Connect with us

News

Provo International Airport reaches tipping point; desperate hunt for rooms for 200 Travellers left stranded

Published

on

Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

#TurksandCaicos, March 16, 2024 -Despite the desperate situation, no one is comfortable with ferrying hundreds of stranded tourists to nearby North Caicos to put them up in hotels after a dismal day at the country’s main airport; there are little to no rooms in Providenciales.

The Turks and Caicos Islands, one of the Caribbean’s most alluring destinations is plagued by an airport experience consistently delivering to it, a black-eye and on Saturday March 16 it was particularly ugly.

“For those of you waiting in inbound flight 855 JFK to TCI we have been diverted to Dominican Republic, DR.  I will try to post if I get any info.  Have a few drinks.  It’s going to be a while, said Julie Desantis on Turks and Caicos Tourist Guide, a Facebook community page.

Deb Ballard, who said her delay was more than six hours added, “Airport here in TCI is unbearable.  All the flights seem to be delayed, a thousand people in rooms built for a couple hundred.  Trapped.”

There was reportedly also a flight from Philadelphia diverted to the DR.

And too numerous were reports of the frustration of travellers at the Providenciales International.  Some, we were informed, were caught in explosive arguments while towing the chaotic, slow moving security checkpoint lines.  As flights were being called, passengers tried to rush ahead of others who had been waiting and in some cases that led to verbal confrontations.

It’s the kind of last impression, travel destinations do anything they can to avoid.

We’ve learned there was no real help on the ground, in the terminal earlier in the day; however, by Saturday night, Josephine Connolly, the Minister of Tourism was at the airport vowing that no one would sleep at the facility.

“I will make sure that no one sleeps here.  I am doing my best to accommodate everybody that why I am here, my PS is here and Mr. Smith is here from the airports authority,” said Connolly.

She was hoping to also run interference of negative publicity for the destination and its main airport but this action by her may be a courtesy coming a little too late. In the age of self-reporting, passengers were free to film, comment and convey whatever was their experience and disappointment and many did.

It is how residents became most acutely aware of the dire situation; social media posts by guests themselves who were trying to understand what was going on and what to do about it.

It’s anyone’s guess why the Providenciales International Airport (PLS) is an absolute mess today because up to now, there has been no statement, no explanation, no directives and no solution for the thousands of travellers impacted and the hundreds stuck at the airport with nowhere to stay.

Magnetic Media has fielded dozens of questions and comments and perspectives including a message shared with the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association, TCHTA which explains as many as 200 guests were in dire need hotel accommodations for the night.

“We are looking for any property owners/villas that has vacancy and can accommodate these stranded guests.  We are making calls to the hotels and for the most part most of the hotels are at 100% capacity.”

The surging tourism interest in the Turks and Caicos Islands is famously embraced; touted by government and industry stakeholders, and it’s been communicated that an overcrowded airport “is a good problem to have” on the way to fixing it.

But that message and the years’ long wait have become a vexing cocktail that even residents say they are tired of guzzling.

“…TCI can’t handle the volume of flights they schedule.”

The situation is so impossible, that there is serious – though admittedly, last resort – consideration for a ferry ride to shuttle the hundreds of travellers into another island, North Caicos, where there are guest rooms available.  In the dark of night and with no real illumination on the water way, that idea of a 45-minute ferry for people tired and frustrated by cancelled travel plans is not gaining traction and will likely be nixed and will hopefully not be needed.

“I have a guest that left here after 12 noon and just contacted me 45-minutes ago and is asking my assistance for booking the hotels in Provo and getting them a taxi,” said a resort employee who is worried about his guests and wonders what is the problem at the airport.

Magnetic Media has reached out for a comment from the TCIAA, whose CEO has also been given  the task of taking calls from vacation villa owners or resorts which have rooms for lodging; but there were no official statements up to publication time.

At midnight, there were mixed reports from guests.  Some having been set up with a one night stay, others who had no clue what was next.

March is normally busy and the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority, TCIAA which manages the country’s airports should have anticipated that, explained hotel workers and others in the industry who are concerned about their guests and clients.

