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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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Canadian man charged with planning to overthrow Haitian Government

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#Canada, November 22, 2022 – The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, on November 17, announced that a Canadian man, Gérald Nicolas, has been charged with terrorism for planning a terrorist act to overthrow the Haitian government of Jovenel Moïse.

The fifty-one-year-old is set to appear at the Québec courthouse on December 1st to face three terrorism-related charges under the Canadian Criminal Code.  The charges are leaving Canada to facilitate terrorist activity, facilitating terrorist activity and providing property for terrorist purposes.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the investigation began in July 2021, and it is unrelated to the assassination of Jovenel Moïse.

According to reports by the police, Nicolas planned to stage an armed revolution in Haiti and ultimately seize power.

“It is alleged that he took concrete actions, including travelling to Haiti to coordinate a group of individuals whose intention was to take part in a coup against the established authority,” the police said.

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Privy Council rules in favour of TCI Government in South Caicos land dispute

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 22, 2022 – A 14-year old land dispute has reached its end, it seems, and the Turks and Caicos Islands Government escapes being sued for breach of contract in connection to a South Caicos property sold to private developers back in 2008.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government prevailed in the Privy Council case and has reclaimed yet another parcel of Crown Land that was sold, according to case files, in 2008 when a $100 million dollar development was proposed.

CMO BWI Ltd, also the developers for the Sail Rock resort on South, claimed the contract for the land (also) located in South Caicos was breached after an agreement and subsequent renegotiation went sour with the introduction of new law.  The developer filed a suit against the Government, saying TCIG reneged on its own agreement and aborted a perfectly legal contract.

According to case files provided at the Privy Council’s website, “CMO are the developers of property situated in South Caicos to whom the Government in 2008 granted the right to carry out a mixed-use development. The total cost of the development would be $100,000,000. The agreement included the right to restore and use, as part of the development, certain parcels of Crown land. These parcels were to be granted to the developers in the Downtown Restoration Lease at a peppercorn rent if and immediately after they had invested $2 million on Island Improvements.”

The breach, according to the complainant involved the transition from UK Direct Rule to TCI Governance in November 2012.  The new constitution now turned over Crown Land management to the Attorney General’s Chambers and established a Crown Land Recovery Unit which was charged with repossessing land sold off in allegedly ‘sketchy’ deals.

The then government, led by Michael Misick, former TCI Premier had agreed to the $100M project for South Caicos, which also roped in general improvements for the island.  CMO agreed to those terms and reportedly began investing in infrastructure enhancements just before the government they knew was gone.

UK Direct rule was imposed in 2009 and with it came a partial suspension of the TCI Constitution, locally elected and appointed leaders.

It put the project in limbo but in 2013, according to the case file, there was an amended agreement with the government which meant, “there was no longer a requirement for the Appellants to present proof of having expended $2m in order to obtain the Downtown Restoration Lease, although it was necessary for the Appellants to notify the government that they were ready to commence the island improvements.”

One day later, CMO informed the government they were ready to begin “island improvements” which meant the government had to execute the restoration lease. That did not happen however and it was nearly two more years before the TCI Government would take definitive action.  The action was to deny the Downtown Restoration Lease citing a new Crown Land Ordinance (CLO) had been written, which essentially nullified significant elements of the previous contract.

“In January 2015, TCIG gave formal notice that it would not grant the Downtown Restoration Parcels Lease, stating that it was precluded from doing so by Section 34 and Part B of Schedule 2 of the CLO with prevented it from entering into any lease unless it was at market rent, having followed the process prescribed by the CLO.”

In July 2016, the developers began proceedings in the Supreme Court which they lost and on July 11 this year, the case was heard at the Privy Council in London.

On November 3, the Privy Council maintained that the Court of Appeal was right in dismissing the Appellant’s appeal, agreeing that the contract in 2013 had canceled out the agreement in 2008 and that the 2013 agreement could not be carried out under the new TCI law.

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CARPHA, HCC and PAHO call on the Caribbean Community to “Reimagine Healthy Spaces” for Caribbean Wellness Day

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September 9, 2022 – The Caribbean Community is celebrating Caribbean Wellness Day (CWD) 2022 under the theme “Our Neighbourhood, Our Health”. In commemoration of the day, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), are calling on the region to “Reimagine Healthy Spaces” around three main themes – Active Societies, a Smoke Free Caribbean and Healthy Schools.

In a statement commemorating the occasion, Dr. Joy St John, Executive Director, CARPHA noted that, “We take this opportunity, at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, to create a renewed vision and re-commit to the practices and policies that we know support the health and wellbeing of our Caribbean people.”

Built spaces and urban planning laws can significantly impact the level of movement in society and is a crucial element in ensuring a healthier Caribbean.

“The commitment of governments towards the implementation of intersectoral public policies and programs so that all neighbourhoods have basic services, safe public transportation, areas where we can socialise, safe streets, places to walk and green spaces, is so important.” PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne said. “I want to recognize the efforts of many municipalities in the region that are working on making their municipalities healthy, responding to the needs of people, and facilitating strategies that improve the conditions of places where they are born, work, study and have fun,” she added.

Another issue to be addressed during the “Reimagine Healthy Spaces” campaign is the negative impact that cigarettes have on both public health and the environment.

Dr. St John noted that, “Millions of trees are cut down annually to produce the number of cigarettes that the industry demands to maintain profits, while cigarette butts and packaging can contribute to environmental pollution.” She asserted that, “This reimagining of a smoke-free Caribbean, that limits the negative impact of the tobacco industry on our health and our environment is necessary, not just for our own health but for the health of the next generation.”

Sir Trevor Hassell, President, Healthy Caribbean Coalition noted that “Healthy Schools are a cornerstone of our neighbourhoods and a building block of a productive society.  A Healthy school is smoke-free, promotes inclusive physical activity and is protected by healthy school policies.” He elaborated, “These policies would limit the sale and marketing of foods full of sugar, fats and salt both in and around schools, while increasing the availability of healthy foods and drinking water.”  In keeping with this, the recently launched digital campaign, ‘#ActOnFacts – The Food in Schools Matters’, encourages public and policymaker support for the introduction of policies that puts the health of our children at the centre.

Caribbean Wellness Day

Caribbean Wellness Day is celebrated each year on the second Saturday in September to address the threat posed by non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The day was originally conceived by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and is an integral part of the Port of Spain Declaration where the region united to fight the epidemic of NCDs. The event aims to increase awareness and promote activities to address non-communicable diseases including mental health issues.

The overall theme for Caribbean Wellness Day for the five year-period, 2020-2024 has been, “Power Through Collective Action”. It is this collective power that can be harnessed to affect the much-needed changes that can transform our spaces into enabling environments for a healthier Caribbean people. Collectively, the region has the power to bring the vision of a healthier Caribbean to life – one person, one neighbourhood, one nation at a time.

CARPHA, HCC and PAHO invite the public to join the celebration by visiting our social media pages to share your vision of Healthy Spaces. The campaign will feature key facts around the need for change, enable conversation in our communities and encourage our leaders to continue to build on the commitments made in the historic Port of Spain declaration.

Follow the campaign by using the hashtags: #CaribbeanWellnessDay, #CWD2022, #CWDHealthySpaces

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