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By Rashaed Esson
Staff Writer
 
 
#Jamaica, May 19, 2023 – Jamaica has received just over 1.5 million visitors as of May 10th 2023, with provisional gross earnings over US$1.6 billion for the period, according to Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism.
This indicates a growth in the island’s tourism industry which as expressed by Bartlett puts the country in line with 2019’s annual numbers.
“Between January 01, 2023 and May 10, 2023, we received 1,586,303 total visitors, stopover and cruise, earning US$1.69 billion, putting our destination on par with 2019 record figures.”
He highlighted that the island has seen a steady growth of tourism as well as continued investment in the sector which he described as a “tremendous achievement.”
Additionally Bartlett gave recognition to the investments and resilience building moves as contributing factors and key areas of focus for the strong recovery of the island’s number one industry.
He highlighted that marketing efforts, the increasing of room capacity, as well as widened aircraft connectivity as catalysts to the boost in arrivals.
In referencing the future, the continued growth of the industry, he informed that Jamaica is continuing to “secure new air service” in addition to new routes by high end carriers like Arajet, Frontier, American Airlines and Edelweiss airlines.
The minister pointed to the exciting expansion and modernization of the Sangster International Airport and the plan for 8,000 new hotel rooms set for construction over the next two to five years, which will contribute to the upward movement of the tourism industry.
Bartlett made the announcement on the country’s success on the heels of the 41st Caribbean Travel Marketplace, held in Barbados May 9-11.

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Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, May 25th, 2023 – Invest Turks and Caicos (Invest TCI) continues to grab the spotlight at the annual Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS).
A most noteworthy hotel investment conference, CHRIS, was held on March 22nd and 23rd at the Loews Coral Gables Hotel, Coral Gables, FL. The two-day event saw over 350 persons from North and South America and the Caribbean join together for an exciting agenda with 20+ informative sessions and unbeatable networking opportunities.
Invest TCI was once again a platinum sponsor of the event for the 6th year. In attendance from the Agency were the CEO of Invest TCI, Angela Musgrove, and Investment Executive Salik Garland. Invest TCI hosted a session, “Opportunities in the Turks and Caicos,” which gave attendees an in-depth look into the Turks and Caicos Islands and highlighted investment opportunities in the islands. The presentation by Invest TCI’s CEO, Angela Musgrove, encouraged attendees to consider investment opportunities in the family islands, which are relatively untouched and have much to offer. Her presentation drew attention to the islands outside of Providenciales. She noted that a world of untapped opportunities lies in the unspoiled, picturesque “family islands,” a collection of ecological magnificence waiting to be transformed.
Most noteworthy for the Turks and Caicos Islands at this year’s event was the announcement of The Rock House, Turks and Caicos Resort, as CHRIS Development of the Year 2023 and Ms. Julianna Musgrove, Regional Learning and Development Manager, Sandals Resorts International as the 2023 Rising Star Award Caribbean recipient.
Mrs. Musgrove, CEO of Invest TCI, commented on the summit, “Invest TCI is pleased to be a platinum sponsor of CHRIS once again. Over the past years, our involvement in the summit has created significant exposure for the TCI and has generated viable leads and projects for the islands. This year was most outstanding as the Turks and Caicos Islands took home two awards. We congratulate the Rock House and Ms. Julianna Moore on their achievements. We look forward to next year’s event and more great achievements from the TCI”.
For updates on CHRIS and other Invest TCI events, visit our website at www.investturksandcaicos.tc or our social media pages at @investtci.

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Addresses rapidly evolving consumer needs in the digital era providing better protection for Bahamian consumers, said Prime Minister Davis
 
