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Fairness Needed! Consumer Demand Outpacing supply in TCI

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

#TurksandCaicos, March 20, 2024 – The boom in tourism in the Turks and Caicos Islands, while excellent for the economy, is exposing the need for urgent infrastructural upgrades in order to cope more competently and more equitably with the increased demand; already two of the country’s key utilities are showing signs of strain.

Over the weekend multiple residents called the news team complaining that they were without an essential resource, water, and now nightly restrictions are being introduced.

On March 18, Provo Water Company revealed nightly lock-offs would begin, without which they say there simply wouldn’t be enough water to go around.

“In light of the exceptionally high demand experienced from now until the end of April 2024, we have reluctantly implemented nightly water restrictions from 9:30 PM to 6:00 AM to replenish the Suzie Turn tank, which caters to two-thirds of the Island’s water needs. This measure is crucial to ensure sufficient water availability for the following day’s requirements,” the company said in an emailed letter to consumers.

Holding a 65-year government contract, Provo Water is the older and more extensive provider of the two local water services currently in operation in the Turks and Caicos, the other being Leeward Water Services. It’s now telling customers they should consider backup water drums to make up the 9-hour gap where water will be turned off. In tandem with the lock-offs are necessary maintenance runs.

Residents say they had already been experiencing disruptions prior to the announcement; the news team was flooded with comments including:

“Water pressure terrible over here in Belglade,” another resident said, “The water problem has been worse lately. Even the hotels are having issues now.”

Residents reported low water pressure to total water loss in their homes all across Providenciales, issues the company has warned could occur.

Tourists are similarly affected and with air arrivals up six percent in January and 13 percent in February according to statistics released this week by Experience Turks and Caicos; long stay visitors numbered over 126,000 guests for the first two months of this year.  This figure would add to the resident population.

Melissa Monko, a guest, posted in the Facebook Group ‘Turks and Caicos Tourist Guide,’ that her Turtle Cove getaway was out of water, sharing the notice from Provo Water Company.

“It was off in the mornings and afternoons for several days. Seems they have a plan in place now,” she said.

The utility company says it recognizes the inconvenience caused and is now engaged in expansions across Providenciales to alleviate the problem. Cited as fixes from are, new transmission mains to be completed by May, valve replacements, to be completed by September, and a new desalination plant.

The Energy and Utilities Commission has been in consistent dialogue with the water company and after carrying out their own assessment, have found the lock-offs necessary. It now says the EUD is supportive of the plans to increase capacity, but are warning that they will be carrying out strict oversight to make sure the measures are not only effective but do not come at the undue cost of residents.

“The EUD has maintained open lines of communication with PWC, thoroughly discussing the immediate challenges, the anticipated increase in demand, and the company’s strategic mitigation plan,” said Delano Arthur, Energy & Utilities Commissioner who added, “It is our priority to ensure that these necessary infrastructure upgrades and expansions are executed in a manner that balances reliability, sustainability, and affordability for all residents and businesses in Providenciales.”

Also looking to expand its services is the Turks and Caicos’ sole power company, but in that effort, there is a proposed increase in the electricity rate. An application for the increase has already been lodged by FortisTCI.

”Over the past few years, the Turks and Caicos economy has experienced robust economic growth. This has led to increased demand for electricity. The rising demand requires expansion to the electricity system to ensure continued reliable service to our customers. This, together with high inflation and rising interest costs, are the primary reasons for the electricity rates review,” FortisTCI shared with the public.

That rate increase is currently under review by the government, and in an effort to better regulate all utilities, TCIG is in the process of introducing a draft policy for Public Utility Regulatory Reform, which it hopes will guide the provision of higher-quality services.

It’s another significant indicator that the sheer number of people travelling in and out of the British overseas territory and new people coming in to add to the labour force is overwhelming to the current infrastructure.

Regarding travel, the Providenciales International Airport is another, possibly the most glaring, example of just how interest and intrigue are growing more quickly than infrastructural development.

On March 16, two days before the water restriction announcement and three days after the electricity rate increase application was disclosed, over 10,000 guests were scheduled to pass through the airport.  However, the Providenciales International was unable to manage the record-setting passenger demand.  With flights unable to land, it forced delays and cancellations and resulted in 528 guests having to overnight in the destination which had little to no rooms available.

