President of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association, Trevor Musgrove, is buoyed by the level of record tourist arrivals and the prospect of government being responsive to the needs of the sector.
Musgrove, whose comments are documented in the reflection of his first 100 days at the helm, pointed out that, while there is tremendous work to be done in the industry, the tourism outlook has been better, pointing to the evidence of TCI currently enjoying a bumper tourism season, following the COVID-19 shutdown.
The following is Musgrove’s speech:
Since 1992, the TCHTA has ardently represented its members providing support through government advocacy, community connectivity, and numerous value-added support programs and services.
In 2017, Chairman and former President, Nikheel Advani, set a five-year strategic plan in motion which became the blueprint for progression in the Association’s efforts to represent its members and the wider hospitality community in the Turks & Caicos Islands.
The TCHTA’s 2021-2023 Board of Directors was elected to office in March of this year, with Mr. Trevor Musgrove of Discovery Tours & Adventures leading the body as President for the two-year term.
The Board quickly re-established the association’s committees and set out to continue building on the work in progress and the fulfillment of the new President’s goal to provide enhanced support to small businesses connected to the hospitality industry in these islands.
In its first 100 days, the TCHTA’s committees have realigned their missions with new Chairpersons and volunteers from the membership. Advocacy, Education, Marketing, Sustainable Tourism, Villa, Crime & Security, Water Sports, and Allied (non-accommodation) Membership are the banners under which the collective will work to fulfill its commitment to members and to Turks & Caicos islanders affected directly or indirectly by this critical industry.
President Musgrove and his team have held valuable meetings with stakeholders in the public sector: Premier, Hon. C. Washington Misick; Deputy Governor, Her Excellency Anya Williams; Minister of Health, Hon. E. Jay Saunders; Minster of Tourism, Hon. Josephine Connolly; and Minister of Immigration, Hon. Arlington Musgrove.
These early meetings served to congratulate the dignitaries on their new roles, and to pledge a continued commitment to partnership in achieving advancement for the industry and the country at large.
As the country’s borders reopened and the COVID-19 vaccine became available, Turks & Caicos was fortunate to see a steady increase in arrivals to our shores which has now risen to pre-pandemic levels. This has brought with it incidences of overwhelm at our international port of entry which calls for immediate attention.
The TCHTA addressed this issue with the Minister of Immigration, pledging assistance with several ways its members could help offset the negative fallout from the overcrowding at the airport while the Ministry works towards its bigger plans to address the issue.
The Minister and his team are a group of highly motivated individuals, aware that the current infrastructure leaves little room for major change, but positive they can affect immediate relief through short-term changes currently being actioned which include physical enhancements and stronger staffing management.
The TCHTA was allowed to assist with sponsoring and distributing water at the open-air terminal to make travellers more comfortable during their wait and the association will continue to support the Ministry in any way possible in the interim.
The TCHTA extended congratulations to the Deputy Governor and her team at the Ministry of Health for their stellar achievements in navigating the nation’s health throughout the crisis and having the goal of a 70% fully vaccinated population in close reach.
In meeting with the Minister of Health, the CDC level was the main topic of discussion. TCHTA members were instrumental in providing information required to aid the MOH as they lobbied the CDC to lower the country’s risk level in alignment with our low rate of COVID cases per capita and our success with the vaccination of residents throughout the country.
The meeting with the Minister of Tourism was an opportunity to learn more about the management of the TCI Assured Portal. Concerns by travellers to TCI posted on public travel forums and shared with resort reservationists about delays in authorization and an inability to receive timely assistance during the process was addressed.
The Ministry assured the association that though authorizations are being granted closer to the time of travel due to a heavy volume of entry requests, all travellers have received their approvals prior to their travel times. The Ministry also shared that their top priority is resolving the backlog of communications and ensuring responses to emails and phone messages are delivered within 24 hours.
The issue of illegal beach vending was also discussed, as the number of these solicitors is growing at alarming levels in high traffic tourist areas. The TCHTA and Ministry have pledged to work together with relevant stakeholders and departments to properly regulate this sector and address the matter holistically.
Members of the TCHTA’s Human Resources committee met with Labour Commissioner, Mr. Edwin Taylor. Mr. Taylor educated the group on the expected increase in manpower and portfolio changes within his department that will aid in quicker turnaround times and added process efficiency.
Mr. Taylor welcomed feedback and suggestions from the group and shared that the department’s employment registration drive is ongoing. He thanked the HR group and TCHTA members for successfully placing the majority of the individuals who were once registered as unemployed within their properties and businesses.
Director of the Turks & Caicos Tourist Board, Pamela Ewing, gave remarks at the TCHTA’s Annual General Meeting in March. Since then, the TCHTA’s Marketing committee has met with Ms. Ewing and her team to align with the marketing plans for the destination. Several initiatives are on the calendar for the remainder of the year, and the TCHTA will be sharing those opportunities with members as they are fleshed out.
The association has received an overwhelming response to the decision to launch the 3rd edition of the Who’s Who in Business TCI magazine. As such, the Marketing committee announced the relaunch of its premier publication, Destination Turks & Caicos Islands magazine which was not released in 2021.
The magazine will reemerge in grand style, with its 16th edition (2022) formatted in digital and print versions. Guests will be able to access the magazine in seconds through a QR code visible on tent cards in all guest rooms throughout the country and at hospitality sector businesses. The publication will also be circulated in its usual oversized magazine print format and, for the first time, will be distributed on marketing trips and to subscribers worldwide on mobile-friendly flash drives. Magazines will be available at Turks & Caicos Tourist Board offices in Canada, New York, UK, and Turks & Caicos, and can be accessed and downloaded through the TCHTA’s website. The TCHTA will also be featuring more local writers for this edition of Destination Turks & Caicos.
The strength of the TCHTA lies in the continued support and engagement of its members. The association has retained its membership numbers throughout the pandemic and has seen considerable growth to date.
Since the onboarding of the new President and Board of Directors, the TCHTA’s membership numbers have grown by more than twenty with the majority being small local businesses instrumental in supplying services to the tourism sector.
TCHTA CEO, Stacy Cox, remarked “We could not ask for a more supportive membership and are truly thankful that we have been able to see such amazing growth throughout this tumultuous time. As new members come aboard, we become a more diverse group. Our aim at the association is ensuring we give continued support and service to all of our members and to the Turks and Caicos community.”
At the beginning of the term, we looked at our five-year strategic plan and benchmarked where we stood to help us outline our goals and plan for the way forward. I am proud to say that we were fully on target. This was a direct result of the hard work of Past President Todd Foss and the previous Board who managed to keep the work of the association progressing despite the country being in the throes of a pandemic.
The TCHTA is a voice for the industry, but also for the people of these islands. I am committed to doing my best to lead this association and carry on the great work that has been started. I am privileged and excited to be working with this team of passionate individuals from all areas of the sector, and I am certain we will continue to represent our members, Turks & Caicos islanders, and brand TCI with excellence.