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CHTA warns, some Caribbean Hotels could collapse due to monies owed

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#MIAMI (May 13, 2020) – Citing the unprecedented pressures facing Caribbean hotels and resorts because of the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) called on those international tour operators which have delayed paying hotels for services delivered to the operators’ clients as early as January to expedite reimbursements.

Exuma Swimming Pig, The Bahamas

Frank Comito, CEO and Director General of CHTA, in a letter to major trade organizations representing the bulk of tour operators that do business with the Caribbean, asserted that 69 percent of hotels report that they have not been receiving timely reimbursements from tour operators for services provided during the first quarter of 2020. The average amount owed to hotels by tour operators is US$219,000 per hotel, “with a number of hotels reporting outstanding amounts in excess of $1 million and one hotel being out-of-pocket $15 million,” Comito reported.


Frank Comito, CEO and Director General of CHTA

Noting the global crisis was threatening the survival of many Caribbean properties, particularly the small- and mid-sized independent properties, which are a staple element of tour operators’ business, Comito wrote: “We have become alarmed in recent weeks to learn of the extent to which some of your member tour operators are withholding reimbursements to hotels for services which were rendered as early as January and into February and March.”

Acknowledging hotels had been advised to expect reimbursement to take an average of 60 additional days, and as long as 120 days, from certain tour operators who cited staff shortages, high demand, and reduced cash flow as primary reasons for delays, Comito pointed out that “these payments were made to the tour operator by consumers, often many months in advance and were to be held in trust for payment to hotels shortly after the delivery of the services.” 

Comito requested the international tour operator associations help CHTA by “reaching out to your member operators who work with the Caribbean urging them to make every effort to expedite their obligation to reimburse Caribbean hotels for services which have been rendered.”

Turks and Caicos Islands

The CHTA chief said he understood the dilemma facing all in the travel industry, but he stressed “the reimbursement of funds which were collected from the consumer far in advance and are obligated should take priority.” 
Inferring the survival of Caribbean hotels was threatened, Comito warned that the consequences of contributing to the demise of some Caribbean hotels “will also be long-term for your members and the reputation of the sector, having already impacted the ability of many Caribbean hotels to meet their own financial obligations to employees, vendors and Government for taxes owed related to past activity.”

Barbados

Stressing the interdependence of Caribbean hotels and tour operators, Comito reminded the recipients of CHTA’s letter that the association had been a longstanding resource for many tour operators working to develop their Caribbean portfolio: “Through our B2B marketing efforts, advocacy work, and reach to our 33 member destinations and hundreds of properties, we’ve helped to create an environment which has supported the growth of your members’ business into the region.”

Looking to future cooperation, Comito asked the associations to rein in some tour operators which are considering “one-sided attempts to revise future contracts as they seek new rate and payment terms, already asking for deep discounts which are difficult to provide in an extremely high-cost/low-revenue operating environment.”

The business relationships developed by tour operators with Caribbean hoteliers over many years had been key to their mutual success, and Comito voiced the hope to maintain and build upon those relationships as the world emerges from this crisis. “This will require give and take by all parties,” he stated.

St Lucia

CHTA confirms that correspondence has been transmitted to major trade associations representing tour operators in Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Press Release, May 3, 2020

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TCI Hospital’s Magnetic Resonance Imagining (MRI) upgrade is on schedule

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#TurksandCaicos, June 16, 2022 – InterHealth Canada Turks and Caicos Islands Hospital will soon have a new GE SIGNA™ 1.5T Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine, a development expected to significantly reduce wait times for patients visiting the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre.

First, the existing scanner was de-installed and required a crane to deposit the 20,000 pounds machine from the radiology department through a specially-cut hatch at the side waiting room wall for the safe navigation and removal of the old machine.

An intensive undertaking also included removing and replacing the RF Cage, which paves the way for quick installation of the new machine. The TCI Hospital’s RF Cage, which prevents radio frequency noise from entering the room and distorting the image of the MRI scan, is already on-site and is scheduled for installation by the end of June 2022 by the installation team from the United States. The works include the construction of the side walls, panelling, ceiling, illuminated picture and connections to ventilation.

In preparation for the day of delivery of the new MRI Machine by early July 2022, the TCI Hospital have also completed all electrical works.

