The Bahamas has been a friend to the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is only fitting that we formally recognise our friendship and a commitment to work closely together in our mutual interest. An office in the Nassau will help us to do just that. We also welcome the expressed intention of the Bahamas to establish a consular office in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

H.E Nigel Dakin said:

“The Bahamas could not have made us feel more welcome or valued. The regional and trans-national threats we face are too large for TCI to face alone. Indeed, because criminals and smugglers so easily cross borders, they are too large for the Bahamas, or even the US, to face alone. We are stronger together – and our individual security needs to be increasingly thought of in terms of our collective security.

We have worked diligently over recent years to strengthen OPBAT. We can feel the difference at sea, and the Bahamas support to our Policing effort has helped demonstrate that very clearly to our population on land. 

But there is so much more we can do together – particularly in the area of intelligence sharing, where TCI is developing, and will develop further strength, that our allies can draw on. While the threat won’t diminish, I’m confident our collective response will only now accelerate, and we can disrupt and arrest those that believe they can operate between and against our jurisdictions. I look forward to the OPBAT Conference in March to continue this engagement and I’m grateful that the Bahama’s have chosen to continue their Tactical Firearms Officer Support to us as we enter 2023”.  

 

Header: (From Left to right: Premier Hon. C. Washington Misick, HE Governor Nigel Dakin, Prime Minister Hon. Philip Brave Davis and Deputy Prime Minister Hon. E. Chester Cooper)

 

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The Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation on Visitor Arrivals

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

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#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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UB Statement: Portia M. Smith Building Under Assessment

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#The Bahamas, January 27, 2023 – In response to concerns expressed, University of The Bahamas released a notification on Thursday 26th January 2023 that effective immediately the Portia M. Smith Building at the Oakes Field Campus is closed until further notice as a precautionary measure.

Immediate steps have been taken to engage the Ministry of Environmental Health to conduct a thorough assessment of the building. In the interim, personnel assigned to Portia M. Smith have been instructed to work remotely to maintain the continuity of operations. A further communication will be issued once the assessment has been completed as we continue to provide timely updates.

Please be assured that the health, safety, and welfare of members of the University community and the general public are paramount and we are working with urgency to address this matter.

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