Visitors assured of safety despite TCI protests
Anti-Britain protests in the Turks and Caicos prompt a plea from the Governor and assurances from tourism officials.
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos, Friday March 11, 2011 – Tourism officials in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are trying to assure visitors to the island that their safety is assured, despite residents’ protests that have blocked the main access road to the territory’s main airport.
A group called the Turks and Caicos Islanders United for Justice and Equality has been staging demonstrations in Providenciales, the tourism capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands, to address concerns they raised with the interim government. Among their demands are elections by year-end and an end to direct British rule.
Their demonstrations have been taking place about half mile from the Providenciales International Airport and the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association (TCHTA), the TCI Tourist Board and the TCI Airports Authority have had to identify and alternate access route to allow people to travel quickly to and from the airport.
However, a statement from the TCHTA said that “the demonstration has not compromised the safety of TCI’s visitors and residents and the Turks and Caicos Islands remains a very safe and well-sought after destination”.
“The TCHTA ensures all tourism partners that the demonstrations happening in Providenciales and now in Grand Turk are peaceful demonstrations and have in no way disturbed the main tourism areas in Providenciales,” it added.
TCHTA President Karen Whitt noted that all the tourism agencies are working with the interim government on the matter and all businesses in the islands continue to function as normal.
British Governor Gordon Wetherell has warned, though, that the action could hurt the tourism industry and he has pleaded with the demonstrators to stop blocking the airport access road.
“Protestors have the right to peaceful demonstration, but they must also respect the rights of others, including that of access to the Airport Road. Not only is blocking it illegal, it is also damaging to the TCI’s tourist industry causing hardship to local businesses and the many individuals employed in the industry,” he said in a statement.
“The Turks and Caicos Airport Authority have confirmed that flights are operating as normal. However, it remains important that the main access route to the airport should be reopened as soon as possible, and I hope that this can be done without police intervention.”
Governor Wetherell said a return to normalcy will enable the country to continue working towards the milestones set out by UK Ministers in December 2010 so that a date for elections next year can be set.
He said he remained open to dialogue with “responsible community representatives” to discuss their concerns.
Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. ( )