Salt Cay, the forgotten paradise
#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2023 – The often-overlooked island of Salt Cay located in Turks and Caicos Islands, is definitely one not to be missed while planning your next getaway.
In those mundane or difficult moments; and your looking to unwind and soak in the sun, this is the island of your dreams. One can literally transport themselves back in time and enjoy the glistening, turquoise waters that surround this tiny island called Salt Cay.
Many readers including myself, enjoy articles from the “Spot light on Salt Cay” by Candy Herwin, weekly photos of the Salt Cay ferry to and from the island, Destination Salt Cay by my good friend, journalist Titus De Boer who also covers a wide range of topics.
Their excerpts capture different points of view and give you a glimpse of life on the island, its history, challenges and the attempts to keep hope alive.
Granted, on a few occasions I visited the island, this time it was different. After taking my family on a day trip to the island a few months ago, I was still amazed by the welcoming and positive attitude of the people, yet disheartening because of the lack of opportunity for the handful of residents still clinging unto their customs and traditions.
The visit brought back so many fond memories of my childhood growing up in Middle Caicos. What’s so striking about Salt Cay is the quaintness, genuine hospitality and pure natural beauty that draws visitors in.
Apart from the tranquility, it’s also one of the few long-standing cluster of inhabited sister islands that can proudly say they have had zero reported heinous crimes. Despite all the challenges, the island still remains pure and breathtakingly beautiful.
For a moment, I thought to myself, with the Capital only 7 miles away, why is it taking so long to integrate such a charm of an island? I believe the answer is quite obvious, it’s the lack of investment due in part to limited transportation to and from the island.
Over the years, this has forced many of the residents to relocate to Grand Turk and elsewhere to find work.
From my understanding, the government is currently subsidizing one of the local airlines to provide 3 flights a week and the local ferry boat 3 times a week to the island.
This is wonderful; however, given the limited available resources on the island, what the government failed to realize is, apart from whale watching, great fishing sites, spectacular beaches, there is not much to do on the island in terms of activities that will attract the majority of visitors for any sustained length of time.
Instead, what appears to be happening is little by little, the island is being sold out to the highest foreign bidder and elites who can afford to make it their second home.
Before all of the affordable real estate is gone, government should seriously look at other alternatives to assist residents who would love to remain on this particular island, but it’s not financially feasible to do so.
For the benefit of the next generation, we should avoid selling out the interests of this island for the sake of perceived economic stability for some. Why not put more effort into energizing the tourism sector in this gem of an island? It’s not that difficult and we are not expecting overnight success.
As a prime example, let’s take a look at the island of North Caicos. The airport there has been decommissioned for years, but the convenience of having daily ferry services to and from the island of Providenciales, has dramatically boosted tourism which is now spilling over into Middle Caicos.
Residents there have the option of either living or working between the two islands. This could very well be the playbook for Salt Cay.
With so many of the residents in Grand Turk having roots in Salt Cay, I would imagine some long for that day to come when they will be afforded the opportunity currently available to the residents of North Caicos, Middle Caicos and Provo.
With the hustle and bustle lifestyle in Providenciales to include the uptick in crime, this particular island like a few others will become more attractive to tourists. With that being said, how do we make the tourism product more attractive in Salt Cay?
Perhaps, a starting point could be providing more convenient transportation services to and from the island to help support the infrastructure development.
A cost-benefit analysis should also be done to determine whether it would be more advantageous to temporarily reduce the number of flights to the island and increase subsidies for daily ferry operations.
It could result in a twofold benefit. One, it forces tourists to fly to Grand Turk giving a boost to that economy and then having the option of taking a day trip to the island of Salt Cay for self discovery.
Secondly, cruise ship passengers and locals alike will have an opportunity to leave in the morning and return in the evening. This will open new doors for development on the island. Perhaps, a frequent travelers discount card can also be applied. In addition, various cultural activities can be planned to attract visitors and locals alike.
In my opinion, it would also be prudent for the government to identify certain real estate on the island that should be protected and or preserved. This could include but not limited to government buy back of land if need be. It will help to avoid a total sell off or depletion of prime property that the country will later regret.
From a recently published Crown land review consultant paper 2022, it showed that the Turks and Caicos Islands as a whole, is facing a serious Crown land crisis with only 23% of usable Crown land remaining.
