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Conjecture, Collusion and Controversy Rumors swirl as PNPs Vote at NGC

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Dana Malcolm and Deandrea Hamilton 

Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicoisIslands,  February 27, 2024 – “Unity” is the convenient refrain from the executive of the PNP party following a weekend National General Congress (NGC) that aimed to shut down a leadership scramble, an action which further fuelled rumors that the Progressive National Party is severely fractured.

“Their body language and facial expressions are telling me that there’s still contention there. Those two fellas did not even look in each other’s direction,” that was one comment shared with our news team following the leadership scuffle featuring E. Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Washington Misick, TCI Premier. 

It was one of dozens of similar observations and concerns shared with the news team and across social media as residents observed the aftermath. 

Saunders had fallen short of gaining the two-thirds delegate support needed to truly challenge Misick for the top spot, however, he still counts the number of votes secured in the motion as significant.

“Forty percent of the people voted for an outcome, that means there is a noise in the market that says, we want change,” he said in a one on one interview with Magnetic Media.

The nature of the situation Saunders explained to our news team was that his bid to challenge the Premier was registered late and there was a resulting vote on whether his late bid should be accepted on the vote of two-thirds of delegates or if he could push through with less support. The response was a resounding ‘no’ with 58 voting in his favor and 88 against.

Saunders wasn’t the only one throwing his hat in the ring for control of the governing PNP party. 

Jas Walkin, now the suspended North Caicos District Commissioner and Dameko Dean, former Wheeland party hopeful had also made a grab at the mantle but were not included in the National General Congress runoff.

Walkin publicly withdrew his bid in a statement which read, in part, “I received an email on February 6, 2024 from the Secretary-General confirming that my candidacy for leadership was approved,” but he continued in explanation for his sudden withdrawal from the race that, “Unfortunately my push has been halted, and I have to officially withdraw my candidacy for leadership of the Progressive National Party.  On Thursday, February 22nd 2024 at 4:36 p.m., I received a letter from the Head of the Public Service advising me that Her Excellency the Governor had received confirmation of my candidacy for leadership from an Executive Member of the Progressive National Party, NEC and if I was to attend the Congress or proceed with my candidacy/race for leadership on Saturday, February 24th 2024; I would be disciplined.”

The series of events has left the PNP rushing to maintain its image of a unified party. 

Kyle Knowles, Party Chairman released a statement immediately after, calling for togetherness.

”We can announce that the Party Leader Hon. Charles W. Misick has been reconfirmed to continue guiding our party forward.The Congress showcased democracy in action—where everyone’s voice matters, opinions are respected, and decisions are made transparently. It was a display of unity, civility, and passionate debate, highlighting our dedication to democratic values and founding principles of the PNP.”

The nature of the vote and Congress, carried out without invitation to the press or major announcement to the people of the Turks and Caicos worked to further fuel confusion and rumor. While it may have been labeled ‘party business’ the eventual winner will be a public servant, funded by the people’s purse.

The hush-hush tone of process has left some residents disappointed in the process of the governing party.

“At the end of the day, you will never know unless the voting public gets an opportunity to decide who should be their next leader.”

While Jas Walkin has reportedly been suspended from his job as the District Commissioner for North Caicos, E. Jay Saunders is still serving in his position as the deputy party leader, deputy premier and minister for finance, investment and trade – all of which are roles he holds at the pleasure of the Premier.

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RBC appoints new Head of Caribbean Banking

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NASSAU, April 21, 2024 – RBC Financial (Caribbean) Limited, (“RBC”) has appointed Chris Duggan, a  native of the Cayman Islands, as Senior Vice President and Head of RBC Caribbean Banking, effective  April 1, 2024. He succeeds Chris Ronald, who has been leading the bank’s operations in the Caribbean  for the last 2.5 years and has recently returned to Canada as Regional President, Atlantic Provinces at  RBC.  

Duggan, who is based in Nassau, The Bahamas, is taking on responsibilities as Head of RBC Caribbean  Banking to carry out the bank’s strategic direction and manage the overall business strategy and vision across the Caribbean region. He has a career spanning more than two decades in the financial industry  across both the United States and the Caribbean. 

Most recently, he was the Cayman Islands Government Representative to North America, in Washington  DC, primarily focussed on financial services. Prior to his tenure for the Cayman Islands Government, he  served as a senior executive at DART Family Office and Butterfield Bank. 