NASSAU, The Bahamas – During his Communication on the Consumer Protection Bill of 2023, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis termed it a “significant piece of legislation” designed to enhance the rights of consumers across The Bahamas.
“This Bill is for all Bahamians, from the young mother budgeting for her family’s groceries, to the retiree investing his hard-earned money in a new home appliance,” he said, in the House of Assembly.
“Our individual households, our communities, and our economy depend on the integrity and fairness of trade,” he added.  “Over the years, the Consumer Protection Act, Chapter 337C, has served as a firm foundation in ensuring fairness in our markets. However, in an era of digital transactions, global markets, and rapidly evolving consumer needs and products, it’s time for us to strengthen our laws, to adapt and to better protect the interests of Bahamian consumers.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the proposed amendments directly correspond with his Government’s “Blueprint for Change” and “Economic Plan”, and reflected its belief that consumer protections were critical to economic development, poverty reduction, and social well-being.
“Our economic growth depends upon a market which encourages healthy competition, drives innovation, and ensures customer satisfaction,” Prime Minister Davis stated.  “At the heart of this new Consumer Protection Bill is a commitment to restructuring and reorganizing the existing provisions for better clarity and comprehension.”
“The Bill aims to expand definitions, refine the functions of the Consumer Commission, and modernize the ways in which the Commission operates,” he added.  “These changes are driven by a commitment to transparency and by aligning our policies with best international practices.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that his Government’s focus on transparency supported a market environment in which all players, big and small, could operate, grow and prosper in a manner that was regulated and fair.
He added that his Government was also enhancing the ways consumers can lodge complaints.
“Under the new Bill, consumers can make complaints even while outside The Bahamas, and we are expanding the list of who can make a complaint on behalf of the complainant,” Prime Minister Davis said.  “These changes reflect our commitment to inclusivity and accessibility, ensuring that all Bahamians have a voice and can seek redress when necessary.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, in a world that was increasingly digital, his Government recognized the need to streamline processes and make it easier for consumers to give evidence. To that end, he said, the Bill included provisions to allow for virtual testimony, which will expedite investigations and support convenience for consumers.
“The proposed legislation also empowers the Consumer Commission to issue Advisory Notices in situations where harmful practices to consumers are identified,” he added.  “We believe these notices will serve as a valuable tool in preventing harmful business practices and educating consumers about potential risks.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that a significant change under the new Bill was the mandatory licensing and registration of providers. Failure to comply will result in penalties, encouraging businesses to operate within the boundaries of law and promoting a culture of accountability, he added.
“The Bill includes stringent provisions against misleading and deceptive conduct, harassment, and coercion,” he said.  “We want to create a marketplace where consumers can engage with confidence and without fear.”
“A critical aspect of the Bill is the restriction of pyramid selling and the obligation for businesses to state the full costs of goods or services,” he added.  “These measures will help ensure that consumers are not exploited or deceived.”
Prime Minister Davis stated that the Bill seek to repeal sections that no longer serve their purpose, including those on approved and non-approved services and businesses offering repair services. Updating the laws to respond to changed conditions, he added, allowed his Government to ensure the people were served effectively.
“As we continue to usher The Bahamas into the digital age, this Bill also enhances our ability to oversee distance selling and payment arrangements,” Prime Minister Davis said.  “With the growth of online commerce, it’s vital that we maintain robust checks and balances, ensuring that every transaction is fair and transparent.”
“Additionally, the Bill expands on the powers of the Minister to make necessary regulations to protect consumers effectively,” he added.  “This is crucial as it provides us with the flexibility to adapt and respond swiftly to emerging challenges and opportunities in the marketplace.”
The enactment of the Bill signaled a “significant shift” in his Government’s approach to consumer protection, Prime Minister Davis said. He added that they were aiming for an inclusive economy where everyone had access to safe, quality goods and services at a fair price.
“The Bill goes beyond enhancing the rights of consumers; it is about improving the lives of Bahamians,” Prime Minister Davis said.  “It’s about ensuring that when a young Bahamian entrepreneur sets up his first business, he does so in a marketplace that values fairness and transparency.”
“It is about ensuring that when a Bahamian family invests in a new home, they do so with the confidence that their rights as consumers will be respected and protected,” he added.  “It’s about creating an environment where businesses thrive on the principles of fair competition and customer satisfaction.
Prime Minister Davis noted that consumer protection was not just about trade, it was about people.
“It is about building a nation where everyone, regardless of their social or economic standing, can confidently participate in the marketplace,” he said.
“In a broader sense, it’s about the kind of country we want to be,” he added.  “A country where trust is the cornerstone of our marketplace, where businesses and consumers interact with mutual respect and understanding. A country that values and upholds the rights and dignity of every individual.”
Prime Minister Davis said that, through that Bill, his Government aimed to empower consumers to make informed decisions, to assert their rights, and to seek redress when those rights are violated. That, in turn, will encourage businesses to uphold the highest standards of integrity, fostering a vibrant and fair economy, he added.
“The Consumer Protection Bill is about building a Bahamas where consumers are informed, businesses are accountable, and the marketplace is a space of fairness and trust,” Prime Minister Davis said.  “It’s about creating a culture of consumer rights and responsibilities, where every transaction is an opportunity to demonstrate respect and fairness.”
“This bill is more than just legislation — it is a testament to our commitment to the Bahamian people,” he added.  “It is about ensuring our nation’s prosperity and our people’s well-being.”
“It is about creating an economy that values and protects its consumers, a resilient, inclusive, and fair economy.”
Prime Minister Davis said that, in tabling the Consumer Protection Bill 2023, his Government were making a strong statement about the future it envisioned for The Bahamas.
“As we discuss and debate this bill, let us keep at the forefront of our minds the people we serve – the Bahamian people,” he said.  “Let us remember that this Bill is not just about rules and regulations, it is about their lives, their rights, and their future.”
“I am proud to present this Bill, confident that it will set the stage for a more secure, equitable, and prosperous Bahamas.”   (BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

