BTN caught up with Hon. Michael E. Misick, LLB, Chief Minister, Turks and Caicos Islands, B.W.I., back at the AHIC in May to find out what Turks and Caicos has in plan over the coming months as the five star product continues to rapidly expand to increasing demand. Turks and Caicos is the in word in the Caribbean at present and owing to this CTN is re-running this exclusive interview.BTN: What new initiatives have you launched recently in Turks and Caicos?
MM: We have a number of new hotels which are under construction. We are very pleased to say that we have the first Aman resort being built in Turks and Caicos - the first in the Caribbean. Also we have a new Ritz Carlton that is under construction. The Aman will be open in November of 2005.
BTN: What is Turks and Caicos doing here at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference?
MM: We are here for a number of reasons. First we are here to promote Turks and Caicos as a safe place to invest in the hotel sector. Secondly there is a buzz about Dubai and all the development that are taking place - as the Minister who is responsible for investment in tourism as well as Chief Minister - I wanted to come here first hand and see what is happening and see whether we can learn from their experience. Turks and Caicos is an upmarket destination. We are not interested in mass tourism and we want to see what is happening in Dubai - we are very impressed with the investment here and what is happening.
BTN: I notice you are the only Caribbean Island in attendance. Are the other Caribbean Islands showing an interest in the developments here in Dubai?
MM: I don’t know but I do think that as many persons in Caribbean tourism and Caribbean hospitality should come to see what is happening here because potentially they could be one of our potential investors.
[image2_left] BTN: What is your opinion on some of the projects here?
MM: They are all very impressive, including The World and The Palm. It is amazing what money can do. I was very impressed with the level of modern infrastructure, high end hotels and properties that are in Dubai and it certainly shows how much a vision has completely transformed Dubai from a desert into a modern tourism destination.
BTN: How will these developments in Dubai impact tourism worldwide?
MM: This is going to add Dubai on the map as a worldwide tourism destination. It has the potential to compete with the Caribbean, but our core market is North America which is close to the Caribbean and Americans are still a bit sceptical about the region in relation to safety, so in the medium term it’s not going to have a tremendous impact, but long term if the region stabilises, it might. But, tourism is the fastest growing business in the world and the markets are improving tremendously. World Travel Organisation estimated that by 2010, there will be close to 100 million Chinese travelling, so there is sufficient business for all the regions.
BTN: Is the construction going to put tourists off travelling to Dubai?
MM: Most tourists realise that Dubai is in its construction phase. There is no visible nuisance of the work that is going on.
BTN: Can you comment on the AHIC?
MM: I think that the AHIC has been a success. I would certainly like to congratulate the organisers on what has been a well planned event. There are a lot of very senior people from the hotel industry from around the world - Marriott, Le Meridien, 4 Seasons and investors - here, so it is a very well planned event. I think that the outcome will be that more hotel companies will have a spotlight on Dubai and by extension the region and also it’s an opportunity for investment to flow whether it is in or out of the region.