#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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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
Omicron results in 267,000 case record for USA, eclipsing even Delta
By Dana Malcolm
#USA, December 31, 2021 – The US has broken its record for most daily coronavirus cases with a massive 267,000 cases recorded on Tuesday. The information was courtesy of data prepared by the New York Times about infection rates.
The Omicron variant now accounts for more than half of the cases in the country.
Information the Times released said, “The country is averaging more than 260,000 new cases a day, surpassing the peak levels from last winter. Infection rates are especially high in parts of the Northeast and Midwest. Though breakthrough infections are common with Omicron, scientists say vaccinated people, especially those who have received booster shots, have protection against severe cases and death.”
Despite the steep increase there is a silver lining. The same data that shows the increase also shows that hospitalizations and deaths remain at a steady rate and that rate is much lower than variants like Delta.
Amidst the drastic increase the Centers for Disease Control has slashed its recommendations for quarantine days in half, after which a COVID patient may leave quarantine without testing. There has been much controversy surrounding the issue with accusations of capitalism being slung toward the entity.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky defended the decision saying, “What we do know is about 85 percent to 90 percent of viral transmission happens in those first five days, which is why we really want people to stay home during that period of time.”
She said masks should be worn for five days after quarantine to prevent the final 10 per cent to 15 per cent of possible transmission.
Walensky did not explain the efficiency of a 10 quarantine vs the new five day quarantine or say if this was expected to lead to an uptick in cases.
Deadly Salad Mix Recall in US; TCI seems unaffected
By Shanieka Smith
#December 24, 2021 – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been investigating an outbreak related to packaged salads that have killed about three people, and 22 have been hospitalised due to fears over Listeria infection.
Recalls were made in Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Indiana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, and Massachusetts.
The brands recalled are Fresh Express, Bowl & Basket, Giant Eagle, Little Salad Bar, Marketside, O Organics, Signature Farms, Simply Nature, Weis Fresh from the Field, and Wellsley Farms Organic.
The CDC advised that anyone who has purchased the recalled items should discard them and properly sanitise their refrigerators to avoid contracting the associated bacteria called listeria.
Listeria may cause headaches, stiff neck, confusion, and fever.
Local grocer, Sunny Foods confirmed that the recall does not impact his store and it may be the same for others in country.
The TCI Government had not replied up to news time to a query about whether the recall affects this market.
TC Reef Fund gives a Financial & Projects Report
By Shanieka Smith
#TurksandCaicos, December 7, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, the local environmental non-profit, announced a successful fiscal year. Approximately $114,058 dollars was raised in 2021. The expenses of the organization, however, outweighed the revenues. For the fiscal year, it was about $128,984 dollars.
The largest source of revenue came from donations designated for specific projects. Nearly half of the fiscal year’s revenue came from individual donations and memberships. Don Stark, Chairman of the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, said the ongoing success of fund-raising contributed to hiring their first full-time Executive Director in 2021, Mrs. Alizée Zimmermann.
“I have been very happy to become a major part of the TCRF as the Executive Director,” said Alizée Zimmermann. “TCRF has accomplished so much since 2010 and I hope that we will continue to be a leader in environmental advocacy not only in the TCI, but also regionally. We are already considered a regional leader in the battle with SCTLD. I am also happy to say that in 2021 we have expanded our volunteer network to over 100 residents who donate their time to assist TCRF with our various projects. We could not accomplish the things we do without the support we receive from these generous volunteers.”
Since 2010, when the organization was founded, $1.4 million dollars have been raised without the government’s contribution. About $924,000, which is, 67 per cent of the money, has been used to support environmental projects in the TCI.
Its largest project, which started in 2012, is installing and maintaining dive and snorkel boat moorings. Stark said the project’s cost is now at 287 thousand dollars.
“That’s $287,000 that TCRF has essentially donated to the TCIG, since once we install a mooring in a marine park, it becomes Government property,” said Stark.
He added that over $43, 000 had been invested in education and outreach programs.
Alizée Zimmermann, Executive Director of the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, said they expanded their volunteer network to over 100 residents.
The Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease project, which dominated the expenses, came to almost $37,000. Also, moorings which were over $24,000 accounted for a large part of the project expense.
The third-largest project expense was the Smith’s Reef Rehabilitation and Improvements project. It was about $10,585 dollars for the year.
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