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The Turks and Caicos Islands Registers Record Air Arrivals in January and February 2024

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Press Release

 

PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS (March 18th, 2024) – The Turks and Caicos Islands has enjoyed a record start to 2024 with a surge in air arrivals during January and February, outpacing the same period in 2023.

For January, there were 61,924* air arrivals with 64,088* arrivals in February. This represents a 6 percent increase over January 2023 which saw 58,413 arrivals and a 13.3 percent increase over February 2023 which saw 56,581 arrivals.

Cruise visitors were lower in January and February 2024 when compared to the corresponding period for 2023. The Grand Turk Cruise Centre welcomed 86,822* cruise passengers in January 2024 and 78, 293* in February compared to 88,471 cruise passengers in January 2023 and 96,127 in February 2023, a 1.89 percent and −18.56% percent reduction respectively.

The increase in air arrivals continues the upward trend evidenced in 2023.

Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Josephine Connolly said this was a bumper winter season for the destination.

“We entered the winter season with optimism based on our 2023 figures and our expectations were surpassed. The Turks and Caicos Islands continue to be the destination of choice for our affluent, luxury lifestyle market and we have been seeing that with thousands passing through the Howard Hamilton International Airport. On Saturday, March 9th, the Turks and Caicos Airports Authority (TCIAA) reported a staggering 10,077 passengers passing through the airport on that day alone! That marked a pinnacle for us with the highest influx of arrivals for the season to date,” the Minister said.

As the Turks and Caicos Islands continue to attract increased visitors, the destination is working to ensure the comfort of our guests as they arrive and depart.

For arrivals, the TCIAA has procured additional tents to provide a protective haven from the elements should the line extend beyond the building and the distribution of chilled bottled water to ensure passengers remain cool during their wait.

For departures, the ongoing Congestion Alleviation Project aims to enhance passenger experience and minimise congestion at the airport while the TCIAA advances the redevelopment project.

This project includes the immediate terminal buildout:

⦁ Expanded vehicle drop-off area (Completed)
⦁ Relocation of airline offices (Completed)
⦁ Second-level security screening (Ongoing)
⦁ Departure hold room expansion on the second level (Ongoing)
⦁ In transit passenger screening and holding room (Completed)
⦁ Expansion of the departures and boarding gates (Ongoing)

To enhance efficiency during peak periods, and mitigate delays, the TCIAA has also implemented several initiatives among them the addition of Apron Controllers to closely monitor aircraft parking and turnaround times, aiming to minimise delays through improved communication and aid in faster turnaround times for aircraft parking, and a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) restricting General Aircraft (GA) operations between 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm on Saturdays. This prioritises airlines, potentially reducing overall air traffic at Howard Hamilton International Airport and alleviating airspace congestion.

Other initiatives include increased security personnel, strategically positioning hosts to ensure efficient flow in high foot traffic areas and live entertainment to serenade passengers.

*These are preliminary figures

About the Turks and Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos Islands is made up of two groups of islands in the Lucayan Archipelago: The larger Caicos Islands and the smaller Turks Islands, thus the name. It is home to the best beaches in the world with majestic white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Each island and cay are a destination of its own. Providenciales is home to world-renowned Grace Bay Beach, luxury hotels, resorts, villas, spas and restaurants. Grand Turk is ‘home away from home’ for our cruise passengers, and our sister islands are the gateway to nature, exploration, and culture. Considered the world’s best-kept secret, TCI is an effortless escape – with an ease of connectivity through direct flights from major cities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom

Government

US CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION

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#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2024 – The Governor’s Office can confirm that Her Excellency the Governor Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam and the Honourable Premier Charles Washington Misick will this morning receive a US Congressional delegation, who have requested a meeting to discuss the recent arrests of US nationals for possession of ammunition offences.

The US delegation, which arrived yesterday evening, was met by Protocol officials and is due to depart this afternoon.

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Eleven Senators, Three Governors make appeals for Leniency; Five Americans now face 12 Years in Prison

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Deandrea Hamilton                                                                                                                              

Editor

 

#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2024 – US law makers are going to bat bigtime for their citizens detained in the Turks and Caicos for breach of the firearms ordinance, a congressional delegation arrived on Sunday for talks on an amicable  conclusion in the controversial court matters.

Here for a meeting set to take place today,   the congressional delegation is led by Senator Markwayne Mullin.

Five tourists are facing the 12 year minimum for possession of bullets, they say were inadvertently left in their checked baggage, but they can get a lesser sentence if the judge rules that it is warranted under the ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ clause in the Firearms Ordinance, newly amended and stiffened in 2022.

Eleven U.S. Senators and three State Governors have addressed letters to the TCI government beckoning for leniency in the cases of American citizens charged and detained for breach of Turks and Caicos gun laws which strictly prohibit the possession of unregistered firearms or ammunition; an infraction which carries with it a penalty of 12 years imprisonment.

It became known that at least one governor was communicating with Daleeni Daniel- Selveratnam, Turks and Caicos Governor about the unsettling situation.

J Kevin Stitt, Governor of Oklahoma appeared on television vocalizing his thoughts, calling the mandatory 12 year sentence “absurd.”  His letter for leniency was endorsed by Josh Shapiro, Governor of Pennsylvania and Glenn Youngkin, the Governor of Virginia.

“We humbly ask that your government – in its wisdom – temper justice with mercy and recognize that these made mistakes but had no apparent malicious intent,” states the May 14th letter signed by all three governors.