RBC’s Executive Vice President, Personal Financing Products, Erica Nielsen said “We’re delighted to  welcome Chris to RBC. Born and raised in the Caribbean, Chris has a deep understanding of the  regional financial landscape and a passion for representing the culture. He is highly driven, outcome focused, and passionate about building trusted relationships with clients, communities, and employees.  His appointment demonstrates our continued commitment to the region. I am confident that under Chris’  leadership, Caribbean Banking will continue to grow and serve our clients and communities.” 

As an active member of the communities where he lives and works, he has held leadership roles on the  boards of numerous charitable organizations over the years. Duggan was awarded the Queen’s  Certificate and Badge of Honour in recognition of his outstanding service to the Cayman Islands  community during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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Unlocking Sustainable Tourism: Grenada to Welcome a Diverse Lineup of Industry Leaders at CTO’s Sustainable Tourism Conference

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GRENADA (April 21, 2024) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), in partnership with the Grenada Tourism Authority, has curated a dynamic lineup of industry leaders and development partners for its Sustainable Tourism Conference (STC 2024). The gathering aims to explore new strategies for enhancing sustainable tourism amidst evolving global challenges.

Slated for April 22-24, 2024, and centered around the theme The 5 Ps – People, Planet, Prosperity, Purpose and Partnership, the event brings together experts who will discuss creating innovative tourism experiences that capitalize on the Caribbean’s rich natural and cultural resources and presents strategies and best practice solutions to benefit from emerging opportunities and address sustainable tourism challenges.

Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International and a renowned leader in sustainable tourism, will deliver the keynote address on April 22. His remarks are expected to inspire a series of productive discussions on building a resilient and responsible tourism infrastructure in the region.

The conference will feature an impressive roster of speakers sharing their expertise on sustainable tourism development during the following sessions:

GENERAL SESSION I – Planet: Preserving Paradise – Nurturing Nature for a Sustainable Future (April 22, 10:30 am – 11:45 am): This session recognizes the vital connections between the health of our planet and the well-being of all living beings, including humans. Emphasizing the urgent need for conservation action, participants will engage in discussions that transcend rhetoric, focusing instead on tangible solutions and practical interventions. Speakers include:

  • Christopher Corbin, Coordinator, Cartagena Convention Secretariat, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • Giselle Carr, Head of Brand and Communications, InPlanet
  • Maria Fowell, Senior Technical Specialist-Tourism, Economic Development Unit, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Commission
  • Rosana John, Attorney-at-Law, Dentons Delany
  • Michael Russek, Artist, Designer, Fabricator & Eco Creator
  • Maxine Welsh (Moderator), Director, The Nature Conservancy, Eastern Caribbean Division

GENERAL SESSION II – People: Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges: Harnessing Equity, Education, and Empowerment in Tourism (April 22, 11:45 am – 1:00 pm): The session will explore the pivotal role of diversity, equity, inclusion and education within the tourism sector to empower individuals and drive sustainable development. Speakers include:

  • Tonni Brodber, Representative of UN Women Multi-Country Office, Caribbean
  • Dr. Acolla Lewis Cameron, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus
  • Amrita Bhalla, Managing Director, A.B. Consulting
  • Melnecia Marshall, Deputy CEO, St. Kitts Tourism Authority
  • Christopher Lee, Executive Recruiter & Consultant, BIPOC Executive Search
  • Richard Young (Moderator), Fashion Director & Creative Consultant, Richard Young Inc.

GENERAL SESSION III – Indigenous Excellence: Championing Community, Country and Congruence with Destination Grenada (April 22, 2:15 pm – 3:30 pm): As Grenada celebrates 50 years of independence in 2024, this session highlights the nation’s achievements in fostering Indigenous Excellence through public and private partnerships. Speakers include:

  • Dr. Angus Friday, Strategic Partnerships Director, Waitt Institute, and Executive Chairman, Atlantean BioSphere Program
  • Tiffany Geer, Marketing Manager, Event Coordinator and Dive Master, Aquanauts Grenada
  • Dr. Guido Marcelle, Pharmacognosist, Environmentalist and Practicing Natural Farmer
  • Mr. Phil Saye, Director, Grenada Fund for Conservation
  • Petra Roach (Moderator), Chief Executive Officer, Grenada Tourism Authority

