Government to replace Tourist Board with DMMO and Tourism Regulatory Authority
To ensure visitor safety and confidence in all service providers, while maximizing the full monetary returns of the tourism product, the government is moving with haste to establish the Destination Marketing and Management Organisation (DMMO) and the Tourism Regulatory Authority.
Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday at the Premier’s Office on Providenciales, Premier Hon. Washington Misick declared that when such mechanisms are put in place, it is projected to increase visitor arrivals, create longer stays, and an overall great experience for all guests.
He said while the DMMO would drive the marketing of the industry, the Tourism Regulatory Authority would regulate those who operate within the sector, noting that the regulatory body would ensure that standards are kept.
Additionally, Misick said the DMMO would look at the various tourism product that could be included in its mainstream, to enhance the visitor experience, and also to develop artisans, to ensure that more money is retained in the local economy.
He said the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board has done a great job, given its current mandate, but stressed that such directive was limited.
“And so, the goal is to advance the Turks and Caicos Islands to the next level. To solidify the country’s position as a top destination in the region and one of the best in the world,” Premier Misick said.
He said the TCI has had a great run with limited investment but that is not sustainable.
“That organic growth that we see has to be supplemented with some tangible policy decisions and major investment in the sector. So, we want to move from good to great, and that is the goal through the setting up of the Destination Marketing and Management Organization.
“The DMMO and the Tourism Authority, together are key elements to the visitor experience through an integrative network, including all stakeholders…frontline public servants at the airport, immigration and customs, stakeholders from the Taxi and Tour operation, the spas, the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority, the jewellery stores, the shops, the restaurants, watersports…anyone who has anything to do with tourism is a stakeholder,” he emphasized.
He added: “I want us to get in our heads the concept of an integrated networking system in which decision-making rests in the hand of every stakeholder, to have a seat at the table…and that is what we are trying to achieve through the DMMO.”
Missick said the establishment of both bodies is etched in the Progressive National Party (PNP) Manifesto, which is entitled ‘Contract with the People’.
“We all know that the Turks and Caicos Islands depends on tourism. In fact, it could be said that it is the second most dependent tourism destination in the world. And therefore, we must ensure sustainability that reflects our luxury branding, and one that would allow us to really finetune our offering as a destination,” he said.
He said that the Turks and Caicos Islands has been fortunate to possess what he deemed the God-given attributes, such as the ocean, the beach, natural beauty, which makes it a hit with high-end tourists.
In addition, he said the country is close to its source market, while using the U.S. dollar as our legal tender.
“We have a strong legal common-law system. Despite the uptick in crime recently, we are still a safe destination. And so, all of those things have converged to make this a very dependable and a very desirable destination,” the premier said further.
He said the 2021 arrival figures, especially for the third quarter is a telltale sign that the destination is a hit with visitors. He said 2021 arrival figures had dwarfed the 2019 or pre-pandemic figures.
“And it would only get better based on the projection that we are seeing. And so, we must position the country to ensure that we sustain and that we manage this upward trend in arrival for 2022 and beyond,” he said.
The premier said consultants to get the projects moving have already been sought, also promising to have local consultations.
“There will be consultation with stakeholders in the next coming weeks and months,” he promised.
The premier, however, hastened to declare that making the Tourist Board defunct would not be a job-cutting exercise, but clarified that employees would either be assimilated in DMMO or other areas of government.
"There is no intention to fire anyone within the two organizations,” he said.