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US Coast Guard rescues 55 migrants near Puerto Rico; activity in Mona Passage high

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

 

#USA, January 25, 2023 – The US Coast Guard is again warning migrants against illegal voyages by sea as 55 migrants were rescued on Thursday, January 19, after being abandoned and stranded by smugglers on an uninhabited natural reserve of Monito Island in Puerto Rico.

US Coast Guard said the survivors consisted of forty-five (45) men and nine (9) women claiming Haitian nationality, and one man who claimed to be a Cuban national.  All 55 migrants were transferred to Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

The rescue involved efforts and coordination with Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) partner agencies.

According to the  US Coast Guard, watch standers in San Juan, Puerto Rico, received a communication from the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 aircraft during a maritime patrol in the Mona Passage Monday night of a group of people stranded on the rocky cliffs of Monito Island located just off Mona Island, Puerto Rico. 

“Heavy sea-state conditions of six-to-eight-foot seas and the difficulty of accessing the ocean cliffs prevented rescue efforts from taking place until Thursday morning.   Once sea-state and wind conditions improved, the cutter Heriberto Hernandez’s Over the Horizon boat safely approached Monito Island,” the agency explained in a press release.

“The Coast Guard crew provided lifejackets to the group before each migrant took their turns jumping into the water while holding onto a heaving line that was used by the crew to recover them from the water.”

Commander of Coast Guard Sector for San Juan, Captain José E. Díaz, while commenting on the danger of these voyages, urged those thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage across the Mona Passage not to do so by sea.

“The dangers of illegal voyages in the Mona Passage are exponentially increased when smugglers leave their passengers abandoned for days in austere and dangerous environments like Monito Island,” Díaz said.

Adding that: “Most do not realize the danger they are in until it is too late, as these voyages often take place aboard makeshift and grossly overloaded vessels with no lifesaving equipment. If you are thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage across the Mona Passage, do not take to the sea! It may save your life or the life of your loved ones!”

Since October 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022, the Coast Guard has carried out 14 interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico of illegal voyagers.

The US Coast Guard noted that 419 non-U.S. citizens, including 327 Dominicans, 91 Haitians and one unknown nationality, were interdicted during this period.

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Caribbean News

BTC Water Sports Department Celebrates with staff

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PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands: In a show of appreciation for outstanding service over the past year, particularly with the addition of new offerings following the expansion of the Beaches Turks & Caicos waterpark, the resort management recently held a commemorative function for its dedicated watersports team.

The function, which took the form of a special luncheon in the resort’s lavish ballroom, was spearheaded by the resort’s leadership including General Manager, James McAnally and WaterSports Manager, Mark Henley.

General Manager, James McAnally, (right) presents Nicorge Edward from St Lucia with a token of appreciation at the recently held awards ceremony

McAnally thanked the team  for their unwavering efforts in providing stellar service over the past year and reminded them  “The resort recently received recognition from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) for more than 25 years of certification which means that you as our valued team members, have been providing world-class watersports experience for our guests.”

“Among you, there are three team members who have been recognized for over 60 years of diving experience, combined. As a team, you have all continued to give nothing but outstanding service as you provide amazing experiences for our guests every day.  This is just one way for us to let you know that we see you, and we appreciate you.  Thank you all for your continued support as we remain committed to not only exceeding our guests’ expectations but to also elevate our brand offerings and positioning as the best place to work in the Turks & Caicos Islands,” said McAnally.

For his part, Henley stated, “each of you here today has shown tremendous will and determination to make this resort the best family resort on the Islands. For the three men who have each given more than 21 years of service each, I encourage you to continue to show the way forward to those who are not as experienced in this field. Let us continue to grow as a team, having fun as we work hard together.  We believe that, together everyone achieves more.”

Evanz Inelus, Pool and Waterpark supervisor while sharing his commendation for the team noted, “we are forever a team in this department and the resort in general. As we continue to grow in our professional life, let us look forward to the new year with getting more certifications from the Sandals Corporate University (SCU). Beaches Turks and Caicos has made it possible for us to grow professionally in what we love in this department by allowing us to be certified while we are doing what we enjoy in the water sports department.”

Mamrio Pierre (right) accepts his certification of recognition from Mackenson Petit from the Learning and Development department

Three members of the team were given special recognition for their years of service to the resort; Jacquelin Pierre, Marion Pierre and Charitable Sertune August. Marion Pierre, while sharing his gratitude for the recognition added, “Beaches Turks and Caicos is the best place for anyone to start their career. My team and I are very grateful for this award as the resort continues to build us into becoming the best professionals that we can be. The training and exposure provided, allow us opportunities at other Sandals and Beaches resorts across the Caribbean and to get certification from some of the most recognised institutions in the world. Working with this company has given me and my family the opportunity to live a prosperous and comfortable life.”

Two team members, Jed Arkim Reggie and Nicorge Edward, from Sandals La Toc, St Lucia who were on training and experiencing the resort, were recognised for their contribution to the department. Edward stated, “what I love most about this company is the opportunity to gain professional experience in different cultures and regions. My colleague and I came here to gain valuable leadership experience while learning more about the daily operational duties of the watersports department at this, the largest and most equipped resort. We are grateful for the exposure and look forward to going back home to share the best practices we have learned.”

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Bahamas News

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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Bahamas News

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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