MASTER CLASS – Building Resilience Across the 5Ps: Strategies for Tourism Resilience & Competitiveness (April 22, 3:45 pm – 4:45 pm): This dynamic session will explore strategies to bolster resilience within the Caribbean tourism sector, focusing on environmental sustainability, comprehensive disaster management, climate variability and climate change. Speakers include:

  • Dr. Deborah Brown, Disaster Recovery Specialist, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency
  • Barry Collymore, Owner and Executive Chairman, Mount Cinnamon Beach Resort; Co-Founder of West Indies School of Hospitality (WISH)
  • Dr. Roché Mahon, Social Scientist, Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology
  • Prof. Lloyd G. Waller (Moderator), Professor of Digital Transformation Policy and Governance, University of the West Indies; Executive Director, Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre

Market & Industry Insights Panel (April 23, 8:15 am – 9:00 am): A panel convening experts from the primary source markets and key industry stakeholders to offer perspectives on the latest policies, trends, and developments shaping the tourism landscape. Speakers include:

  • Carol Rose, Head of Sustainability, ABTA, The Travel Association
  • Hannah Swift, Country Manager – Caribbean, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd.
  • Dr. Allison T. Walker, Chief Surveillance Officer, Travelers’ Health Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Rich Pruitt, Vice President of Environmental Operation, Carnival Cruise Line
  • Kendra Hopkin Stewart, Deputy Managing Director, Blue Horizons Garden Resort; President, Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association
  • Frank Comito (Moderator), Special Advisor and Former CEO/DG, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association

Inter-Ministerial Dialogue on Cooperation and Intersectoral Linkages (April 23, 9:00 am – 9:30 am): This fireside chat will feature spirited contributions from four Ministers of the Government of Grenada on modern challenges and solutions in sustainable development and disaster risk reduction. Speakers include:

  • Senator Adrian Thomas, Minister for Tourism, Creative Economy & Culture, Grenada
  • Lennox Andrews, Minister for Economic Development, Planning, Agriculture and Lands, Forestry, Marine Resources & Cooperatives, Grenada
  • Kerryne James, Minister for Climate Resilience, Environment & Renewable Energy, Grenada
  • Senator Jonathan La Crette, Minister of Youth and Sports, Grenada
  • Bevan Springer (Moderator), President, Marketplace Excellence Corporation

GENERAL SESSION IV – Prosperity: Pathways to Prosperity for Sustainable Futures: Sustainable Tourism Financing Donors’ Roundtable (April 23, 9:30 am – 10:30 am): This panel features an illustrious gathering of representatives from primary donor agencies, regional and international development organizations, and financial institutions supporting the Caribbean’s sustainable development. Speakers include:

  • Dr. Louise Twining-Ward, Senior Private Sector Specialist, The World Bank
  • Dr. Stacy Richards-Kennedy, Regional Manager for the Caribbean, CAF – Development Bank of Latin America & the Caribbean
  • Petipha Lewis, Director, Board of the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund; Chair, Network of Caribbean Chambers of Commerce (CARICHAM); Executive Director and Secretary to the Board of Directors of the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce
  • Chris McNair, Programme Specialist, Business Development, CARICOM Development Fund
  • Wayne Elliott, Productivity & Innovation Coordinator, Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility
  • Amanda Charles (Moderator), Sustainable Tourism Specialist, Caribbean Tourism Organization

GENERAL SESSION V – Purpose: Purpose Driven Tourism: Uniting Purpose with Passion for Sustainable Tourism (April 23, 11:00 am – 12:15 pm): This session brings together industry leaders, stakeholders and enthusiasts to explore the intersection of purpose and passion in sustainable travel. Discussions will explore how travelers and tourism providers can align their values and aspirations with meaningful experiences contributing to sustainable development goals. Speakers include:

  • Alicia Johnson, Author, Lonely Planet
  • Dr. Thérèse Yarde, Caribbean Fellow/Senior Director, Caribbean SIDS Programming, Conservation International
  • Kirpa Grewal, Co-Chair, Volunteerism Committee and Executive Committee Member, Women in Cleantech & Sustainability Board of Directors
  • Kitaka Mawuto, Chief Executive Officer, Elevate Media
  • Russ Fielden, Owner, True Blue Bay Resort
  • Michael Carabash (Moderator), Partner, DMC LLP

GENERAL SESSION VI – Partnership: Synergizing Sustainability: Fostering Public, Private, and Community Partnerships in Tourism (April 23, 12:15 pm – 1:30 pm): This session focuses on the transformative power of multi-stakeholder partnerships in advancing sustainability within the tourism industry. It aims to chart new pathways toward inclusive and responsible tourism development by fostering collaboration.