The next step is the safe installation and connection of all components of the unit by GE contractors, followed by the final internal and external finishes, including the installation of fixtures and fittings such as coil storage cabinets and external cupboards and furniture. Once these last finishing touches are completed and checks completed, the MRI will be operational in early August 2022.

The radiology team have spent the past several months working in a much-reduced space to allow building work in preparation for the new MRI. In addition, the Imaging team have also undergone training and certifications in new software applications and MRI safety, with the IM&T and Biomedical Engineering teams to follow. All staff at the TCI will undergo safety MRI training.

The TCI Hospital is grateful for the support and understanding of the public and TCI Hospital colleagues during the disruption caused by this critical upgrade to the MRI Unit at the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre.

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Major Shortage; White House says hunt is on for Baby Food

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, May 14, 2022 – An Infant formula shortage in the U.S. exacerbated by the formula recall by Abbott Nutrition is  threatening the lives of babies and worrying parents.

Last week 40 percent of  formulas were out of stock in the U.S. White House Press Secretary Jen Pesaki says the FDA is working hard to address the issue.

“What the FDA is doing includes working with major infant formula manufacturers to ensure they’re increasing production, because part of this issue is, of course, making sure there is stock on the shelves and working with the industry right now to optimize their supply lines, product sizes to increase capacity, and prioritizing product lines that are of greatest needs.”

Meanwhile Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) which provides formula and other goods to low income mothers is warning against trying to make formula at home saying too much could go wrong.

“Your baby could suffer long-term harm if they do not get the right blend of nutrition. Even a short period of poor nutrition can be harmful.  Do not try to make more formula by adding extra water. Adding extra water to formula is dangerous and can lead to very serious health problems.”

The Guardian reports that parents who are now traveling over state lines and using Facebook and EBay  to secure formula, describe the situation as a ‘nightmare.’

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Earth Day Immersion at Graceway Communities Marketplace  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, May 12, 2022 – The second staging of Graceway IGA’s Earth Day celebration was a success. It was hosted by the Graceway Communities (the philanthropic arm of Graceway Supermarkets) in association with the National Trust, Graceway Supermarkets, Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) and Department of Agriculture.

The Market was designed to educate people about the environment, promote conservation, and encourage them to get involved and invest in the planet, act boldly, innovate and implement.

The event was supported by the community and others who came out in their numbers to buy fruits, seedlings, trees, plants, and other earth-friendly items, like ocean-friendly products that were being sold.

The winners of the Graceway Supermarkets Earth Day Art Competition 2022 were also announced. In first place was Chanel Missick from the Mills Institute, second place was Enarij Dickenson from Eliza Simmons Primary, and third place was Mavalicia Mullings from the Mills Institute.

Minister of Environment, Maritime and Disaster Management Josephine Connelly was also present at the celebration.

In giving her address at the event on April 22, Connelly said climate change is real and the Turks and Caicos Islands are low lying areas. As such, “we are susceptible to flood and high seas.” Therefore “the necessary mechanisms must be put in place to cope with what’s going on in our country.”

The Minister noted that the Charter launched at the Climate Change Summit is a guideline to mitigate what is happening in the TCI. She further mentioned that the TCI will be collaborating with all stakeholders and international organizations to unite as one where climate change is concerned.

Minister Connelly congratulated Graceway IGA for hosting the celebration, noting that they should continue to do this because “it is good for us.”

She also encouraged everyone to play their part in Climate Change, stating that the easiest thing to do is to plant a tree.

Travel Designer at Luxury Experiences Turks, and Caicos, Val Kalliecharan, was also present at the Earth Day celebration. He said the initiative was impressive, and Graceway Supermarkets should “keep up the good job.”

The Turks and Caicos National Trust were the charity participant in the Earth Day celebrations.

The Trust expressed its gratitude to the Graceway Supermarkets for partnering with the organization’s mission to protect our environment.

“We are honoured for this recognition and most charitable donations that will help us to continue our important works, entrusted to us by our communities, we implore you to visit our website and become members of TCNT. More importantly, please contact us and find out how you can help us to preserve and protect our Wetlands, our environment and our beautiful by nature TCI,” said the Turks and Caicos National Trust.

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