A group called the Turks and Caicos Islanders United for Justice and Equality has been staging demonstrations in Providenciales, the tourism capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), and in Grand Turk, to address concerns they raised with the interim government. Among their demands are elections by year-end and an end to direct British rule. Tourism officials in the islands are trying to assure visitors that their safety is assured, despite residents’ protests that have blocked the main access road to the territory’s main airport. The officials insist that the protests are peaceful demonstrations that have not disturbed the main tourism areas.
The demonstrations have been taking place about half mile from the Providenciales International Airport and the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association (TCHTA), the TCI Tourist Board and the TCI Airports Authority have had to identify and alternate access route to allow people to travel quickly to and from the airport. However, a statement from the TCHTA said that “the demonstration has not compromised the safety of TCI’s visitors and residents and the Turks and Caicos Islands remains a very safe and well-sought after destination.” TCHTA President Karen Whitt noted that all the tourism agencies are working with the interim government on the matter and all businesses in the islands continue to function as normal.
British Governor Gordon Wetherell has pleaded with the demonstrators to stop blocking the airport access road, explaining that “Protestors have the right to peaceful demonstration, but they must also respect the rights of others, including that of access to the Airport Road. Not only is blocking it illegal, it is also damaging to the TCI’s tourist industry causing hardship to local businesses and the many individuals employed in the industry.” He added, “The Turks and Caicos Airport Authority have confirmed that flights are operating as normal. However, it remains important that the main access route to the airport should be reopened as soon as possible, and I hope that this can be done without police intervention.”
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