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#TheBahamas, May 29, 2023 – With the support from several organizations and volunteers, young people at the Ranfurly Homes for Children have a new backyard farm to grow and enjoy vegetables from. The Agricultural Development Organization (ADO), Disney Cruise Line (DCL) and Church Commercial Farming Group teamed up to launch the Community Farming Project, with the first backyard farm planted at the Ranfurly Homes for Children in Nassau. The project creates hands-on opportunities for the kids to learn about a variety of vegetables and eat what they grow.
With the annual national food import bill estimated at a staggering billion dollars, the residents of Ranfurly Homes for Children were inspired to take up the challenge to grow their own vegetables and joined a fast-spreading movement in The Bahamas toward small-scale farming.
On May 6, nearly 30 children from The Ranfurly Homes for Children worked alongside members of the ADO, volunteers from the Disney Wish and the Church Commercial Farming Group to be ‘farmers for a day,’ building shade houses and garden beds and planting vegetable seeds, including peppers, cabbage, beets, basil and other spices.
“Over the last 25 years, Disney Cruise Line has been committed to creating lasting, positive impact in The Bahamas,” said Leslie Lopez, human resources manager, Disney Cruise Line. “Our support of the Community Farming Project is one of the many ways, we’re providing the tools and resources to empower and inspire young people in port communities we call home,” Lopez added.
In addition to volunteers from the Disney Wish springing into action to help build the garden while the ship was in port at Nassau, DCL committed a financial donation to help support the Community Farming Project’s development of backyard farms in schools in Abaco, near where Castaway Cay, a Disney destination, is located, and in Eleuthera, where DCL is creating a new island destination at Lighthouse Point, opening summer 2024.
Children at the Ranfurly Homes for Children will have ongoing engagement opportunities with ADO to continue learning agricultural science and how to maintain their garden.
“Thanks to ADO collaborating with companies like Disney Cruise Line, we’ve been able to distribute farming kits in Abaco, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and Nassau to individuals, groups and schools, with plans to make an even bigger impact in the future,” said Pastor Pat Paul with Church Commercial Farming Group. The ADO has distributed more than 3,000 farming kits across The Bahamas thus far.
According to organizers, the uniqueness of the program is its mentorship component. “What makes this program so different is that we are not just providing seeds, dirt and irrigation materials, we are providing guidance,” said Philip Smith, Bahamas executive chairman, Agricultural Development Organization. “With every kit we provide, a field officer is assigned to help plant and maintain the fruits and vegetables. We also track which crops are growing in the area,” added Smith.
ADO and the Church Commercial Farming Group are also taking a long-term look at growing farming with cooperative farming initiatives employing more sophisticated tools, including solar engines for fishermen, edible plant farms, plant nurseries, marine research centres and other sustainability measures.

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