“Private jets are affected because they’re not allowed to land between 12 and 3 in order to avoid creating even more air congestion, the Miami Center, which controls the space around us, reassigns take off times to private jets despite their intended time.  So they are help up for sometimes, an entire day.”

Airline charter services are also skittish.

“…for fear they will get so delayed they will miss their next contract.  So now we are starting to risk our most top end clients as well as airline passengers.”

And the Airports Authority is not having the best time of it either.  Plagued with a wave of staff unrest which has led to some workers walking off the job, others taking industrial action and sudden terminations which are piled atop the infamous infrastructural dilemmas, it is clear any further delay on an immediate fix for the PLS will be detrimental to return guests and tourism on the whole.

“Three hours to get through the security line and then the delays,” explained a couple who are still at the Providenciales International though it is now minutes to midnight, adding, “So we have been here since 10:30 this morning and two of the people, the workers, they ran away from me.  They just left.  They just ran away, they were done!”

The guests are at the airport hoping for word on somewhere to rest their heads for the night.  TCIAA security officers have told them, they cannot sleep at the airport though many of them speaking to our reporter on the scene were prepared to do so.

Celeste Wagner Russ, a visitor to the TCI said: “The airport desperately needs an expansion – for passengers.  The space is mobbed, dirty and basically unhealthy for anyone.  The ladies room on the upper level is worse than anything I’ve ever seen in Penn Station.  The furniture is worn, dingy, and a very dismal welcome or departure.  For the tremendous number of travellers to T and C, this airport is a disgrace.”

The TCIAA, last month revealed, it had a short list of companies who qualified to advance to the next phase of the bidding battle.  The scope of work includes not only construction of an expanded airport, but management of it.  The end may be in sight, but it is admittedly years away from fruition.  An interim remedy for the PLS, is needed now.

“The congestions is exacerbated by no parallel taxiway. Which means an airplane can’t land and immediately get out of the way on the runway for the next guy to land because there is no parallel strip it could turn on to taxi to the terminal. So it takes twice as long to get each plane off the runway because they land, turn around and taxi back to the airport, where there may not actually be a parking space opened up for them yet.”

Residents in social media posts have called for flights into Providenciales to be spread out over the day; currently there is a bottleneck; commercial airlines are bunched up and landing at the strip almost one right after the other between noon and 3pm, while the mornings and evenings are like a graveyard.

Airlines have not wanted to change their schedules, and the fear is that any demand by the Turks and Caicos Islands could lead to destination Providenciales being dropped from the flight itineraries of the major air carriers.

Many have labelled that reasoning, given the phenomenal performance of tourism in the Turks and Caicos Islands, “a load of nonsense.”

News

InvestTCI facilitates the Development Agreement Between TCIG and Molo Hotel Group 

Published

on

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – May 14th, 2024 – The Turks and Caicos Islands Government and Molo Hotel Group reached a pivotal juncture on Monday, May 13th, 2024, with the ceremonial signing of a development agreement at the Premier’s Office on Providenciales. The agreement, which received official Cabinet approval on March 13th, 2024, signifies a steadfast commitment to advancing the economic landscape of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Molo Hotel Group is a family-owned business, renowned for its distinguished portfolio of high-quality hotels worldwide. The development initiative encompasses the construction of three distinct IHG branded hotels: InterContinental Turks and Caicos, Kimpton Turks and Caicos and Hotel Indigo Turks and Caicos. Scheduled for completion by 2027, each resort boasts a distinctive design from luxury to laidback sophistication spanning across the shores of Grace Bay Beach.

Kimpton Turks and Caicos – an epitome of luxury lifestyle living, will feature 192 guest rooms including three outdoor pools, a luxury spa and a fitness center. Additionally, seven dining options ranging from a beachfront restaurant to a rooftop bar.

Adjacent to the Kimpton, InterContinental Turks and Caicos will offer 59 classic luxury suites with panoramic ocean views. Mirroring its counterpart, this resort will offer an array of dining options and upscale facilities.

Steps away from the Intercontinental and Kimpton resorts, Hotel Indigo Turks and Caicos will embrace a sense of community and contemporary elegance, offering 56 bedrooms. The resort will feature an onsite restaurant, lobby bar, outdoor pool, and fitness room.