  • Michael Akin, President, LINK Strategic Partners
  • Marc Melville, CEO, Chukka Caribbean Adventures Group
  • Trevor Jonas Benson, President & Chief Executive Officer, Bannikin
  • Annie Bertrand, Public-Private-Community Partnership Consultant, SIDS Global Business Network
  • Glenn Mandziuk, CEO, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance
  • Michelle Mason, Social Impact and Recognition Manager, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance
  • Kennedy Pemberton (Moderator), Director of Operations, Green Case Consulting

MASTER CLASS – Fu-Tech Tourism: Demystifying the Myths and Exploring the Risks, Benefits and New Opportunities (April 23, 2:45 pm – 3:45 pm): Engage with the future of technology (Fu-Tech) in tourism through this enlightening discussion. The session will debunk myths and explore the risks, benefits, and new opportunities presented by emerging technologies, setting the stage for innovation in the industry. Speakers include:

  • Ed Limon, Co-Founder and Producer, Winged Whale Media
  • Kyle Maloney, Tech Ecosystem Builder; Digital Marketer; Investor; Co-Founder, Tech Beat Retreat
  • Stacey Hines, Founder & CEO, Epic Transformation
  • Orlando Romain (Moderator), Advisor, Grenada Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, with responsibility for ICT and the Creative Economy

CONVERGENCE POINT – Bridging Perspectives for Future Tourism (April 23, 4:00 pm – 4:45 pm): The closing session is designed to bring together diverse perspectives and stimulate dialogue and action that will help shape the future of Caribbean tourism. It explores how stakeholders are working to address challenges, meet market demands, tap into new trends and promote responsible tourism while embracing The 5Ps: People, Planet, Prosperity, Purpose and Partnership. Speakers include:

  • Shelley V. Worrell, Founder, I AM CaribBeing and Little Caribbean NYC
  • Rodney Payne, Chief Executive Officer, Destination Think
  • Oneidge Walrond, Minister of Tourism, Industry & Commerce, Guyana
  • Aria Laidlow-Ferdinand, Technical Officer, Caribbean Natural Resource Institute (CANARI)
  • Krisma McDonald, Director of Sustainability, Six Senses La Sagesse
  • Tenille Clarke (Moderator), Managing Director, Chambers Media Solutions

Partners and sponsors for STC 2024 include LINK Strategic Partners, Little Caribbean NYC, Royal Caribbean International, Silversands Grenada Beach Resort, and Six Senses La Sagesse Grenada Resort.

Airline partners include interCaribbean Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Sponsors of the Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Awards are the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association, Grenada Investment Development Corporation, International Institute of Tourism Studies at the GW School of Business, and World Sustainable Travel and Hospitality Awards.

Media partners signed up for the conference are Breaking Travel News, Caribbean Broadcasting Union, Caribbean Media Corporation, and Wanderlust.

Visit caribbeanstc.com for more information about the conference, speakers, sessions and registration details. To learn more about the Grenada Tourism Authority, visit puregrenada.com.

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CARPHA Supports Antigua and Barbuda in Building Capacity for upcoming Mass Gathering Events

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St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda. April 17th  2024. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is conducting an integrated mission to Antigua and Barbuda (ANU) during April 15-19th  to build capacity in surveillance, early warning and response systems, laboratory capacity, competence in health and food safety, and prepare for the launch of  the CARPHA Regional Tourism and Health Program (THP), ahead of the 4th International Conference of Small Developing Island States (SIDS), Sailing Week, the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, and other major upcoming mass gathering(MG) events.

The CARPHA mission, led by Dr. Lisa Indar, Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Division (SDPC), comprises  persons from several CARPHA departments: Dr. Laura-Lee Boodram, Head, Caribbean Regional Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme, Dr. Michelle Hamilton, Head of Laboratory Services and Networks (LSN), Dr. Jarelle Branford and Ms Sheena DeSilva  from  Health Information Communicable Diseases and Emergency Response (HCE), Ms Neeta Oudit (LSN), Mr. Keston Daniel and Dr. Anushka Bissoon-Pustam  of the Regional Tourism and Health Program (THP), and Mr Mohammed Elsherbiny, Senior Technical Advisor to the THP from the UKHSA.

