By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, January 24, 2023 – In the midst of an immigration crisis, after a year of extremely high inflation; the crown land ordinance finally being reviewed; the worst outbreak of violence in recent history; free college education for students, a favourable Crown Land Review and tougher crime legislation passed, Premier Washington Misick will give the State of the State Address on Monday February 27th and he says ‘big ticket’ items are on the table.
The State of the State, which mimics the US style of an annual report from the country’s top-elected official will come two years and a few days after the anniversary of a 14 to 1 landslide victory for the Progressive National Party in 2021.
The announcement of the coming report was made over the weekend of January 20th via Facebook. Last year during the anniversary address, even as the Premier was speaking a spate of violent crimes were erupting in TCI; tourism and real estate sales were robust, Russia was raining down terror on Ukraine in an incursion which precipitated food shortages and record global inflation.
All factors which would impact the trajectory of the Washington Misick-led administration.
Residents are anticipating plans for the New Year as well as answers on the issues which were well articulated in a late year string of town hall meetings; among the concerns:
- National Brain drain as Turks and Caicos continues to loose talent to other countries
- Gang violence and crime
- Illegal migration and workforce disparities
- Crown land complexities and housing shortages
- Record high inflation
- Covid-19 and other health matters and much more.
In a press conference on January 16th, the premier indicated that his government team was aiming to fully use the Budget to create as many opportunities as possible and he would speak to those opportunities in the state address.
“There are some other exciting programs that we are working on, as we come towards the end of the financial year we want to be able to maximize the impact of those programs– we are working to be able to make some major announcements that will improve lives, enhance the economy and the future of Turks and Caicos Islanders.”
He maintained there were several big ticket items and projects being completed and promised to speak to these, as well, in his February address.
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.”
“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.”
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.
PRESS STATEMENT: MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
#TurksandCaicos, January 27, 2023 – The Ministry responsible for Education confirms that a recent report of alleged sexual abuse was brought to the attention of authorities at a particular school. For the protection of the child, we will not divulge details of this matter. We do acknowledge that there were issues experienced which resulted in less than appropriate response to the incident.
The Ministry is continuing its investigation of the incident, in its totality and has since requested a comprehensive report on the response from all involved. Several meetings, visits and discussions were held. The key is to ensure that the minor involved is afforded additional counselling and care and that other students within the institution are also afforded the relevant support needed. The Student Support Services has been active in coordinating this response which is currently in operation.
As an immediate further action, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) entities will convene and existing protocols will be reviewed and investigations conducted to determine the consistency of the response, exactly where the established protocols were not followed and the subsequent actions to be taken.
The Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Social Services considers its responsibility for the Safeguarding of children of utmost importance. In so doing, the Ministry of Education has instituted a number of measures over the years to ensure that allegations of abuse to children in schools are treated with urgency. The creation of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) was created to ensure that teachers, leaders, Social Workers, and Police can respond to allegations with the child’s safety and protection as the core consideration. Child safeguarding remains the Ministry’s primary concern.
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