The Turks and Caicos Islands tourism coffers could rake in millions in additional revenues before the end of the summer with news that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines could begin making berths in Grand Turk.
Photo: Evolution Travel
Premier Hon. Washington Misick, pointed in a news conference a few days ago that the Turks and Caicos Islands government have been in talks with the cruise line, reiterating that the dialogues have been extremely positive.
“We are having negotiations with Royal Caribbean, and it looks very positive. Between now and the end of the summer, that we will have them calling into the town area of Grand Turk,” the premier revealed, but did not provide more details on the talks.
The pending arrival of Royal Caribbean would increase to two the number of cruise lines making calls Grand Turk. The premier pointed also that Carnival could return to Grand Turk by the fall the latest.
“I can report to you that over the last four weeks, we have had three meetings with Carnival,” Premier Misick revealed, pointing out another meeting was scheduled for Thursday, June 3. It is not clear the outcome of that meeting.
“Negotiations are going well, and we expect that between now and the end of the summer, certainly not later than October, that Carnival will be back in Grand Turk,” he added.
He said that Carnival is set to make significant investment in the Turks and Caicos, starting with the lengthening of the port at the Grand Turk Cruise Center. The lengthening of the port has become necessary owing to the consideration that Carnival has gotten rid of all its smaller boats and have invested in much bigger ones.
“They will invest another $16 to $18 million expanding to dock facilities and will be coming in with larger and newer ships. We are working closely with them, to make sure that the experience of their guests and the benefit to the vendors are what it should be.
“So on the 17th of June, we will be having a walkabout in Grand Turk to identify projects from the Carnival Infrastructure Fund… $8m-plus is available. We will see what we can do to improve the visual environment, and to get ready to get Grand Turk open and ready for the high season. We have $4million in the (TCI government) budget, and we intend to spend on that venture in 2021,” Premier Misick said.
The premier predicted that based on the economic outlook, commercial activities should be roaring before year’s end.
He said Minister of Tourism Hon. Josephine Connolly has been tasked with assembling an inventory of every property in Grand Turk that has the potential to be used for short-term rental or Airbnb facilities. He explained that such undertaking was being orchestrated to open the gate for airlift into Grand Turk.
“…Because it is our intention to operationalize on those properties, so that we be looking in some sort of airline services into Grand Turk sometime soon. We believe that there is enough capacity over there, and if properly organized and marketed, then there would be sufficient beds that would be able to support the airline services into the islands at least once or twice a week,” the premier argued.
He added: “From where we stand, the future of these Turks and Caicos Islands and its people looks bright. We have made some announcements…there will be others. What I would like to say to you as it relates to opportunities for small and medium size businesses, it is still our intention, and we are working on that, to make sure that anyone who is investing in this country has to come with a minimum level of investment…and threshold. It would be established that anything else has to be controlled by the locals.
Premier Misick also touted the establishment of a two-pronged tourism transformation task force.
“One (aspect of the taskforce) is a regulatory body and the other one is a marketing and product development part of the industry, which will include all stakeholders,” he explained, saying that government was pleased that outlook of the Turks and Caicos Islands appears rosy.
“One of the things I think is critical is that Providenciales is doing well. There is momentum in South Caicos. North Caicos is benefiting from the spillover of Providenciales. We will have some big announcements to make as it relates to North Caicos,” the premier said.