No industry is being spared the crush, banking is also affected. During an attempt at digitization, several banks shut their doors replacing teller services with full-service Automated Banking Machines. Unfortunately, residents and tourists report that the ABMs are usually low on cash and often out of service making it difficult to access their money.

The government has also recognized that the current roads are unsustainable, single routes lead to some of the most important infrastructure like airports, causing chaos whenever there are disruptions. A new consultation is being undertaken to find out how best to rework the country’s road network to manage the explosion of motor vehicles and the traffic congestion it is creating.

Now that the bi-partisan Vision 2040 document is launched by the Turks and Caicos Islands Government, it may more clearly chart the way forward in identifying trends, predicting demands and instituting commonsense plans which result in an island nation ready to embrace the growth it is gunning for.

Until there is deeper consideration, there will remain an unfair burden on the consumer who – often without compensation – is left to withstand or wilt under the weight of any failure to forecast, that includes all of the fumbles and fouls that go along with it.

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Experience Excellence at the 2024 Christie’s International Real Estate Masters Circle & Agents Summit

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June 24, 2024

 

We are thrilled to announce our participation in the prestigious 2024 Christie’s International Real Estate Masters Circle & Agents Summit, set against the iconic backdrop of Beverly Hills. This remarkable event represents an unparalleled opportunity for our team to immerse ourselves in a treasure trove of educational resources, cutting-edge tools, and invaluable networking experiences.

At this summit, we will be at the forefront of the latest developments in the luxury real estate sector. We are eager to learn from industry leaders and experts, gaining insights that will enable us to elevate our services to new heights. From innovative marketing strategies to state-of-the-art technology, we will be exploring a myriad of ways to enhance our clients’ experience.

Connecting with our global network and the foremost figures in the luxury real estate world will allow us to exchange ideas and collaborate on best practices. This global interaction is essential for us to continue to provide our clients with exceptional service, informed by the latest trends and global market dynamics.

The knowledge and connections we gain from this event will not only empower our team but also reinforce our commitment to delivering excellence in every aspect of our business. By attending the Masters Circle & Agents Summit, we are not just investing in our growth but in the continued satisfaction and success of our clients.

We look forward to translating this enriching experience into unparalleled service and extraordinary results for our esteemed clientele. Stay tuned as we bring back the finest insights and innovations from Beverly Hills, setting new standards in luxury real estate.

Thank you for being part of our journey. We are dedicated to exceeding your expectations and achieving new milestones together.

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Three Generations Bring Books to Life at Oseta Jolly Primary School

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MEDIA RELEASE

 

 Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, June 12, 2024 — What could be better than a Reading Road Trip experience where vacationers get to visit a local school to read to children? A Reading Road Trip featuring three generations of family members! This unique experience recently unfolded when travel agent and Chairman’s Royal Club (CRC) member Renee Rice and her family vacationed at Beaches Turks and Caicos.

A key highlight of their vacation was the highly anticipated visit to Oseta Jolly Primary School. In honour of the school’s 50-year anniversary, the family donated approximately fifty (50) pounds of school supplies. Renee was joined by her husband Bruce, daughters Cheyenne, Brigitte, and Marily, and grandchildren Kyla, Kinsley, Banks, Jackson, and Evey. The group was also accompanied by a team of Sandals Foundation ambassadors.

This is just one of many contributions Rice and her family have made to schools in the Turks and Caicos, their home away from home. These generous donations have been facilitated through the partnership between the Sandals Foundation and the U.S.-based nonprofit Pack for a Purpose initiative. This partnership allows guests staying at Beaches or Sandals resorts to bring educational supplies for local communities, making a meaningful impact.

The donated items included pencils, folders, crayons, markers, washable paint, and activity pads. Vice Principal Sharonica Grant accepted the items on behalf of the school, expressing her gratitude. “We thank you for visiting us to help us celebrate our golden year. Your time with us is invaluable. Our students had a blast during the reading sessions, and they will continue to benefit from the school supplies after you’re gone,” she shared.

Marilyn Burke, one of Rice’s daughters and a Special Education Coordinator for the Oxford City Schools in Alabama, chose to read to the Special Needs class with her daughter Kinsley. In line with the Sandals Foundation’s theme of promoting food security and healthy nutrition, they spent time teaching the children about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. Special Education teacher, Tevynn Lewis remarked, “my children always enjoy having visitors, and we are always happy to welcome people from our community who are willing to share with our children. It was evident that they enjoyed the stories that were shared.”

