Turks and Caicos: Country and Foreign Investment
Economy and Currency
This page was last updated on 12 Sept 2018.
TThe three pillars of the economy are tourism, fishing and financial services. Pristine beaches, excellent diving and the islands' location just 90 minutes flying time from Miami have helped the development of the tourist industry. In 2017, the total number of visitors to the islands was 4% down on the previous year at 1,244,000.
The majority of these were cruise arrivals with a total of 827,000. Out of the 416,000 land-based arrivals, more than half were Americans. Direct flights from Halifax, Nova Scotia have raised the number of Canadian arrivals. There is a small fishing industry based on the export of lobsters and crayfish to the USA.
The introduction of the Companies Ordinance 1981 is widely credited with having kick-started the development of the financial services sector. In 1989 the industry took on a more formal structure with the creation of the Financial Services Commission designed to regulate and supervise all financial services activities. The Commission is led by the financial services commissioner who is appointed by and answerable to the governor. The offshore financial services sector ranks behind tourism as the main source of income. However, the sector remains one of the key elements of the islands economy providing employment in the public and private sectors.
Due to lack of employment opportunities in the 1960s and 1970s many citizens (known locally as "Belongers") emigrated to the United States and Bahamas in search of work. However due to the growth in tourism and financial services the situation has now reversed itself with "Belongers" returning and immigrants from Haiti and the Dominican Republic providing most of the unskilled labour.
Most food and nearly all capital and consumption goods are imported. Since there are virtually no tax payable in the islands, the major sources of Government revenue include fees from offshore financial services and customs receipts on imported goods. The islands' currency is the US dollar.
The Turks and Caicos Islands recent economic success was shown by the fact that the United Kingdom stopped providing grant aid for a number of years. On 30 September 2017, the Companies Ordinance 2017 went into force. The main effect of this new Ordinance is to tighten up the insolvency rules in the jurisdiction.