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Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Premier rebukes former Tourism Minister Ralph Higgs for disclosing living location of foreigners invited to assist with setting up DMO

Premier Hon. Washington Misick (R) and Former Tourism Minister Ralph Higgs.

Premier Hon. Washington Misick has taken former tourism minister Ralph Higgs to task for sections of an article he wrote about a pair of Caribbean tourism movers and shakers, brought in to assist with the transition from the Tourist Board to the Destination Management Organization (DMO).

The premier, who was speaking at a news conference to officially launch the transition of the Tourist Board to the DMO at the Shore Club in Providenciales on Monday (April 24), chided Higgs for abandoning any policy issues that he may have at the expense of going after the two individuals, who are from Jamaica, they were invited here on the request of government.

A section of the post that Higgs penned included the following: “These shortlisted candidates are already in TCI, staying at The Palms, on TCIG's dime for a final interview for the post. They are already living large on our dime.”

Misick referred to those comments from Higgs as reckless.

“…One thing we have to stop doing in this country is ad hominem attack on people. And that is really bad, and to see that it was coming from a former minister government and tourism, who went as far as to identify where people were living…that is endangerment, and it is despicable and should never happen,” the premier charged.

He added; “If you have an issue with policy…something at that level speaks to policy…don’t attack people, because they, whether be it a local person or a foreign person, they are answering a call,” the premier noted.

He pointed out that the two individuals were in the country acting as change managers for the setting up of the DMO, and was not seeking employment with that body.

“We have project management. One project ends and the other one begins. So, essentially what happened is the main project ends. The project managers identify a list of known performers in the industry, and interviews were held, to continue the project.

“So, those persons are not going to come in as employees of the DMO. They are coming in as change managers. They will transition it (tourist board) from where it is today to where we want it to go.

“So, they would manage the change. They will assist the government and board in managing the transition, perhaps assisting in putting systems in place, and potentially assisting with head-hunting for a permanent CEO,” the premier explained.

In the meantime, Premier Misick insisted that the Tourist Board could not be restructured to do the work that the DMO is slated to do, since the new mode of operation would cater to a 50/50 management between government and the private sector, as oppose to a tourist board where government is the only one at the table.

“The Tourist Board cannot be restructured. It is a tourist board. if we structure it, we would assume it is still driven by the government. So, I don’t see how we can restructure it. I think what we are doing is restructuring the whole tourist ecosystem,” stated.

In the meantime, the Premier was cautious to state that the tourist growth being experienced in the Turks and Caicos Islands was rather organic rather that a fertilized one. As a result, he argued for a structured system where the product is properly managed to foster long-term stability.

“Our growth is organic. Over the years the industry has been drifting. And while we get all the accolades, it has very little to some extent (robust marketing effort on the part of the Tourist Board). And I don’t want to take away from people who worked hard. We all live here and I don’t want us to pretend that we are not aware of the circumstances,” he said.

He added: “We have created 50 new jobs in four years to better manage the product, so while I sympathized with people who may be temporarily relieved of their position, the government is making sure that they are compensated properly, and the door is left open for them to apply for any of 50 jobs as they come up. I don’t think we can do it better than that.”



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