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World Travel Guide > Guides > Caribbean > Turks and Caicos Islands

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Turks and Caicos Islands: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Turks and Caicos Islands

The informal, relaxed atmosphere of the island prevails even in business circles. That said, a formal style of address rather than first names may be preferable on first acquaintance. A lightweight suit is advised.

Office Hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1630.

Economy

Since salt mining went into decline in the mid-1960s, and finally ceased during the 1990s, the Turks and Caicos Islands have relied on tourism, fishing and offshore financial services for most of their income.

There is little agriculture, but the sizeable fishing industry is both a major contributor to the islands' food requirements, and a valuable export earner - particularly from the USA, which buys much of the catch. The only other notable industry is construction, which is largely geared towards improving tourism infrastructure.

In the mid-1980s, measures were introduced by the government to attract an offshore financial services industry, and these have met with reasonable success. Unfortunately, it brought laundered money and illicit capital fleeing from elsewhere. Under pressure from London and, more publicly, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the government introduced a tighter regulatory structure in an attempt to prevent fraud and money laundering.

Meanwhile, the government has refocused on tourism as the key to the islands' future economic well-being. The sector is now the main source of revenue, worth in excess of US$500 million to the islands' economy, contributing around 47% of the total GDP in 2011. Tourism is dominated by visitors from the USA who make up around two thirds of the total. Despite receipts from tourism and the financial service, some aid from the >UK is provided to assist in various areas, such as government administration, environmental protection, and to fund capital projects.

GDP

US$559 million (2011).

Main exports

Lobster, dried and fresh conch, and conch shells.

Main imports

Foods and beverages, tobacco, clothing, manufactured goods and construction materials.

Main trading partners

UK and USA.

Keeping in Touch in Turks and Caicos Islands

Telephone

There is a good communications network run by Cable & Wireless, with automatic exchange on all the islands. The local telephone directory lists charges for international calls. There is a 10% tax on all calls. Public card-phones are in operation on all the islands; phonecards are available from Cable & Wireless and outlets near phone booths. Cheap rates are in operation Mon-Fri 1900-0600 and Sat-Sun all day.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with international mobile phone companies.

Internet

Public access is available in Internet kiosks located at the airport and in Internet cafés around the islands.

Media

Newspapers Turks & Caicos Free Press, Turks & Caicos Sun and The Turks & Caicos Weekly News are published weekly. The Times of the Islands, a showcase for the islands' culture and environment, is published quarterly. Where, When, How is a travel magazine which appears regularly. Turks and Caicos Television is the islands' only TV station; broader-based cable and satellite TV are available, and stations from the Bahamas can be picked up. In addition to the government-run Radio Turks and Caicos, there are a few local music radio stations.

Post

The General Post Office is on Grand Turk, with sub-offices on North Caicos, South Caicos and Providenciales. Airmail to Western Europe takes five days.

Post Office hours

Mon-Thurs 0800-1600, Fri 0800-1530.