Turks and Caicos Tourist Board monitoring Grand Turk Cruise Center closure
Published on March 27, 2013
By Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — The Turks and Caicos Tourist Board has assured the public that it is closely monitoring the situation in Grand Turk surrounding the closure of the Cruise Center and the subsequent cancellation of cruise line calls.
Discussions are ongoing with all the relevant local authorities and stakeholders, including the Public Health Department and the Grand Turk Cruise Center. These groups are working in close partnership to identify and address the situation as rapidly as possible.
The Carnival Cruise Center was closed down earlier this month following an outbreak on the capital island of Grand Turk of 25 cases of a sickness that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
Carnival is now excavating the sewage system at the center trying to locate the source of the problem and has told local workers that it will not reopen the port until the problem is resolved.
In the meantime, local residents said they have long been aware of what is causing the virus and sickness epidemic on the deep water capital island. Approximately two years ago it was revealed that ground adjacent to the port was saturated with sewage water. The problem, sources say, has continued and Grand Turk residents who work at the port continued to complain about the stench, which seems constant at one portion of the complex.
They have reportedly complained to government but no action has been taken. This, it seems, is due to the arrangements made when the port deal was agreed to by the previous the Progressive National Party (PNP) administration. The port ownership remains in the hands of Carnival Cruise Lines.
The cruise sector, which accounts for a majority of visitors to the Turks and Caicos Islands, is a vital cog in the tourism industry of Grand Turk and the Board said it is cognizant of the impact of those affected.
Commenting, Ralph Higgs, director of the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board, said, “We are following the situation as it unfolds and are in active discussion with the most senior executives involved in the ports operation. We understand the severity of the impact of the center’s closure not only to the local business community of Grand Turk but to those guests who have selected to visit our shores via cruise line. We understand that the stakeholders are diligently moving toward identifying the issues and re-opening the center.”