PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos -- At a time when other tourist
offices are downsizing operations and consolidating locations, the
Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board will open its first offices
in New York and London in June.
Tourism personnel will share the space with officials
representing the investment and real estate end of the Turks and
Caicos economy, certainly a lucrative sector given the current
state of resort, villa and condominium developments.
The tourist board already has a U.S. office in Fort
Ralph Higgs, deputy director of tourism, said that "the exposure
to and the visibility of our tourism and investment products are
key to maintaining and increasing our market share."
The opening of offices in key gateway cities follows a plan laid
out by Michael Eugene Misick, who took office last December as
chief minister of the Turks and Caicos as well as minister of
Higgs said that more than 60% of the destination's guests return
as repeat visitors, and "many decide to buy property."
U.S. visitors, who account for more than 70% of all air arrivals
-- and most are from the Northeast -- totalled close to 130,000 in
2003, up by 10,000 over the previous year.
Increases in airlift from the U.S. "have matched our tourism
growth," Higgs said.
Build it and they will come
Hotel and resort development is keeping pace, as well. Inventory
totals 2,200 guest rooms with more on the way.
Grace Bay Club, for example, is adding 38 two- and three-bedroom
villas to its inventory of 21 luxury suites. The new villas, in
four buildings adjacent to the resort, will open in September
The $25 million Amanyara Resort on Providenciales' northwest
coast will feature 40 luxury suites, 34 villas and a recording
studio. The hotel and phase one of the villas will open in December
Cruise traffic also is growing, rising 15% last year to 25,000
passengers who disembarked in Grand Turk, the capital of the
40-island chain. Officials project an even larger increase this
Meanwhile, a $35 million port facility, which represents a joint
venture with Carnival Cruise Lines, is under construction in Grand
Turk and expects to welcome its flew slew of cruise ships in
"Until recently we wanted to stay away from the cruise ship
invasion, but it is too important a market for us," according to
The tourist board will launch a trade and consumer marketing
campaign by June that may feature a new tagline to replace
"Beautiful by Nature."
To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].