The Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) says it has no plan to allow 200 Vincentians to be employed at the Sandals Beaches Resort there, as Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves announced in Parliament last week.
Gonsalves, in a ministerial statement, on Tuesday, said that his government, “ as of a few days ago” had concluded discussions with Sandals Resorts International “that will result in Sandals Resorts International employing 200 Vincentians within the coming weeks” to take up positions at a new Beaches resort in TCI.
“While this may be their plan, it is certainly not the plan of this government when we have so many Turks and Caicos Islanders who are out of work presently,” Arlington Musgrove, TCI’s minister of Immigration, Citizenship, Labour and Employment Services said, on Monday.
“I can assure you that we have not had any discussions along these lines and in the event, we do, we will always look out for the betterment of our people first,” Musgrove further said in a press statement.
The minister’s statement came following the circulation of a WhatsApp message saying that 200 Vincentian nationals would be employed at the Beaches resort there.
“In reviewing the message, it speaks of a possible attachment of Beaches personnel at their various resorts to gain the requisite knowledge and skills to return to St. Vincent, to work at the newly acquired resort once it is completed and ready for opening,” Musgrove said.
The minister said that the workers are to be placed at their various properties on a temporary basis.
“With that being said, we must also look at a reciprocal arrangement for our people, so they too can benefit from such an exchange, where they would leave the Turks and Caicos Islands and be posted on a temporary basis at other Sandals Beaches properties, to further enhance their overall growth and development.”
Musgrove said that the TCI government would arrange a meeting with Beaches TCI to discuss the matter further, after which the public would be updated.
“In his ministerial statement last week, Gonsalves said that the expectation is that “the Vincentian workers will gain experience and familiarity with the Beaches brand and standards and that they will eventually rotate back through the various Sandals properties until they are redeployed to Beaches Buccament Bay, when that resort is completed”.
Sandals Resorts International has bought the former Buccament Bay Resort and will convert it to a Beaches Resort.
Gonsalves said that the management of Sandals had noted that there was a new government in the TCI “and they are working with them on matters related to work permits and the like”.
The finance minister said that Sandals would be coming to St. Vincent and the Grenadines in mid to late April to conduct interviews with a view to deploying this Vincentian hospitality staff to TCI in advance of the upcoming tourism high season.
He said that Sandals expects to have these Vincentian workers in place in June-July
“… and we look forward to that,” Gonsalves said and thanked Sandals “for working with us as cooperatively as they have to seeking opportunities for hospitality workers and in crafting this win-win situation for some 200-plus hospitality workers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.
He said that advertisements for the interviews and other application processes will be in newspapers in the upcoming weeks.