The country has cemented itself as a luxury destination with an increased number of high-end visitors it continues to pull, according to Trevor Musgrove, President of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association (TCHTA).
Musgrove, who was a guest on the FLOW in the Morning Thursday show ‘Career Connection’, with Melanie Smith, revealed that within the first six months of 2021, approximately 2,700 private jets have graced these shores, pointing out that visitor arrivals have been record-breaking over the period.
“The luxury market is on a rise. We are number one, and I want to maintain that, because you know whenever you are number one, there is somebody else looking to take that spot,” he said.
He added: “We had a very good summer and spring, better than 2019…and that (latest successes) was in the pandemic.”
The TCHTA boss said the increase in visitor arrival is also based on tourists who regularly visited other Caribbean countries such as Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, have now come here for the first time and are “seeing the value for money.”
He stated that because of the bumper arrivals, the real estate market is in a frenzy, with properties being purchased on a rapid scale.
Earlier in the week, the Cayman Compass, one of the Cayman Islands’ most premier publications has heaped praises on the Turks and Caicos Islands for their mastery in combating COVID-19, thereby enabling a successful return to tourism.
“It's something to have your competitors recognize your hard work …it shows the collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Tourism Board and the TCHTA. We all work together.
“There are many times that we had to mobilize quickly when our source markets changed their regulations, like the US, when they came with the rapid testing. We got in the room, figured it out,” he stated.
He said it was because of such collaboration the Turks and Caicos was able to win the Caribbean’s leading Beach Destination and the Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination at the recently held regional World Travel Awards.
“I think a lot of our competitors look at how we work together…private and public sector. Kudos to the Ministry of Health and the Tourist Board for all the support that they lend in the different areas,” he said.
Speaking to his tenure as head of the TCHTA, Musgrove stated that one of the first orders of business for him after being elected earlier this year was to acquire a more favourable rating from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which at the time did not have enough data on the Turks and Caicos.
His job at the time was to work closely with the government in order to get the CDC the data needed, which he said was done successfully as a result of the alliance with government.
“We gave them the data and was able to get that corrected,” he said, noting also that concerns at the airport regarding in-coming passengers was another matter he tackled in his first 100 days.
“When I took over the associations, one of my aims was to grow the membership, to get more local businesses involved, and since assuming that role you find that about 25 small businesses, all local, joined and have become part of it. My approach was to have all hands on deck, and I want all sectors of the market to be involved,” he said.
Musgrove pointed out that the misconception about the TCHTA is that it only caters to hotels. However, he noted there are many businesses outside of hotels and restaurants that support the industry, and so, those needed to be part of the tourism umbrella group as well.
“A lot of people think it is just hotels, but you have the banks, taxi drivers, the boat tours, spas, villas. To date, we have over 200 members, and that speaks volumes as to where we are going,” he said.
He said the mission and the aim of the TCHTA are to advocate on behalf of its members to government or any other entity.
“There is a lot of benefits of being a member. We do a lot of community outreach, just recently we donated TVs to the Hospitals in all the patients’ rooms…that’s just a small gesture to pull our members together,” he said.
Explaining its recently launched ‘Member-to-Member Reward Programme, Musgrove said: “Obviously, you have to be a member of the Association to benefit, and in my opinion, it is taking networking to the next level. The real reason for that was to connect the small businesses with the big businesses, but also have incentives between (them).
“Let’s say a hotel having a discount on a room or something, and you were a boat tour company, you can actually trade those discounts. I remember when we started the programme, Tropical Shipping, which is also a member of our Association, had a 25-year anniversary and it was the time that the country had started reopening, and they offered discounts to all of our members…huge discounts that you wouldn’t have gotten without being a members. It is a member to member (initiative). We are connecting a lot of the big businesses to the small businesses.”
Musgrove also took time to thank the tourism industry workers for their role in making Turks and Caicos weather the COVID storm, assuring them that much brighter days are ahead.
“We could never have done it without them, and the country is really better off because they stick with it. Brighter days are ahead. The season coming up is slated to be one of our best,” he said.