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Opposition Leader:  Dismantle of Tourist Board by Uncaring PNP Government

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#TurksandCaicos, February 6, 2023 – Voters of all stripes in the Turks and Caicos Islands are now in fear of recession, inflation, crime, and rising costs, and they see a PNP government not doing anywhere near enough to help, and is doing everything to worsen the condition of most of our people. I call out the fact that what those folks say they are not going to do, they almost always do.

We are now seeing the discharge of the current Tourist Board; the staff is being laid off. Staff which they, the current PNP Government, said last year, during the 2022 Government Budget Debates and on other forums, was not going to happen.

The Hon. Premier and his Team claim that this is a “restructure”, of the Tourist Board, but we all know “demolition” when we see it.

It is now very alarming that an elected government, that won all but one electoral seat, could be so uncaring, and unsympathetic to their own people who put them in office, and that they can be so disrespectful and insensitive to such a cornerstone organization as the Tourist Board, which has been in existence since the early ’70s.

This current PNP Government, led by Premier Misick and his Cabinet Ministers, has demonstrated an apathetic and uncaring attitude towards our people, the workers of the Tourist Board as it relates to their current and future employment status. Additionally, they are saying that the staff was given the chance to apply to the DMO for employment, but we know how that always plays out; we have seen this play out many times before, where persons are asked to apply only to say that Turks & Caicos Islanders were interviewed, and with no intention of hiring them. As the government did with the Airport fireman, all the existing staff should simply be reassigned to the DMO.

I must remind the Hon. Premier and his team of elected officials that this is the same tourist Board that has been instrumental in seeing our Tourism numbers grow to the high levels that we are currently experiencing.

I must remind the Premier and His Ministers that this is the same tourist board that received the honor of being awarded Island Destination’s 2019 Ultimate Partner.

I must remind this PNP Administration that this is the same Tourist Board whose director won Caribbean Tourism Director of the Year, won by Pamela Ewing – During one of the most challenging years in Caribbean tourism history. And I remind them that it was said that “Director of Tourism, Pamela Ewing, expertly led the Turks and Caicos Islands to historic levels of performance – solidifying the destination as one of the Caribbean’s most desired countries, while keeping the safety of both visitors and locals at the forefront.”

I must remind this PNP Administration that this is the same Tourist Board and its staff that was instrumental in positioning the Turks & Caicos Islands to receive an impressive eight nominations and a winner of two awards – Caribbean’s Leading Beach Destination and Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination, at The World Travel Awards, Caribbean & The Americas Gala Ceremony in Montego Bay, Jamaica on August 31, last year.

I am in full agreement with those who see this dismantling and shutdown of the Tourist Board by the current PNP Government as a wrong move for our country, our tourism industry, our local people and our employees of the Board. In particular, I align myself with the comments and commentary of the former Minister of Tourism, Hon. R. Higgs, and former management staff member Mrs. Pauline Saunders.

In my response to the Premier’s and his government’s Budget on May 4, 2022, in addressing the funding being allocated for the setting up of a Destination Management Organization, I stated that “Instead of spending these millions of dollars on developing this new body, we should have been spending it on product enhancement in all our Islands. Don’t just follow the trend. You have to figure out if something really makes sense, or if it is just what everyone else is doing. Is this the right move Mr. Speaker? I think not.

Mr. Speaker, what about the current staff of the Tourist Board, will they be guaranteed a place in the new DMO, or will they will be sent home? I have seen this movie before in person; Mr. Speaker when the Government’s secondary health care services were closed down and contracted out to InterHealth Canada- they told us the same thing that we would not lose our jobs but said that we all had to apply for the same position that we currently occupy. We were not presented with a job description, terms of reference, pay scales, or anything. Needless to say, many of us found ourselves unemployed at that time. This must not happen to the staff of the Tourist Board Mr. speaker. We have to protect our people, and ensure that they are not left out.”

I went on to say that “Mr. Speaker, we are spending millions of dollars on developing this DMO, and Closing the Tourist Board which is a proven champion, and one of the top award-winning Tourist Boards in the region, and we have seen how successful tourism has been in our country. Why not recruit additional specialized staff for Tourist Board? Why not increase their marketing and product development budget? Why not send off staff for more specialized training in the area of Tourism? Why not create specialized units within the Tourist Board such as a Destination Management Unit?”