Albeit, there appears to be a breakthrough from the long-awaited review of the management of Crown Land in the Turks and Caicos Islands. What would be beneficial to citizens is a follow up town hall style meeting to provide a debriefing on the nuts and bolts of the findings and recommendations.
I truly believe that in due course, the increased government subsidies towards the transportation sector on this island will be money well spent. The end result is happier residents and more opportunities to showcase this coveted destination to potential investors and local entrepreneurs.
Concerned citizen of Grand Turk
Millions to come from FSC
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – Revenue from the Turks and Caicos’ Financial Services Sector will more than double in the next few years, if E Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister gets his way. It ‘s one of the reasons the country is investing so much capital into getting off of the EU blacklist and becoming a secure trustworthy financial destination.
“The FSC’s revenues for 2020/21 was $10.5M— the figures for 2021/22, would be about similar,” he said. He further explained that $10.5 million from the FSC represented about 2.6 percent of the country’s 408.5-million-dollar revenue. Though it increased to $14 million in the 2021/22 financial year, finance is still a small fry compared to tourism or even stamp duties but that will change, says Saunders.
“My revenue goal for the Government by the year 2029 [or] the election after the next election – is $500M. By that time, I want the financial sector (FSC) revenues to represent at least 5% ($25M). So that’s my goal for the financial sector by 2029.”
This goal, should it be met, would increase the Government’s revenue by 100 million dollars, a significant increase in spending power for local upgrades and improvements for Turks and Caicos residents and visitors.
Saunders says it’s time for the TCI to diversify its sources of revenue to make sure that what happened in the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw residents out of a job for months, will not happen again. Tourism now makes up around 80 percent of the country’s GDP. The Minister of Finance wants to push that down to 60 or even 50 percent.
Debrief on Haiti Caribbean heads visit
#Haiti, March 17, 2023 – When a CARICOM delegation visited Haiti earlier this month, conspicuously absent was the Turks and Caicos Islands despite being one of the nations most directly affected by the multi-dimensional crisis there. There is no comment, as yet from the Premier, to say why this was the case.
Still, from the expedition, CARICOM heads of Government have informed that there will be lobbying in Africa for assistance in Haiti. They say they have decided that the best course of action for the Caribbean country is to bolster the Haitian National Police and act as intermediaries with Africa and the world. The decision follows a one day visit on February 27th, and a March 5th meeting chaired by the Bahamas.
CARICOM says during the trip delegates ‘met with a broad range of Haitian stakeholders to hear their views on the way forward to a Haitian-led solution’. With that in mind it has made a decision on how to proceed.
“The Heads of Government agreed to support the Haitian National Police in their efforts to address the security situation. The focus of the Community will be the provision of training for the HNP and the provision of humanitarian assistance to HNP and the wider Haitian society, taking into account the challenging humanitarian and security situation”
It’s not clear yet where and how this training will take place. Also distinctly absent from the report, no more mention of boots on the ground from other countries despite CARICOM Member States indicating they were ready and willing should it come to that.
In addition, recognizing ‘the common historical experiences and the strong African-Caribbean relationship’ CARICOM says,
“Heads of Government also agreed to seek support from African countries for Haiti. They also agreed to work with the Governments of Canada and the United States as well as the UNDP”
Magnetic Media has reached out to the Premier’s Office to get a full debrief of the February 27th visit (led by Jamaica; including The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago) to learn of Turks and Caicos’ posture following the critical sessions.
New ASHLEY’S LEARNING CENTRE CONCERT
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – Musicians from the New World Symphony will be in the Turks and Caicos in concert next month and residents are invited to attend in support of the future of Ashley’s Learning Center.
A fairly young orchestral academy based in Miami, the New World Symphony was launched in the 1980s by 1987, Michael Tilson Thomas and Ted Arison,Carnival Cruises founder. From the 1500 applicants who vie for a spot each year, the symphony accepts around 35 music graduates annually for training fellowships.
A select few of those graduates will be in country on April 8th headlining at the Ashley’s Learning Center concert ‘We’re all in this together’. The concert which also feature local artistes will be held at Brayton Hall on Venetian Road from 6 pm to 8:30 pm
Tickets are available ON ISLEHELP $75 PER GENERAL SEAT $125 PER PREMIUM SEAT $195 PER GALLERY SEAT – with /FREFRESHMENTS.
For TICKET RESERVATIONs you can call: 649-341-2304 or email EVENTS@ASHLEYSLEARNINGCENTER.ORG
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