CHTA warns, some Caribbean Hotels could collapse due to monies owed
#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
What’s at LJMMA? President explains snazzy equipment
#TheBahamas, March 27, 2023 – Situated on a Cay of its own, the LJM Maritime Academy (LJMMA) is the Bahamas’ only school of its kind and with sponsorships from Campbell Shipping, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Carnival Cruises, Disney Cruises, and more it boasts an extremely well-equipped campus. The Turks and Caicos Community College (TCICC) is now partnering with the LJMMA to bring those amenities to TCI students through TCICC.
Brendamae Cleare, President of the institution, joined in on a maritime stakeholder meeting introducing the partnership to the Turks and Caicos’ residents on Tuesday, March 21, detailing everything that the LJMMA had to offer.
“We have– classrooms, workshops, a bridge simulator room, a crane simulator, an engine simulator and we also have a GMDSS simulator and radar simulator as well,” she explained.
The simulator building was commissioned to the tune of $30 million and is only in phase one. Also included alongside the fancy simulators, which give students hands-on experience with the boat engines and cranes that they will work with in the future, there are temporary administrative offices, libraries, nurse’s stations and more.
Other buildings on the Cay include, a firefighting simulator and the school even has lifeboat simulators, which mimic what it would be like pushing the lifeboat off the side of a huge vessel and maneuvering it in the ocean.
The Maritime Academy was birthed in 2011 when executives at Campbell Shipping including Lowell J. Mortimer (which is the only Bahamian-owned shipping company Cleare says), realized that there were no Bahamians working on their ships and were determined to change that.
“We had the college of the Bahamas, which is now the University of the Bahamas. We had a technical and vocational institution. We had banking and tourism colleges, but nothing like maritime but [we said] why not maritime?”
And the LJMMA so was born, named after its founder Mortimer. In its first year, it fielded over 180 applications and accepted just over 40 students. It is semi-regimented, which means strict rules for students, just as they would have to abide by on vessels.
The institution is accredited by the National Accreditation and Equivalency Council of the Bahamas, the Bahamas Maritime Authority, the Institute of Materials, Minerals, Mining and others.
Cleare said the vision of the school was to become a globally recognized institution of excellence, in maritime education and training.
Negril Benefits From Improvement Projects
#MontegoBay, March 27, 2023 – The Ministry of Tourism and its public bodies have undertaken a variety of improvement projects, to enhance Negril’s standing as a tourist destination.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett said since 2017, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has committed $465 million to projects in Negril, including road rehabilitation, beautification works, drain cleaning, renovation of the Negril Fire Station and the Hanover Parish Church.
“We can also include the purchase of an ambulance for the Negril Fire Station for use in the resort area, the upgrading of the main community centre and the installation of the popular Negril Jam-Iconic sign, just to name a few,” Mr. Bartlett stated.
The Minister was speaking at a Destination Assurance Framework and Strategy consultation meeting, held at the Negril Community Centre, Norman Manley Boulevard in Westmoreland on March 23.
Mr. Bartlett noted that the government is aware that there is still much work to be done particularly concerning the improper disposal of garbage, harassment, crime and violence, and non-compliance with rules, regulations, and licensing requirements.
“Be mindful however, that an enhanced Negril space is a collective responsibility and many of these issues are social, rather than economic and require a shift in the mindset of the people and businesses that reside in and benefit from the town’s tourism economy,” he stated.
Mr. Bartlett informed that the Ministry and its public bodies are willing to work with stakeholders to address “these issues and tackle Negril’s social, civic, and environmental concerns in a tangible way”.
He added that the Negril Destination Assurance Committee will be central to this process.
In the meantime, the Minister said Negril is an integral part of the tourism product, bringing in one-third of all tourism revenue and being the island’s second largest direct employer of tourism workers.
Mr. Bartlett stated that over the decades, Negril has become one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world, with its unique features, including the well-known seven mile stretch of beach.
“The ‘capital of casual’ is the place to do everything or nothing at all and leave knowing you have had a great trip,” Mr. Bartlett said.
Negril’s Seven-Mile Beach has been voted many times over as one of the best in the world, known for its dramatic sunsets, silky white sands, clear turquoise waters, and spontaneous island spirit.
Contact: Garwin Davis
JAMAICA: Loads Of Fun In Store For Coffee Festival Patrons
#Kingston, March 27, 2023 – Lots of fun and exciting activities are in store for patrons attending the sixth annual Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival on Saturday (March 25) in Newcastle, St. Andrew.
Director, Tourism Linkages Network, Carolyn McDonald Riley, told JIS News that the event will feature diverse coffee by-product displays, including candles, rubs, scrubs, and foods.
“We will [also] be having a mixology competition, which is coffee with an infused liquor, [and] we will be having barista competition, which is the different ways in which coffee is made,” she informed.
Mrs. McDonald Riley pointed out that the Coffee Festival will not be just about drinking the popular beverage.
“We have over 35 persons who will be showcasing different coffee products [in the Festival Marketplace],” she indicated, adding that there will also be a Kids Village for children to enjoy various fun-filled activities.
Mrs. McDonald Riley said another major highlight is the entertainment package, which will feature performances by Etana, DBurnz, the Silverbirds Steelpan Orchestra, and the Charles Town Maroons.
Persons attending the event are required to park at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) in Papine, and utilise the arranged shuttle service.
“We have some beautiful shuttle buses that will be taking you up in the hills, and we have tour operators. Once you take that shuttle bus, there will be excitement. The idea is that you’ll be given a tour by a certified tour guide, who will be able to tell you all of what’s happening in that area,” Mrs. McDonald Riley advised, adding that the journey will be an interesting 45 minutes.
Tickets are available for purchase online at www.touchstonelink.com or from authorised ticket vendors, including Blue Brews Bistro, Rituals Coffee House, Starbucks, Cannon Ball Café, Café Blue, Island Coffees Café, and Deaf Can Coffee.
The prices are $5,000 for adults and $3,000 for children, 12 years and older.
Contact: Shanna K. Salmon
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