What’s Happening in Turks & Caicos, the Top Trending International Destinationby Daniel McCarthy /
Last month, Turks & Caicos was ranked as the top trending destination for the fall by TripAdvisor, which released its list of the top 15 destinations by year-over-year growth among American travelers in the TripAdvisor search engine between June 1 and June 30.
The destination was the only Caribbean destination in the Top 15 and beat out other hot destinations including Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, which ranked second, London, which ranked fourth, Bangkok, which ranked fifth, and more.
According to Mary Lightbourne, the Deputy Director of Tourism, the destination is gaining interest among international travelers because of its natural beauty and ability to cater to all kinds of travelers.
“Turks and Caicos is one the world’s most beautiful destinations, which is reason enough to visit. Not to mention we truly have something for everyone – whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, adventure-packed vacation, spa escape, or foodie weekend, our islands appeal to all types of travelers at any budget,” she told TMR.
For travelers who are unaware, Turks & Caicos is a British Overseas Territory, one of many in the Caribbean and Americas alongside Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, and more. It is comprised of 40 different islands and cays. Just nine of those are inhabited, with each one of the nine having its own unique flavor.
“Between these nine, each individual island is so distinct and unique when it comes to the feel, authenticity, cuisine, activities, and history, which makes the destination very special,” Lightbourne said.
“For example, Providenciales is a home to famed ‘Grace Bay Beach’ where our gorgeous five-star resorts and exceptional restaurants reside, whereas Grand Turk is known for its historical depth and rustic charm. We also have smaller, private islands such as Salt Cay, which is only around 2 square miles, but has some of the most stunning Bermudian architecture and the best beaches for whale watching.”
Current COVID Requirements
Right now, the only requirement to enter Turks and Caicos Islands is that travelers over the age of 18 must show proof of vaccination.
“Our top priority has always been the wellbeing of our community and we feel this protocol ensures their safety while making it easier for travelers to discover the destination. Given this entry requirement and that most of our population is vaccinated, we are focused on a return to normalcy. As such, all other COVID-19 protocols within the destination have been lifted,” Lightbourne told TMR.
To be considered fully vaccinated, travelers need to be 14-days out from receiving the second, or final, dose of a World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccine. Proof of vaccination can be shown either through a digital certificate or a vaccine card.
Turks & Caicos had previously required inbound travelers to apply for travel authorization, provide evidence of a negative test, complete a health screening questionnaire, and show proof of travel insurance. All those requirements are now gone.
Tourism Numbers and Top Attractions
Just as search traffic for Turks & Caicos continues to increase, so do actual tourism numbers, which are trending to be the highest for the destination.
During the first quarter of the year, the destination recorded 138,762 air arrivals and 173,151 cruise arrivals, which represented 98% of the same period in 2019. According to Lightbourne, those numbers are trending better in the coming weeks and months.
“This truly was one of the strongest tourism recoveries in the region and we are on pace to continue increasing arrivals in the coming weeks and months,” she said.
Aside from the Trending award from TripAdvisor, Turks & Caicos is also home to Grace Bay Beach. That beach, located on the northern coast of the island of Providenciales, offers more than seven miles of white sand coast next to clear turquoise water, creating the kind of scene that the Caribbean is known for.
At the same time that Turks was honored as the top trending destination, Grace Bay was honored as the world’s best beach by TripAdvisor.
“Not only was Turks and Caicos just named the #1 trending destination for fall by TripAdvisor, but we’re also home to the “World’s Best Beach”, Grace Bay Beach! It’s won a number of awards and accolades over the years, most recently being the 2022 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards,” Lightbourne said.
Part of the reason why Turks has always been such a popular destination for North American travelers was the short flight from some of the largest U.S. and Canadian cities—service from New York is just three hours while flights from Florida run under two hours into Providenciales International Airport.
There are direct flights available into Providenciales from 11 different North American cities, including Washington D.C., New York, Montreal, Miami, and Toronto. Internationally, British Airways offers the only trans-Atlantic flights, which include a one-hour layover in Antigua. Those flights were the most recent addition to the Turks & Caicos flight map and will start on Oct. 29.
JetBlue most recently suspended its direct flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Turks and Caicos as part of a 12-route cut-out of that Florida airport.