I still believe that, what I said in the above caption from last year’s House of Assembly Budget Debates can still be done- strengthening and enhancing the current staff and the capabilities of the existing Tourist Board.

Honorable Premier, Madam Minister of Tourism, Cabinet Ministers, it is not too late to readjust your course and head in the right direction. Listen to the people who elected you 14-1. It must be heartbreaking for these employees to bear witness to the occurrence that a government overwhelmingly elected by the people is intentionally destroying their livelihoods in this manner. And it is heartbreaking for the country to see our awards winning, superstar, Tourist Board, and Staff being treated in such an uncaring and dismissive manner.

You did not listen to my voice last year during the budget debate, however, for our people’s and our country’s sake, listen to our people’s cries now, and do the right thing.

A PDM Government would not be dismantling the Tourist Board, but rather we would offer advanced and specialized training opportunities to existing staff, enhance performance, greater boost capabilities, strengthen and expand partnerships, and diversify the functioning and structure of the existing Tourist Board and its staff complement, in order for the Board to be fully capable of leading our Tourism Sector into the future.

By; Hon. Edwin A. Astwood

Leader/PDM/Opposition

Caribbean News

CTO Chairman Hails Success of Business Meetings in Saint-Martin

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February 22, 2024 – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) concluded its business meetings last week in Saint-Martin, marking a significant milestone in the collaborative efforts to strengthen and revitalize the Caribbean tourism sector. Under the direction of Chairman Kenneth Bryan, who also serves as Minister of Tourism and Ports for the Cayman Islands, the CTO has embarked on a transformative journey to reimagine its role and impact within the global tourism landscape.

“When I took over as chairman (in 2022), we decided to go through a reimagining exercise and you can start to see the changes already,” said Chairman Bryan, citing the appointment of Secretary-General and CEO Dona Regis-Prosper, the return of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Bermuda to the 25-member body, and the re-engagement of destinations such as Montserrat as examples of the progress made.

A highlight of the meetings was the presentation of a comprehensive plan for the year ahead by Regis-Prosper, the first woman appointed to the post in the organization’s history.

This year’s first series of business meetings focused on defining a strategic direction for the upcoming year and reviewing the organization’s accomplishments since Minister Bryan’s tenure began. “The discussions were fruitful and reflective of the vibrant spirit that characterizes our collective efforts,” stated Minister Bryan. “The CTO is moving towards a reimagined, revitalized and relevant future, with a clear focus on overcoming challenges through unity and shared vision,” he asserted.

A significant part of the meetings centered on the critical role of aviation in connecting the Caribbean. Chairman Bryan emphasized the commitment to enhancing regional connectivity and addressing the complexities of aviation logistics, highlighting a resolution to engage with key stakeholders, including the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and regional airlines, to advocate for increased seat capacity and facilitate more seamless travel within the Caribbean.

The group discussed the possibility of staging a Caribbean aviation conference: an assembly of airline and airport authority executives; hotel brands; tourism stakeholders; and government ministers with responsibility for tourism, civil aviation, regulatory and finance matters. “We need robust dialogue on the necessary changes to incentivize more connectivity within the region, so we’re going to put our foot down on the gas concerning this because it’s a serious concern for many members, particularly in the Eastern Caribbean.”

Reflecting on his tenure as chairman, Minister Bryan is encouraged by the progress made, particularly in stabilizing the organization’s fiscal position, increasing membership confidence, and positioning the CTO prominently in global tourism discussions. The CTO’s efforts have also focused on leveraging technology, artificial intelligence, and digital media to enhance the Caribbean’s appeal as the world’s leading warm-weather destination.

The CTO’s vision also encompasses a rebranding of the organization and a reinforcement of the foundational spirit of Caribbean kinship. “Our goal is to ensure that every member state feels tangible value from its involvement with the CTO, fostering a sense of belonging and collective achievement,” commented Minister Bryan.

