The Turks and Caicos Islands, after a long period of contemplation, have finally decided to switch from Eastern Standard Time (EST) to Atlantic Standard Time (AST) in order to boost an economy that is heavily related to tourism. The move will take place Sunday, when all residents will be advised to move their clocks forward one hour.
Time zone switching happens more often than one might think. Quintana Roo, for example, also made the switch – from Central Standard Time to Eastern Standard Time – for the same reason: to provide tourists with an extra hour of sunshine. The Turks and Caicos Islands are now hoping for the same positive outcome on the tourism front in light of the change.
Tourism is a big deal in a lot of places, but this is especially the case in resorts and beach areas. Currently, Atlantic Standard Time is used by the eastern Caribbean islands, as well as Maritime Provinces – both of which are popular sites among tourists.
Peak periods of tourism occur during the winter months when everyone is looking to escape the cold wind and snow. With the older format in Eastern Standard Time, the sun in the Turks and Caicos Islands subsides at 5 p.m. Thus, the new change should be welcomed by the majority of travelers, although maybe not immediately.
Shipping and airline companies were warned and prepped in advance for the change, but tourists looking forward to their pre-planned itineraries were not and are now are left scrambling to accommodate – or rather, planners and managers are left to accommodate, as tourists are possibly seeking alternate destinations.
There are several flight and transfer changes that have to be made, but possibly the worst scenario involves any pre-planned sunset weddings, which will have to be completely updated to accommodate the newer schedule.
Aside from major tourists woes, those that work directly in the travel industry will also be affected greatly, especially when dealing with the multiple time zones on a daily basis. However, the change is necessary in regions where the tourism industry makes up a large percentile of the economy.
On a related note, Spain is also considering a time zone change, although not for the sake of tourism, but rather, to yield better productivity from its workers.