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Minister of Tourism Hon. Josephine Connolly. / Turks and Caicos Sun

TC - NEW LAWS FOR BEACH VENDORS

Government has introduced new laws to regulate vending activities on the beaches and coastal areas of Turks and Caicos Islands, in response to major challenges and concerns resulting from an upsurge of vending activity in those areas.

Commenting on the Beach and Coastal Vending Bill, Minister of Tourism Hon. Josephine Connolly said: "We believe that our beaches must be kept safe, protected and made more comfortable for all users. It is therefore imperative that we take the necessary steps to do so. This Bill is one part of a package by the government to upgrade our beaches, provide a structured avenue for vending on the beach and ensure that we manage the environment that is so important to us."

Connolly said government has given careful thought to this Bill and has considered the need to strike a balance to ensure that persons can earn a living, and simultaneously enjoy the beach freely and unencumbered.

"Over the years with the increase in tourism, there has been an escalation in the numbers in beach vending, in complaints of harassment on the beaches, in complaints of illicit behaviors, in littering on our beaches," she said.

"The Bill is intended to ensure that vending activities are within defined safe zones; this includes jet skis, selling of beach chairs etc. These vending zones will be plied by identified and uniformed vendors and service providers in a manner befitting a five-star, high end, tourism destination. It means that while beach goers can relax and have a swim along any area of the beach, vendors, persons selling items or services will have demarcated zones from which to ply their trade. This means that there will be little chance of persons getting in your way as you lie on the sand, or play with your family and friends. Vending is the only activity that will be confined to color coded zones."

Connolly said that locals and visitors alike have complained about indiscriminate vending interrupting enjoyment on the beaches.

"In this way, all will enjoy the beaches safely. Where there are no vending facilities, the government will- as it has begun to, either purchase or erect vending markets. The zoning of beaches into swim zones and selling zones will protect all users and vendors as well," Connolly stated.

"The Bill will further establish an enforcement unit that is meant to provide consistent patrolling and monitoring of beach activities. In this way we hope to not only provide security to beach users but beach vendors themselves who have complained over the years about the lack of security and law enforcement officers on the beach."

In this Bill, she added, families will be able to continue to enjoy the beaches and to have their parties. However, for larger beach parties and events, there will be need for a designated individual to be responsible for the cleanup. This, the tourism minister said, is designed to ensure that others "do not have the experience of wading through litter" after a party or an event, when persons do not restore the beach to its clean state.

"In short, this is in response to the cries from members of the public," she said.

Connolly noted that there has always been a measure of registration for larger events and parties in place.

She said that as is the case now, the Bill establishes certain fees for beach licenses.

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