TCI Minister of Tourism Statement on Border Reopening to International Visitors
and Return of TCI Residents
PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS (May 29, 2020) – The announcement that the borders of the Turks and Caicos Islands will reopen on July 22, 2020 to regional and international visitors is welcomed news for the tourism sector and is praised by Minister of Tourism Hon. Ralph Higgs as the declaration was made today by Premier Hon. Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson.
The Ministry of Tourism, the Tourist Board and industry stakeholders now have a definitive date with which to ensure that all necessary measures are implemented to safeguard the well-being of our residents and visitors to our shores. These measures, which will be announced to the public in the coming weeks, are based on regional and worldwide standards. In the days and weeks leading up to the re-opening of our borders, the Ministry of Tourism, in close partnership with the Ministry of Health and our key stakeholders within the sector, will be working expeditiously to guarantee the destination’s readiness.
The Tourism Industry was one of the hardest hit sectors with the closure of borders and curfews over the past few months. The measures undertaken were necessary to ensure that the COVID-19 virus was contained and that the country, guided by the Ministry of Health, could establish processes and procedures for health, safety and security once our borders re-open to international travel.
Over the past few weeks, Hon. Ralph Higgs led discussions and engaged with the Ministry of Health and key stakeholders of the Tourism Industry to assess measures that could mitigate the impact on the industry workers and also those that will see the speedy preparation to open. The Ministry of Tourism is in the final stages of preparing protocols that will guide the Tourism sector to its re-opening and to its continued functioning in what has been described as ‘the new norm’.
“Overall my Government will ensure that the health and welfare of our industry workers, residents and guests is paramount. We will continue to work with our stakeholders from the various sectors, such as tour operators, accommodation, transportation, etc. to ensure compliance with any and all measures designed by the Ministry of Health to minimize the risk of transmission as much as possible. We are eager to welcome visitors back to our shores. This careful planning will put Turks and Caicos at the top of the competitive ladder, as visitors will recognize that we put their safety first. I am looking forward to the re-opening of our borders in a way that will safeguard the health and safety or all and ensure that TCI remains ‘Beautiful by Nature’ and as safe as possible from COVID-19,” stated Hon. Ralph Higgs.
The Ministry of Tourism’s key objective is to assure potential visitors that we are taking all the necessary actions to prioritize their safety and the safety of those who will serve our visitors at our world class hotels, villas, restaurants, airports and taxi services.
Additionally, the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with Ministry of Health, Immigration and Border Control and others have started the process of the repatriation of Nationals to our shores. Cabinet on May 15th through Emergency Regulations gave consent to allow for the borders to be opened to facilitate Nationals returning home. To date we have seen the return of persons from the Dominican Republic and some recently trained police officers from Barbados.
The process of bringing our people home will continue today with persons arriving from Jamaica and tomorrow JetBlue will touchdown at the Providenciales International Airport to repatriate American citizens and other nationals who wish to leave the Turks and Caicos Islands. JetBlue has also been given permission to bring Turks and Caicos Islanders from the US on said flight.
All Turks and Caicos Islanders and residents who have arrived and are scheduled to arrive today and tomorrow, will be quarantined for 14 days and undergo the relevant test for COVID-19. Plans will continue over the next few weeks to bring more Turks and Caicos Islanders home from the South Florida area and in conjunction with other countries in the region, trans-Atlantic flight for persons in those areas.
All Turks and Caicos Islanders and residents who wish to return should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to provide the following:
- Number of persons in your traveling party
- Contact information
- Country of departure
- Proof of legal status in the Turks and Caicos Islands
Our repatriation efforts will follow the stated regulations and are being planned closely with Ministry of Health. It should be understood and appreciated that every effort has been and is being made to bring our people home. This effort is not without difficulty as most airports around the world are closed. Despite the challenges, these repatriations efforts are very important and we will see them through and ask for the cooperation of all concerned.