He said CTO’s strategic direction, under the Secretary-General’s leadership, promises a dynamic and inclusive future for Caribbean tourism, one that emphasizes innovation, collaboration, and a deepened sense of regional camaraderie.

 

Photo Caption: Kenneth Bryan, Chairman of CTO’s Ministerial Council and Minister of Tourism and Ports of the Cayman Islands (left), is pictured with CTO Secretary-General Dona Regis-Prosper; Bermuda Minister of Tourism Owen Darrell; and Rosa Harris, Chairman of CTO’s Board of Directors and Director of Tourism for the Cayman Islands.

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Caribbean News

DIGICEL BUSINESS’ HOSPITALITY SOLUTIONS IS REVOLUTIONISING THE GUEST EXPERIENCE

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February 22, 2024 – Digicel Business is proud to introduce its cutting-edge Hospitality Solutions, designed to transform the guest experience in hotels, resorts, and hospitality establishments worldwide. With a commitment to innovation and excellence, Digicel Business is empowering the hospitality industry to thrive in a digital age. In an era where guests expect seamless connectivity, personalized experiences, and efficient services, Digicel Business is at the forefront of delivering solutions that meet these evolving demands. Our Hospitality Solutions suite offers a range of services and technologies that will redefine the way guests interact with your establishment.

Key features of Digicel Business Hospitality Solutions include:

  1. Reliable & Secure Connectivity: Ensure lightning-fast, secure internet access throughout your property, enabling guests to stay connected effortlessly, whether for work or leisure.
  2. Enhanced Guest Experiences: Elevate customer satisfaction and loyalty with convenient and customized experiences, including Hospitality TV, Push to Talk radio, Access Control, Fixed Voice for your front desk and rooms & Video Surveillance.
  3. Efficient Operations: Increase operational performance and efficiency, reduce operational cost by reduction of manual processes. Focus on what you do best, while we take care of the rest.
  4. Security Solutions: Secure customers’ data with solutions that are easy to use but sophisticated enough to keep you secure. 5. Scalability: Our solutions are adaptable to properties of all sizes, from boutique hotels to sprawling resorts, ensuring a customized fit for your establishment. 6. Dedicated Support: Digicel Business provides support to ensure hotels and resorts can resolve any connectivity or technology-related issues promptly.

Lydia Tucker, Head of Digicel Business Turks & Caicos, commented: “The hospitality industry is undergoing a significant transformation, with digital technologies at the forefront of this evolution. At Digicel Business, we are committed to helping our partners in the hospitality sector embrace these changes and deliver unparalleled guest experiences. Our comprehensive suite of Hospitality Solutions is designed to enhance operational efficiency, increase guest satisfaction, and drive revenue growth.”

As the Caribbean and Central America‘s leading communications and technology solutions provider, Digicel Business continues to invest in cutting-edge solutions that empower businesses across various sectors

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Caribbean News

Employees Entitled Time Off to Vote

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#Kingston, February 22, 2024 – As the February 26 Local Government Elections approach, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) is reminding employers that workers are entitled time off to vote.

Director of Elections, Glasspole Brown, told JIS News that under the law, every employer is required to permit employees who intend to vote, three hours to do so. This is in addition to the usual lunch hour.

“I appeal to the business owners [and] various institutions, allow persons who are desirous of casting their ballots the time off to go and do so; and they should be allowed three hours between the period of 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.,” he said.

Mr. Brown noted that the law does not apply to persons who commence work at 10:00 a.m. or later, or end work at or before 2:00 p.m.

Electors are encouraged to make the appropriate arrangements with their employers before Election Day.

They are also encouraged to vote throughout the day, rather than just the first two hours of polling when the lines are longest.

Voters are also reminded to bring their Voter Identification (ID) card on Election Day, as it will allow for quicker and easier processing.

“However, I must point out that even if you do not have your ID card, you will be allowed to vote as long as your name is on the voters’ list. We have several processes to be able to identify you as an elector. While it is important and would help the system in bringing your ID card, as long as your name is on the list, you will be accommodated to vote on Election Day,” Mr. Brown stated.

Persons without an ID will be required to answer questions, take an oath, and be fingerprinted to verify their identity.

 

Contact: Shanna K. Salmon

Release: JIS

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