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Wild Rose MP chair round table on international tourism initiatives

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014 12:28 pm

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Airdrie Wild Rose MP Blake Richards chaired the May 26 roundtable discussion on tourism initiatives in Ottawa with representatives from the Turk and Caicos Islands.

Dr. Rufus Ewing, premier of Turks and Caicos, and members of his official delegation, took part in the meeting.

Canadian Tourism Minister Maxime Bernier and Western Economic Diversification Minister Michelle Rempel were also present.

“Canada and Turks and Caicos have much in common thanks in part to our shared history,” said Richards.

“Today, many Canadian tour operators are hard at work in this region, expanding our shared tourism sector.”

Richards, as chair of the Parliamentary Tourism Caucus, was asked by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to lead the talks, which took place immediately prior to the prime minister’s meeting with Ewing.

“Seeking new opportunities is important; tourism plays a significant role in both of our economies, affording jobs, growth, and future prosperity for our citizens,” he said.

The meeting sparked rumors over discussion of annexation between the two parties for the islands to become Canada’s 11th province.

The idea has been presented three times before and has been rejected by both Britain - of which the islands are a British Overseas Territory - and Canada.

The charge has been led by Conservative MP Peter Goldring since 2004, but Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told reporters that the talks would focus on tourism opportunities and not the annexation of land.

The Turks and Caicos islands are an archipelago near the Bahamas and are known primarily for tourism and as an offshore financial centre.

The total population is about 31,500, of whom 23,769 live in the Caicos Islands.

Following discussion with Richards, Harper and Ewing presided over the grand opening of a new Turks and Caicos tourism office in Toronto.


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