Commentary: We do not have oil, gold, bauxite or gas but we have the best beach in the world

We do not have oil, gold, bauxite or gas but Grace Bay Beach on the Island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is considered to be the best beach in the world. Almost every year for the past couple of years, Grace Bay Beach was selected by guests, travel agents and international media outlets as the best Beach in the World. We cannot and should not take this lightly.

With that said, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the ministry of tourism headed by Ralph Higgs, the Tourist Board headed by Ramon Andrews and chaired by Norman Hamilton and the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association headed by Stacy Cox for the various activities during the entire month of November and for their efforts in promoting, protecting and maintaining our main industry.

While November is Tourism Awareness Month, all of us need to play our part in ensuring that tourism matters every day, as it is our bread and butter.

Our Bread and Butter

In 2017, there were 1,243,843 visitors to the Turks and Caicos Islands. Of the 1,243, 843 visitors, 416,434 arrived by plane while 827,409 arrived by cruise. In 2016, there were 1,300,575 visitors. Of this amount, 453,612 arrived by plane while 846,943 arrived by cruise.

As a result of these visitors, the government was able to generate accommodation tax of $59,152,185 for the year ended March 31, 2018, while the accommodation tax for the year ended March 31, 2017, was $61,544,345. In addition, the Airport Authority's overall revenue estimate for March 31, 2018 was $39,015,091. Of this amount, $14, 226,182 was departure tax. Therefore almost $100 million is generated directly from tourism.

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