A heartwarming moment occurred when eight-year-old Evey James took charge of a group of six kindergarteners, reading to them, explaining concepts, and guiding them through their worksheet and colouring activity.

Orville Morgan, Public Relations Manager, was thrilled with the success of the event. “I am happy we were able to make this Reading Road Trip a reality despite the unfavourable weather earlier in the day. The students enjoyed the visit, and the family has already formed bonds with the children, promising to return next year. These are the moments that I live for. I was particularly impressed by how well the teens and grandkids handled themselves. They were very much in control of things while being patient and comical in their interactions,” he noted.

For 15 years, the Sandals Foundation has positively impacted communities across the Caribbean through the pillars of education, community development, and environmental conservation. The Rice family’s visit to Oseta Jolly Primary School is a testament to the lasting and meaningful connections that can be formed through such initiatives.

Photo Captions: 

Header: Oseta Jolly vice principal Sharonica Grant (3rd right) accepts the gifts from Renee Rice

1st insert: These boys share a keen moment with their work sheet

2nd insert: Evey James, grand daughter of Renee Rice goes through the paces with students during one of the activities at the Oseta Jolly Primary School

3rd insert: One of the students at the Oseta Jolly Primary shares his creative skills with one of Renee’s granddaughter

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Minister of Tourism leads delegation to CTO Caribbean Tourism Week in NYC

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MoT and Experience Turks and Caicos sponsor Smart Destination Management Luncheon, Experience Turks and Caicos Co-Chair interviewed on CBS News

 

Minister with Stacy and Donna

PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS (June 18th, 2024) – Minister of Tourism, the Hon Josephine Connolly led a delegation comprising representatives from the Ministry of Tourism, Experience Turks and Caicos and the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association to the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) Caribbean Week in New York from June 17th to 21st.

The delegation comprised Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Mr. Wesley Clerveaux, Assistant to the Minister, Ms. Leandrea Missick, Mr. Alvin Hegner, co-Chair of Experience Turks and Caicos Ms. Trina Adams, Chief Marketing Officer of Experience Turks and Caicos, Ms. Laura Dowrich, Public Relations Manager of Experience Turks and Caicos and Mrs. Stacy Cox, CEO of the Turks and Caicos Hotels and Tourism Association.

This year’s Caribbean Week was centred around the CTO’s 35th anniversary theme “Connecting the Globe, Celebrating Diversity” and included events designed to spark conversation aimed at driving development within the Caribbean tourism industry.

Interviews at media market

Experience Turks and Caicos and the Ministry of Tourism sponsored the Smart Destination Management luncheon on the final day. In her welcome address at the luncheon, Minister Connolly spoke of Experience Turks and Caicos’ use of data to drive strategies and inform the tourism industry in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“Our vision for Experience Turks and Caicos is to be a trailblazer in the realm of Smart Destination Management. While we are still in the nascent stages of this journey, our aspirations are clear and compelling. We aim to harness the power of technology, innovation, and collaboration to enhance the visitor experience, protect our natural and cultural assets, and ensure sustainable growth for our islands,” she said.

Speakers for the discussion were Nicola Madden-Greig, President of the Caribbean Hotels and Tourism Association, Jeremy Jones, Corporate Director, Resort Operations, Jamaica, Sandals Resorts International, Carl Gordon, Director, Government Strategies Growth, MasterCard and Chelsea Collier, Founder, Digi. City.

Minister in interview 2

While in New York, Experience Turks and Caicos Co-Chair Mr. Hegner was interviewed on CBS News on the issue of the five Americans who were held for the possession of ammunition.

Mr. Hegner reassured the American public that the relationship between the Turks and Caicos Islands and the US remains strong and the destination remains welcoming and peaceful to all.

Mr Hegner also welcomed the removal of the mandatory minimum 12-year sentence for persons guilty of firearm offenses.

On Friday, June 14, 2024, the House of Assembly unanimously approved the bill, which clarifies that where the court finds exceptional circumstances in cases of illegal possession of firearms and/or ammunition, they can impose a fine, a custodial sentence, or both a fine and a custodial sentence.  The amendment was put in place to address marginal cases of exceptional circumstances for both residents and visitors and ensure the sentence is proportionally consistent with those circumstances.

Header: Min of Tourism, the Hon Josephine Connolly with TCI delegation

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