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Crisis Offers Big Change to Upgrade Caribbean Tourism Product, says Chief

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MIAMI (April 21, 2020) – Frank Comito, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) chief executive, told the world press how the Caribbean hospitality sector and destinations were marshaling their crisis management experience to be able to bounce back stronger and better once the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis has subsided.

Speaking on a Zoom link from Miami on a recent Foreign Press Association (FPA) webinar, Frank Comito, CEO and Director General of CHTA, commended resort owners for using the opportunity to refresh their offerings and facilities and train staff on advanced aspects of the sector – albeit at a social distance – while the region remains closed to new visitors.

Frank Comito, CEO, CHTA

Host and FPA President Ian Williams expanded on Comito’s insightful remarks and invited him to explain the measures the tourism sector and governments were taking to protect the workers in the industry and to preserve and develop their skills. 


Comito described the initiatives which CHTA, working in partnership with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), put in place since January. The measures built upon previous efforts to address health threats with training, information sharing, and signing up hotels to participate in an online health monitoring platform which was developed several years ago by the health agency.

Offering words of optimism, he pointed to research coming out of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and Oxford Economics research following the 2017 hurricanes showing that the Caribbean tourism sector recovered to pre-hurricane levels faster than anticipated, after returning with a new and improved product.

The CHTA chief told international reporters attending the virtual press conference that the Caribbean tourism sector had a proven ability to rebound strongly from adversity, after developing resilience from experiences including 9/11, Zika, hurricanes, chikungunya, volcano eruptions and earthquakes. “The data clearly shows we bounced back better and stronger … there’s every reason to believe we will be resilient once again,” he stated.

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He urged tourism stakeholders to take advantage of COVID-19 resources set up by CHTA to contain the spread of the virus in the region, and laid out on the CHTA COVID-19 Resource Center at www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com/covid-19/, which covers everything from readiness to handling cancellations. He reinforced the important role which the Caribbean will play in restoring wellness and well-being as many look to refresh and ‘get back to nature’ once the pandemic subsides.
In thanking Comito for his insights, FPA President Williams agreed that “we’ll need the Caribbean to recuperate after months of confinement,” and proposed hosting a future webinar from a beach in the Caribbean.

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Caribbean News

CDB Approves Millions for Regional Improvement such as Health, Education and Poverty

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer 

#RegionalDevelopment#CDB, February 28th, 2024 – Projects for the improvement of water, renewable energy, education, health as well as budgetary support for governments in the region, are being financed with an approved USD$461 million by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). Included in the approval are The Bahamas with USD$125 million and Saint Lucia with 43 million. Additionally, as announced in a release from the Bank, climate resilience and poverty reduction will also be prioritized through the funding. 

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Caribbean News

Ali Addresses the Issue of Violent Music in the Region

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#CaribbeanMusic#Violence#IrfaanAli, February 28th, 2024 – “As Leaders of this region, we have to take this situation very seriously, and ensure the lyrics of the region, is the lyrics of Bob Marley, the lyrics of positivity and the lyrics of positive living and positive change,” said the president of Guyana Irfaan Ali at the 46th CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting on February 25th, addressing the issue of violent music in the Caribbean region and the influence it has on people’s action.

 

He speaks against violent lyrics, adding that the region is more than capable of producing music that positively influences people. 

 

According to the American Psychological Association, in reference to a study published in the journal of Personality and Social Psychology, violent  lyrics are linked to increased negative emotions and thoughts that can lead to aggression.

 

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Caribbean News

Saunders “surprised” by move to Backbench; promises to address the nation this week

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 28, 2023 – Surprise was one of the main emotions rolling off of  E. Jay Sauders, All Island Elected Member, when he spoke to Magnetic Media Tuesday afternoon. The brief phone interview came only minutes after he confirmed to the media around 3 p.m. that he had been removed from his post as Deputy Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands by Washington Misick, TCI Premier. 

“I am a bit surprised– I sit here at the pleasure of the Premier, the Premier acted in a certain way and it is his right to decide who he wants and doesn’t want in his cabinet and that’s the position that he took.”

The biggest question now is who will replace Saunders as the Premier’s right hand man, Magnetic Media spoke to a high-profile source around 3:30 pm who told us: “The Premier hasn’t made a decision in that regard as yet so there’s nothing yet to announce.” 

It’s likely, the source told us, that the Premier will take on the Ministry of Finance himself, having had experience with that ministry in the past. 

Sure enough minutes after that conversation a press release came from the Office of the Premier announcing that he is the new Minister of Finance, Investment and Trade; the statement also bid Saunders goodbye.

I wish to thank Honourable Saunders for his service these past three years as my Deputy and for his stewardship in the ministries he served,” Misick said.

It comes as no surprise to residents however and a firestorm of comments followed the announcement,

“This is so wrong!!!” said one resident. 

It was a sentiment fielded by Magnetic Media over a dozen times.

“He is running this country and this party with his silly feelings.  And with Washy age, he need to relax himself.”

Another predicted, “This will hurt the PNP in the next election for sure, plus with the current conflict of interest matter pending with Washy and the Integrity Commission, this was not the best move at this time for him to be both Premier and Minister of Finance.”

The booting is the second high-profile shuffle in the Washington Misick-led PNP Administration following the removal of Akierra Missick, Elected Member for Leeward from her post as Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development in 2023. 

That shakeup went totally without explanation, similarly, no explanation has come from the Premier’s office this time either, but it follows a leadership challenge at the party’s national convention just days prior. 

Saunders had attempted to go against Misick for the head of the PNP party but could not get enough votes to push the challenge through. 

As a former CEO of DigicelTCI, E. Saunders initially served as the Health and Human Services minister as the country clawed its way back to health after a brutal Coronavirus Pandemic.  He was then appointed, by Misick, to the ministry for Finance, Investment and Trade, setting and achieving lofty goals including the achievement of a $400 million yearly revenue two years into his tenure and the removal of the Turks and Caicos from the EU Blacklist of non-compliant tax jurisdictions. 

Now with one year left before a new general election is called, Saunders, in his own words, will join the rest of the backbench of politicians. 

Also feeling the “stick” is reported to be Jas Walkin, the man Washington Misick appointed to lead his winning general election campaign in 2021.  Walkin had put his name forward for party leader but hurriedly withdrew it. Reports of a suspension have been shared via social media with residents expressing disdain at the possibility.

The consensus from many, they’re not surprised and also not happy about the removal of Jas. 

For now, Saunders is focused on moving, 

“Depending on how quickly I can get through the packing up of my office, I’ll do a Public Address tomorrow, but no later than Wednesday,” he promised. 

The demotion also means a significant pay cut for Saunders from the Deputy Premier’s $175,000 base salary and $60,000 in allowances to the $97,000 base salary and $10,200 in allowances which is paid out to Members of the House of Assembly, where he will continue to serve as an All Island Elected member.

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