The Turks & Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association (TCHTA) and Ministry of Tourism recently joined stakeholders on a tour and communication session hosted by the Turks & Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA).
Since 2022, the TCIAA has engaged in an intensive Congestion Alleviation Project at the Howard Hamilton International Airport (formerly Providenciales International Airport), an undertaking of over $4M. The tour served as an incremental progress update with tourism stakeholders.
TCHTA President James McAnally, TCHTA CEO Stacy Cox, Minister of Tourism Josephine Connolly, and P/S Wesley Clerveaux were among the group. All were pleased with the progress achieved to date by the TCIAA team and the plans to enhance the overall passenger experience and streamline internal operations at the port of entry.
Phase One, underway and set to be completed by July 2023, will see the extension of the vehicle drop-off area with 150 feet of curbside extension and a 4-foot-wide concrete sidewalk, alleviating the exterior curb congestion now experienced at the terminal drop-off area.
Also slated for July completion are the new airline offices, in-transit passenger screening area, holding room, and designation of a service elevator restricted to the movement of goods and merchandise.
The second phase will include the relocation of retail outlets, stair and elevator second-level access to a new Departures area, and a supporting security screening zone, all resulting in the relief of traveller congestion in the departure lounge and boarding areas. A complete face-lift is earmarked for November 2023.
Stacy Cox, TCHTA CEO, shared her experience after the tour, “This truly enlightened us to the incredible amount of work executed by these teams, which goes sight-unseen. We have every faith that their timelines are achievable. They are much closer to the goalpost than many realize, and we can share with our members that this long-standing issue is well on its way to being a complaint of the past. They will be excited to share this news with their marketing teams and travel partners.”
Additional highlights of the broad scope of structural and aesthetic changes included:
A $1.7M upgrade to all restrooms
New air-conditioning for the Security and Immigration areas
Administration offices moved to new structure to accommodate expansion of sitting area
Addition of 1000 seats
Additional check-in counters
Commenting on the vast scope of work, TCIAA CEO Godfrey Smith stated, “What we have undertaken is a progressive approach to the larger vision of a terminal with the capacity to accommodate our tourism growth into the next three years,” He continued, “While we move ahead in that vein, it is not lost on us that we must meet the demands of the traffic we are seeing today. The update with our tourism partners was a wonderful opportunity to share our progress as we ensure we are poised for this year’s peak season.”
The association shared that this was the second time the organization had received an invitation from the TCIAA team for a first-hand look at the work underway. In October 2022, the TCHTA was engaged to view the progress of the airside walkway canopy erected to increase free flow for high traffic periods – a critical component of the congestion alleviation efforts.
TCHTA President and General Manager of Beaches Turks & Caicos, James McAnally, confirmed his satisfaction with the information shared during this recent tour, “It is clear the teams are hard at work. There is a meticulous progression in place and a strategic plan to get there, taking mitigating circumstances into consideration. We are impressed and encouraged by the timelines presented.” When asked how he believes this will affect traveller sentiment for the destination, he responded, “This bodes well for both the domestic and international travel community, and our travel partners will undoubtedly be very pleased with the changes.”
Sharing her views on the progress report, Honourable Connolly stated, “The progress update was insightful and well received. I commend the TCIAA for their efforts in implementing this project. The progress made thus far is reassuring and demonstrates theirs and my governments commitment to delivering exceptional travel experiences to all who visit our islands. This project will not only enhance the arrival and departure processes but also contribute to economic growth and reinforce our reputation as a premier tourism destination.”
The TCHTA commends the TCIAA team's arduous efforts to cater to the country’s ever-increasing tourism market. The organization is also pleased that the government has provided the funding necessary to align the offering in Turks and Caicos with the demand from the travelling public.