TURKS AND CAICOS – A new deep water port is set to be built in East Caicos allowing a second point of access for cruise ships in the TCI.
Cash from a multi-million dollar European Union fund for development will go towards construction of the facility – details of which have yet to be finalised.
Minister of Finance Washington Misick made the announcement during his address to the House of Assembly last week.
He explained that the cruise industry is extremely lucrative, and revealed that the Grand Turk Cruise Centre is likely to welcome a record breaking one million passengers this year.
“Our Government recognises the importance of our ports, cruise development and the economic development potential of the cruise tourism industry,” he said.
Last December Misick announced that the Government had secured $19 million from the European Union Development Fund (EDF), to be disbursed over a two to three year period beginning in 2016.
The money would be spent on the expansion of the transportation sector, he said, but offered no specifics.
However last Thursday (September 28) the minister declared it would go “specifically to the development of a deep water port that will be strategically located to include a second cruise port.”
He said that this will increase Government revenue from this subsector, and allow small and medium enterprises to tap into new opportunities that these ventures provide.
Misick went on to say that he welcomes public-private dialogue on issues regarding the ports, cruise industry and potential initiatives in any of the sectors.
“I encourage further engagement between Government, the private sector and even academia.
“As an aside, perhaps there could be specific curriculum offerings that are geared at tooling and retooling persons to maximise their potential in cruise tourism; by extension this broaden the skillset of the wider tourism sector.”
Last September during an infrastructure summit in Miami Premier Rufus Ewing spoke of proposals to build a “mega port” in East Caicos.
He described a cruise port, cargo port and yacht port with resort facilities, duty free shopping and other tourist attractions.
The potential would be there to benefit from shipments coming from Canada and the USA to the Caribbean and South America and likewise from Europe, he said.
He added that cruise companies could have routes beginning in East Caicos as a major hub.
Ewing also confirmed that cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean had already expressed interest in using the port.
In his address to the House of Assembly in January Governor Peter Beckingham spoke briefly of the deep water port in East Caicos.
“We will continue to develop the necessary policies, and will request proposals to facilitate both the development of a deep water port on East Caicos and the linking of the Caicos Islands,” he said.
“These initiatives will all result in significant long term economic growth and diversification, job creation and a lowering of the cost of living.”
Meanwhile Sotheby’s website is currently advertising 1,407 acres of land on East Caicos close to the proposed cruise port for $42 million.
The blurb reads: “Turks and Caicos Premier Dr Rufus Ewing has recently emphasised his Government’s commitment to work with investors to develop the east coast of East Caicos as a deep water shipping port, cruise ship port and deep water yacht basin.
“While TCI Government is developing its criteria for requests for proposals, consistent with their development study, it continues to attract strong interest in the proposed world class project by investors world-wide, including China and Russia.
“As the western neighbour to the proposed development project, the subject parcel represents a highly unique and timely opportunity to control what is by far the largest fee simple parcel available on East Caicos, with 1,407 acres, over 12,000 pristine feet of beach front with gently sloping ridge and water to water coverage, at a compelling value, before the proposed development plans are formally announced and underway.”
The European Union has identified a total of $298 million (€229 million) for overseas territories for the EDF 11, with $19 million being awarded to the TCI, $24 million to Montserrat and $18 million to Anguilla, among other UK overseas territories.