Ralph Higgs​

BACKGROUND

Ralph L Higgs is well known and respected in the Turks and Caicos Islands and abroad as a consummate tourism professional. He has had a distinguished career in the Tourism sector since 1992. In 1996 he joined the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board and has worked with the organization promoting our island destination around the world, leading to the Islands’ achievement of more accolades than ever before. However, the one thing people will tell you is that his heart is always in North Caicos and he has never forgotten where he came from. As a result of taking his first breath and spending all of his boyhood days in North Caicos, he knows the islands, the people,

the struggles and their desires quite well. Although his job took him far and wide, he has never lost touch with the people of the communities of North and Middle Caicos and has always maintained his boyhood dreams to help improve the lives of his people. Although he is widely received nationally, regionally and internationally as one of the faces of Turks and Caicos tourism, he has always sought to propel the communities of North and Middle Caicos to the forefront. Day trippers and stay over visitors are travelling to these islands in record numbers. Not only has he represented the communities well on the tourism front, but he has been one of the leaders investing heavily in the communities to create employment and improvement in the lives of the people.

Mr. Higgs can chase his North and Middle Caicos roots back for five generations. He grew up with his brothers and sisters in a humble family home in Bottle Creek. It’s no surprise that he is pursuing politics, as his grandfather Paul Higgs considered to be one of the most respected leaders of his era. It is no secret that Mr. Paul Higgs’ legacy includes being the first elected representative of the community of Bottle Creek and is among some of the first officials from the Turks and Caicos to travel to the United Kingdom to represent the country’s interest before Her Majesty’s Government. He is best known for leading the charge to prevent the Turks and Caicos from going independent in 1962 along with Jamaica and becoming an overseas parish of Jamaica. To honour Mr Paul Higgs’ contribution to his country Ralph Higgs has led the effort to build a proper office complex (Hon Paul Higgs Building) in his community of Bottle Creek. Ralph Higgs had served his country with distinction for over 20 years as one of the leaders of the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board. Following the right sizing of the Board, he became the sole director of the organization. As a result of the economic downturn and the turbulent period which followed, including the suspension of the constitution, he was able to impressively steer TCI tourism through that critical phase. With full support of his board of directors, he lead the negotiations and repayment of an inherited $9 million debt, defended the Board against multiple lawsuits locally and internationally, restructured the human resources element of the Board – reducing staff levels and streamlining the Board’s operation to fit within the 60% budget cut imposed by TCIG.

Mr. Higgs also managed and oversaw the downsizing of offices in London, Toronto and New York as a result of the budget cut. He also led the rebuttal to the recommendations made by the working group to have the Tourist Board reorganized and manned primarily by private sector entities. Through it all, he sought and received the support of his staff morale and output soared. He has also been the lead negotiator of the Tourist Board on securing new flights to and from Providenciales. Today the destination is served by all the major US and Canadian carriers, and from Europe by British Airways. In fact, the TCI is perceived in the region as having the most flights and some of the best connectivity from major gateways worldwide when compared to the size of its tourism plant and budget.

In his most recent years as director, the Turks and Caicos Islands has seen a significant increase in tourism and have received numerous leading accolades from the likes of TripAdvisor, CNN, Condé Nast, Forbes, and the World Travel Awards. Among his many achievements, Ralph Higgs became the first winner of the Caribbean Travel Award’s Tourism Director of the Year in 2014 for taking the Turks and Caicos tourism brand to new heights, helping to lead the destination to the most outstanding improvement in tourist arrivals of any destination in the Caribbean.

Always having had a knack for business, over the years Ralph Higgs has successfully founded and managed several family businesses with operations in Providenciales and North Caicos, employing eight persons.

 

ISSUES

Infrastructure Development-Beautification and Development of North and Middle Caicos

  • Build proper ferry terminal/establish Kew as gateway to North and Middle Caicos
  • Develop a mile of road (promenade) along the coast of Bottle Creek
  • Upgrade and Reopen North Caicos Airport as a FBO via Public Private Partnership (PPP)
  • Proper drainage in Kew and Bottle Creek to prevent flooding as experienced in the past
  • Link North and Middle Caicos to Providenciales via causeway

Diversification of the Local Economy in North and Middle Caicos

  • Greater investment in the agricultural sector and the farms in North and Middle Caicos. Provide incentives and tax breaks to persons who wish to enter this field
  • Subsidize transportation for produce to market
  • Rejuvenate or restart and open various stalled projects including Royal Reef, St Charles, Dellis Cay and the completion of Silver Bay and other new projects that will help to boost the local economy of North and Middle Caicos
  • Promotion of aquaculture to reduce pressure on our local fishing industry
     

Encourage increased local ownership of small and medium sized businesses in North and Middle Caicos