Beyond the realm of hospitality, this development agreement underscores the government’s commitment to fostering economic growth and enhancing employment opportunities in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Molo is partnering with the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College (TCICC) to actively promote hospitality as a career choice and support in developing training programs, career fairs, seminars, workshops, and events to raise awareness about hospitality careers. Molo has committed to provide employment and apprentice opportunities to TCICC students and provide mentoring and practical on property training to students.

The signing event was graced by Hon. Charles Washington Missick, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Hon. Jamell Robinson, Deputy Premier, Hon. Kyle Knowles, Minister of Public Safety and Utilities, Hon. Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, Łukasz and Marcin Slominski, Owners of Molo, Ross Morrow, Managing Director Molo, Arik Kono, Vice President Upscale Development for IHG, Dr. Candice Williams, President and CEO of the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College, Angela Musgrove, InvestTCI CEO, Dr. Barbara Ambrister, Chairperson of the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College, Dr. Delores Stapleton- Harris, Vice President of Academic, Vocational and Student Affairs for the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College, Mr. Kevin Baxter, Dean of Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) and Sheryl McLaughlin, InvestTCI Investment Services Executive.

Commenting on the development agreement, Premier, Hon. Misick, stated “The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing of IHG/Molo Hotels is a significant step towards a sustainable future for hospitality in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Three hotels, Kimpton, Intercontinental, and Hotel Indigo, will be introduced, enhancing our tourism product and creating employment opportunities.”

He further added, “Partnerships with the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College and Turks and Caicos Islands Sports Commission are underway, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to developing human capital and elevating tourism offerings. This project will bring economic growth, embrace local talent, and enrich our economy.”

Additionally, Mrs. Angela Musgrove, CEO of Invest Turks and Caicos Islands, emphasized “This collaboration confirms our commitment to fostering economic growth and prosperity within our country. We have worked closely with Molo Hotel Group, and we are confident that this transformative project will further position the Turks and Caicos Islands as a premier destination for travel and investment. Much to our delight, it will also provide opportunities for engagement with our Community College and small business community.”

The Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, operating through its primary Investment Promotion

Agency, Invest Turks and Caicos Islands, remains committed to attracting and facilitating Foreign Direct Investments to the country by providing a comprehensive suite of services. Through strategic initiatives and targeted promotion, the agency catalyzes sustainable development, driving innovation and small business opportunities across various sectors of the economy.

Continue Reading

Crime

Male Charged with Robbery

Published

on

#TurksandCaicos, May 13, 2024 – Detectives of the Serious Crime Unit of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force have charged a man who allegedly stole a vehicle.

The accused, DANVANTE  BRISCO, 30,  of  Kew Town, Providenciales, was charged with:

  • One Count: Robbery
  • One Count: Taking Motor Vehicle Without Authority
  • One Count: Using Offensive Weapon to cause fear

Mr. BRISCO appeared in court today (May 13 ) and was granted bail of $7500.00 with one surety.

The matter was adjourned to July 05 for a Sufficiency Hearing.

Continue Reading

Crime

Dock Yard Male Charged  

Published

on

#TurksandCaicos, May 13, 2024 – A 20-year-old Dock Yard male appeared in court today (May 13th) charged with a series of firearm-related offences.

The accused, JAMES SIMON, was denied bail and remanded into custody pending a Sufficiency Hearing scheduled for July 05th, 2024.

Mr. SIMON faces the following charges: 

  • One Count: Robbery;
  • One Count: Gang Membership
  • One Count: Possession of a Firearm for the Benefit of a Gang
  • One Count: Possession of Ammunition for the Benefit of a Gang.

The charges against Mr. Simon followed investigations by officers of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force into a robbery at the parking lot of a Casino where three males robbed a victim.

Additionally, Mr. Simon is charged with the following offences, having been arrested on May 02nd, 2024, along South Dock Road.

  • One Count: Possession of a Firearm
  • One Count: Possession of Ammunition
  • One Count: Unlawful Entry

Officers also charged a teenage minor who was in the company of  Mr. Simon on May 02nd with One Count of UNLAWFUL ENTRY. 

The accused, seventeen and from Kew Town, Providenciales, pleaded guilty and will be sentenced on May 20th.

Continue Reading

FIND US ON FACEBOOK

TRENDING