Business

Keeping an Eye on TCI

Island Eye-TV gives visitors the “inside scoop” on the Islands.

By Kathy Borsuk ~ Photos By Renau Destine

 

You know it. When visiting any new place, especially a new country, most of us want the “insider’s view” of where to stay, what to do, the best places to eat and shop, the historical and cultural background. Thanks to Island Eye-TV, Turks & Caicos visitors (and residents) have a 24/7 source of just that information.

For the past nine years, Island Eye-TV’s video magazine has aired on local cable WIV, now Digicel Play. The entire program is 1 1/2 hours long, and runs continuously on Channel 5. Currently, it has over 20 professionally produced segments on the latest and best places for lodging, dining, recreation, shopping, and nightlife throughout the Turks & Caicos Islands, along with tidbits on culture and history. Many of the country’s resorts, hotels, and villas tune their televisions to the channel when guests check in, and it often plays as background during much of their stay.

The segments are colorful, lively, and feature interviews with local hoteliers, chefs, captains, proprietors, artists, doctors, and Islanders. One of my favorites is an interview with elderly Blue Hills boat builder James Dean, his tale is punctuated with sweeping strokes of a wood plane as he works on his latest handmade sloop. Another notable piece is that where Ramez Hakoura, owner of TCI Waste Disposal Services, explains why he will never be satisfied with recycling efforts until everyone is participating. Segments on local charities, including the E.G. Gartland Youth Centre and Potcake Place, are also included.

Island Eye-TV crew shoots an informative segment.

Island Eye-TV crew shoots an informative segment.

Island Eye-TV is the brainchild of Donna Davis, an American video producer. She first came to the Turks & Caicos in 2004 to shoot a mini documentary for Projetech on the West Caicos Reserve project that was just starting. Donna recalls arriving to her suite at Royal West Indies on this her first trip to the Caribbean. “It was one of those perfect days, with the ocean sparkling in the sun . . . and I was spellbound. That, and my subsequent trips to West Caicos, grabbed my soul and from then, the Islands became a part of me.”

During her visits, Donna noticed that visitors were always asking about “what to do” and “where to go.” She felt that a high-quality program that would help visitors learn more about what to do when they got here would be a great way to promote the Islands’ best service providers. So she pitched the idea to Peter Stubbs, then managing director at WIV, and he said, “Let’s do it.” Donna gives credit to the show’s very first sponsors — Grace Bay Club and Big Blue — and her other major sponsor, The Hartling Group, for taking the risk and helping her get the show off the ground. Donna adds, “After we got their support and participation, others came.”

The goal is to “tell little stories” and be informative and interesting rather than advertorial in nature. Donna carefully blends a mixture of businesses for a variety of aspects, and tries not to include too many competitors. Sponsors purchase one-year subscriptions, for which there are no initial production fees. Each segment runs about 20 times in 24 hours, ensuring maximum exposure.

When I asked Donna, “How do you know people are watching?,” she says so often the sponsors tell her that guests are constantly saying, “I saw you (or that) on TV!” She says she must truly believe that the businesses she features are the best at what they do to maintain credibility for the entire show. Therefore, she carefully selects those she asks to become sponsors of the show.

Future plans include producing a half-hour show called Island Eye TV that will be broadcast on a Caribbean lifestyle network called OneCaribbean TV. The program will air Thursdays at 8 PM. This channel reaches markets in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and Toronto, as well as throughout the Caribbean. The show can also be seen at https://www.youtube.com/user/Islandeyetv. The goal is to give Turks & Caicos as much exposure as possible and give visitors a chance to learn about the country prior to their arrival in paradise.

As for Donna? She spends most of her time in Providenciales and is thoroughly enjoying her Caribbean dream. She produces similar shows for Anguilla and the Cayman Islands, but I can tell she keeps her eye on the Turks & Caicos.

For more information, visit www.islandeyetv.com.



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Hobbyist photographer and Assistant Director for Research & Development at the TCI Department of Environment & Coastal Resources Dr. Eric F. Salamanca took this rare photo of a Bahama Woodstar hummingbird enjoying the nectar of Moringa flowers.

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