Twelve days before, Senators had already expressed their dire concern in correspondence dated May 2nd.

Magnetic Media obtained that letter which 11 senators have supported; their dispatch issued to the Attorney General of the Turks and Caicos, Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles, KC.

Senators Markwayne Mullin, Oklahoma; Robert P. Casey Jr, Pennsylvania; Mark Warner, Virginia; Tim Kaine, Virginia; James Lankford, Oklahoma; Michael Cloud, Texas; John Fetterman, Pennsylvania; Bob Good, Virginia; Guy Reschenthaler, Pennsylvania; Josh Brecheen, Oklahoma and former presidential contender, Ted Cruz of Texas boldly signed the document, with strong words for the TCIG.

“We do not discount the fact that the authorities in Turks and Caicos take the presence of unspent ammunition cartridges seriously to prioritize the safety of its civilians. However, based on our relationships and understanding of the circumstances of these American citizens, we strongly urge you to exercise leniency when reviewing their cases.”

Both letters point to the current good relationship between the Turks and Caicos and the United States as the reason to have the cases of Michael Lee Evans, 72 of Texas; Bryan Hagerich, Pennsylvania; Tyler Wenrich, 31 of Virginia and Ryan Watson, 40 of Oklahoma come to a reasonable conclusion.

Since Monday May 13, added to the four men and despite the media attention and US State Department warnings, Sharitta Grier, 45 of Orlando, Florida was arrested, sentenced and is now out on bail on near identical charges.

She is the fifth American held in recent months for the discovery of ammunition upon departure of the islands.

Grier, was on Thursday May 16 arraigned for allegedly having two bullets in her baggage; detected as she was exiting the Turks and Caicos following a Mother’s Day getaway with her daughter.  By Friday, bail had been granted to the woman who is still expressing shock at the gravity of the consequences; a dozen years in a Grand Turk prison.

A week earlier, a Thursday May 8, media release by the Turks and Caicos National Security Council informed of the Attorney General’s report to the group, which included the Premier, Minister of Tourism and Governor on the nuances of the legislation, according to a recent Court of Appeal decision.

“The Attorney-General, in respect of the law applicable to the cases against US Nationals on charges relating to the possession of ammunition, confirmed that an Attorney General’s Reference to the Court of Appeal certified that where a court finds there are exceptional circumstances, the sentencing judge has discretion under the law, to impose a custodial sentence and a fine that are fair and just in the circumstances of each case rather than impose the mandatory minimum. The Chief Justice is advancing sentencing guidelines in this respect.”

On Sunday, Senator Mullin of Oklahoma landed in Provo, with him:  “Rep. Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania; Rep. Good of Virginia; Rep. Brecheen of Oklahoma and Rep. Cloud of Texas.  They have a few staff members and an escort of four marines.  They will be in meetings all day. We are hoping for an agreeable resolution today,” explained a source close to the senate.

We’ve also learned that the Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis may climb aboard this train in the name of reasonable justice after Floridian, Sharitta Shiniee Grier was last week charged.

On social media, Grier has opened up about her arrest.

“Once the police cuffed my leg to a chair and left me in a room by myself I started crying out to the Good Lord, saying I know you are real but I need you to move for me, right now!  I need you to show me a sign that I’m going to be alright.”

Grier explains that before she could wipe away tears, “Mrs. Susan and her husband My Pop Pop” turned up, came to check on her while in police custody and are now lending her moral support.

Court correspondent Wilkie Arthur informed that during Grier’s arraignment, the courtroom was filled with some of the other Americans accused and their families; in her post, she called Ryan (Hagerich) and Bryan (Watson), both men who share a vacation villa as they await verdicts in their bullet possession matters, her ‘brothers.’

“I know it was God who placed them in my life.  They have a heart of gold, just like me and I love them. We are family forever.”

It is this kind of solidarity that the defendants hope will work in their favour as their Representatives have reportedly taken advocacy to a new level; landing at the private airport in Providenciales on Sunday to – in person – make appeals on behalf of the five Americans with the hope of seeing them avoid the lengthy prison term mandated by TCI law.

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Subject identified

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SERVICE WITH PRIDE AND INTEGRITY

 

***MEDIA RELEASE***

May 18th, 2024.

Following a police shooting incident on May 14th, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF) is now able to name the deceased male subject, with the permission of the family.

The Serious Crime Unit contacted the relatives of the deceased, and formal identification has taken place, with the subject being identified as 14-year-old Antorens Dorcely, also known locally as ‘Toto’.

During this challenging time, the RTCIPF also expressed its deepest condolences to the deceased’s family, and the force will continue to offer support through our Family Liaison Officer.

In light of this incident, the RTCIPF is urging the public to show respect and sensitivity towards the grieving family by refraining from sharing any footage of the deceased on social media.

Sharing such material can cause additional distress and harm. We emphasize the importance of empathy and respect for the family’s privacy as they navigate their grief. The death of any young person is a loss to the TCI.

The RTCIPF is committed and dedicated to conducting a thorough investigation and ensuring that all aspects of the incident are carefully examined and the findings are communicated transparently to the public.

A request has been made to an external police force to conduct a review of the incident. This is a routine procedure and intended to ensure an independent and objective review of the facts. The community’s cooperation and respect during this time are essential. The RTCIPF assures the public that we remain dedicated to upholding justice and accountability.

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