Dr. Kamaria De Castro, Acting Chief Medical Officer, remarked “The partnership is timely as it helps to improve capacity as it assists in developing a sustainable future. We want to protect our local population as well as our visitors and let them know that we are aware of public health threats and we are preparing, building capacity, training and procuring resources that will be put in place to effectively prevent major spread of diseases. She extended her gratitude to CARPHA for the continued support and partnership.”

Dr. Lisa Indar indicated, “It is important to prevent public health threats to stop them from becoming emergencies as visitors are coming in from many different countries for Cricket World Cup, SIDS, Sailing Week and we want to make sure our visitors as well as our people are safe. We want to put systems in place and strengthen existing systems to be able to identify risks early and begin immediate and more timely responses to mitigate the potential spread of diseases.”

Key outcomes and activities of this mission include:

  • High level endorsements for the capacity building missions from the Ministers of Health, and Tourism
  • Formation of an Antigua and Barbuda THP Steering Committee for promoting healthier safer tourism
  • Communicable Diseases Surveillance workshop for Health Workers across the health sector to understand case definitions and timely reporting to the central level.
  • National Risk Assessment for mass gatherings, using the WHO/PAHO Mass Gathering Risk Assessment Tool, the results of which will be used to guide preparation and response for the upcoming MGs.
  • Desktop simulation exercises with doctors, public health nurses, Emergency Medical Services, law enforcement, National Office of Disaster Services, Red Cross and laboratory workers to assess how participants will respond  to  multiple public health  scenarios during mass gathering events and identify gaps/challenges of the same.
  • Rapid response training for public health professionals, including persons from the security/defense force and  the National Office of Disaster Services and partners. The training will review scenarios that  necessitate  mounting a response to a public health emergency by rapidly dispatching a multidisciplinary team to investigate and implement mitigating measures to contain the situation.
  • Mass gatherings surveillance training for surveillance team, public health nurses and other members within the health sector. An all-hands-on-deck approach will be taken to emphasize the need for daily and real-time reporting, monitoring, response, coordination, and communication. CARPHA’s regional mass gathering syndromic surveillance system (MGSS) is detailed,  including  national surveillance, tourism-based surveillance and the new module developed for mass gatherings . Doctors, nurses, and surveillance officers to be present at the health stations for the 4th UN SIDS Conference will also be trained and registered on MGSS.
  • Engagement with the health, tourism, and port authority teams to discuss ways to bolster disease surveillance of cruise ships for Antigua and Barbuda as a large number of the transient population for the country is through cruises, especially as Antigua and Barbuda is a homeport for many cruise ships.
  • Conduct field visits to major hotels (including the ones hosting the players and officials for the T20 games) to get them registered on the confidential early warning THiS system.
  • Training on Food and Environmental Health safety during mass gatherings for food handlers and restaurants, including those who will be providing the catering services for the SIDS Conference. The training focuses on ensuring all food handlers are equipped with the appropriate knowledge and tools to prepare, cook, store and serve food to guests at the establishments and in a Mass Gathering setting.
  • Training in Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, for the hospitality sector with an additional focus on Mass Gatherings. The session aims to build capacity to quickly identify and respond to cases of infectious diseases and will include participants from the hotel, food and beverage sectors some of which will be working closely with the SIDS Conference and will be working with the upcoming Cricket World Cup.
  • Assessments of the laboratory network of Antigua and Barbuda for optimization of laboratory services available in-country. Training in testing for priority pathogens during an emergency response and/or mass gathering will be conducted.

As a highly tourism-dependent country, Antigua welcomes as much as 20,000 visitors daily, further highlighting the need for robust visitor-based surveillance. These workshops will provide instruments in identifying and addressing various challenges of Antigua and Barbuda in preparing for mass gatherings. This joint mission aims to strengthen Antigua and Barbuda’s surveillance and response capacity and preparedness to effectively anticipate and manage potential challenges, ensuring a seamless and secure SIDS conference, T20 CWC tournament, Sailing Week and Carnival experience for all.

CARPHA and Antigua and Barbuda continue to work toward supporting Antigua and Barbuda’s preparation for these large-scale mass gathering events and for the large number of tourists visiting the islands on a daily and weekly basis. CARPHA stands ready to continue supporting Antigua and Barbuda.

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