  • Provide special business concessions for residents and businesses in North and Middle Caicos
  • Provide incentives for local owners to build and own property which they may use to pursue business ventures via short term rental via VRBO and Airbnb, etc.
  • Create an atmosphere to attract more retirees to build and own retirement homes in North and Middle Caicos
  • Provide special business concessions for residents and businesses in North and Middle Caicos
  • Provide incentives for local owners to build and own property which they may use to pursue business ventures via short term rental via VRBO and Airbnb, etc.
  • Create an atmosphere to attract more retirees to build and own retirement homes in North and Middle Caicos

  Community Development Project

  • Build a community sporting facility for our youth
  • Construct a farmers and straw vendors market
  • Upgrade all the community centers in North and Middle Caicos with modern amenities and establish a proper facility management/maintenance plan to ensure that these facilities can be used for the betterment of the public for functions such as school and community events or shelters

Tourism Expansion 

  • The development and management of tourism attractions including Wade’s Green, Flamingo Pond, Cottage Pond, Crossing Place Heritage Trail, Conch Bar Caves, Indian Cave etc. on North and Middle Caicos which will help to attract more visitors to our communities and create employment and reduce the exodus of persons from North and Middle Caicos
  • Promote the wetlands and Ramsar areas in North and Middle Caicos as Heritage Tourism Sites
  • Construct a museum (Sisal and Sponge) in North or Middle Caicos to capture and promote local heritage and culture
 
 

Empowerment of Residents     

  • Ownership of local businesses
  • Job creation
  • Greater access to education and sporting facilities for youths
  • Technical training and support for the establishment of local businesses
     

EDUCATION 

1976-1980
North Caicos Junior High School
(Now Raymond Gardiner High School)

1980-1983
Turks and Caicos High School 

1990
Diploma (Hons.)
Travel and Tourism
CDI College, Calgary City, AB
 

1993
Certificate
Community Tourism Development
Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology

2003
Bachelor of Arts
Columbus University

2015
Certificate
Certified Chartered Director
Caribbean Governance Institute

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

1988-1989
Corporate Travel Manager
Shell Corporate Company

1990-1994
Senior Marketing Officer
Turks and Caicos Tourist Board

1996-2001                   
Deputy Director of Tourism

2001-2004
Deputy Director of Tourism (Marketing)

2004-2009
Director of Tourism (Marketing)
 
2009-2016
Director of Tourism (Sole)
 
 
 
 
 

MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

2014 - Tourism Director of the Year
World Travel Awards

Strengthened working relationship with our private sector partners including but not limited to TCHTA, Expedia etc

Oversaw the largest increase in airlifts to the TCI from our major source markets

Paid off the Tourist Boards’ approximately 9mil. debt with 4 mil from TCIG and returned the organization to solvency.

Restructuring of the organization to ensure efficiency, transparency and increase the destinationS’ brand awareness

Establishment of a successful weekly fish fry event in Providenciales

Achieved the highest level of growth in the tourism sector on the smallest budget, in the  region



 
 
 
 

WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT RALPH

"I have known Ralph Higgs since 1995.  In 1996 he was hired as the Marketing Officer for the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board under my chairmanship.  At that time Ralph lived in Canada, but it was clear to all of us involved in his hiring that he had a strong desire to return home and use his talents in the service of his country.   He was very determined to make his contribution in tourism.

Over the twenty years that I have known him, Ralph has shown great love, strength, and commitment to his family, his community and his work. He has quietly gone about life with laser focus, self-less dedication, and skill that has provided him a successful career in tourism, and as a businessman.

Ralph Higgs has developed over a lifetime of work, the character, the leadership, and the experience that makes him uniquely qualified, for his next journey in life, to represent the people of North and Middle Caicos in the House of Assembly. "

Norman Hamilton
Executive Director
NW Hamilton Insurance & Financial Services

 "I have known Ralph Higgs since 2002 and during this time I have found him to possess rare qualities that are often lacking in many persons in high positions. His work ethics, integrity, love for country and commitment to serve the people of the TCI is practically unmatched. Over the years he has represented our country with distinction and has made Turks and Caicos one of the most sought after Caribbean destinations. I have absolutely no doubt that he will be superb for the people of North and Middle Caicos and by extension the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands.   "    

Gordon Lightbourne
Business Man

"The blocks Ralph laid and the challenges overcome in developing, building, and marketing the Turks and Caicos Islands as a world class destination is now the envy of many in the region.” “Ralph’s contribution as an ambassador has no doubt left an indelible impression on us all. His leadership, experience and sound judgment will be an asset to whomever and wherever his next journey takes him.”

Don Gardiner
Chairman Turks and Caicos Tourist Board