Chairman of the Antigua Hotels and Tourism Association (AHTA), Alex DeBrito, is calling for better monitoring, supervision and more demands on hotel investors to ensure the industry maintains a high standard.
He said a lot of work is currently being done now on three and four-star properties, but noted that the quality of many of the hotels is dropping.
“Some of the rooms need to be refurbished. We need to have attractive mid-range hotels, with good rates which could attract more people,” he said.
The AHTA chairman reported that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the problems that are affecting the marketing of the tourism product have to be addressed by all stakeholders.
DeBrito said industry officials in Antigua need to monitor and observe what is happening in more successful markets and work towards developing models that could yield similar results.
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved US$7.75 million to improve access to tertiary education in Barbados and to strengthen the business operations of the country’s Student Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF).
The loan will assist the SRLF, the principle source of student loan financing in Barbados, in providing tertiary education loans for new and continuing students.
Included in the loan is provision for the financing of consulting services to carry out a review of the operation of SRLF to improve the Fund’s sustainability and help facilitate the efficient delivery of student loans and related services.
Acting CDB Director of Projects, Andrew Dupingy said the financing would help Barbados, especially those in need, a better chance of successfully completing tertiary education, providing access to affordable higher education financing, which will help Barbados develop a skilled, well-trained workforce contribute to sustainable economic growth.
Through the financing provided by the CDB, it is estimated that by 2019, at least 675 student loans will have been issues and that the financing will have produced at least 160 graduates.
The approval of the CDB financing comes amid declining enrolment rates at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus.
Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie is expressing optimism that although 2,000 Baha Mar workers have been laid off, the megaresort will be completed and open for business with or without the full cooperation of the parties involved in the long-standing dispute.
However, Christie warned that the price tag to complete the development has gone from $300 million to $600 million and continues to rise.
The Bahamas Supreme Court recently granted approval to the Baha Mar joint provisional liquidators to make the jobs redundant.
The liquidators said Justice Ian Winder granted the request and said that the lay-offs were due to financial insolvency of the US$3.5 billion resort project that has been stalled since June 30.
The main opposition Free Movement (FNM) said that the job losses come at a time when unemployment is at an all-time high in New Providence, Grand Bahama and among the youth.
But the ruling Bahamas Party Chairman Bradley Roberts said the government is doing all in its power to complete the project and get the resort open as soon as practicable and return those employees to productive work.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a disbursement of about US$8.7 million for Dominica as the island seeks to rebuild following the destruction of Tropical Storm Erika.
Acting Chair of the IMF and Deputy Managing Director Mitsuhiro Furusawa said an assessment report by the World Bank and the government of Dominica estimates total damage and loss at US$483 million, 96 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), making Erika the worst natural disaster to strike Dominica.
He said the recovery and rehabilitation costs will be substantial, putting tremendous pressure on already challenging fiscal and balance of payments positions.
“The authorities have committed to generating robust primary surpluses over the medium term to ensure downward debt dynamics. They will tackle pressures on current spending, broaden revenue base, strengthen tax collection, further re-prioritize capital expenditures and step efforts to strengthen the fiscal policy framework to ensure the sustainability of the fiscal adjustment effort,” he said.
The funds for Dominica are to be drawn from the IMF’s Rapid Credit facility (RCF).
The RCF provides immediate financial assistance with limited conditionality to low income countries with an urgent balance of payments need.
Venezuela has objected to a Canada mining company operating in Guyana, telling the company it is infringing on the sovereignty of Caracas.
Guyana President David Granger told Parliament recently that, in a move that shows no regard for diplomacy, Venezuela’s ambassador to Ottawa, Canada had issued a warning letter to Guyana Goldfields Incorporated, informing the company that its operations are “infringing on the territorial sovereignty of Venezuela.”
Guyana Goldfields has a mining operation in the Cuyuni Mazaruni region.
The development comes a month after Granger and his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicholas Maduro, agreed to work to resolve the issues in the border dispute between the two neighbors.
Granger said Venezuela’s claims are not only illegal, they are injurious to the economic development of Guyana and therefore Venezuela, must desist from hindering “our economic development in an obtrusive and obstructive manner that is tantamount to interference in our internal affairs. It must desist from threatening investors.”
Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris has invited Asian investors to explore opportunities to live, work and do business in St. Kitts and Nevis.
In his address at the inaugural Asia Citizenship by Investment and International Residence Summit at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore recently, he called on the Asian community to learn more about St. Kitts and Nevis and to explore its investment opportunities and visitor lifestyle.
He told the gathering, which included several Caribbean prime ministers and high-ranking officials from multilateral agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), that the Citizenship-by-Investment Program (CIP) is undergoing necessary reformation.
According to the prime minister, some of these changes include the establishment of an electronic case management system, which provides 24/7 access to the unit’s electronic resources.
The new system is unique to St. Kitts and Nevis and has resulted in a dramatic reduction in outstanding applications.
Dr. Harris was accompanied by his Attorney General Senator Vincent Byron and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Kevin M Isaac on the trip to Singapore.
Suriname will host a meeting of central banks and monetary authorities of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries from Nov. 15-16, 2015.
This will be one of the first meetings of the OIC that Paramaribo will host to enhance its economic standing and raise its global profile since it joined this group of 57 countries in 1996.
The meeting will bring together economic and financial officials from OIC member states under the theme: Structural and financial policies to cope with international and domestic economic challenges in the OIC member countries.”
In addition to economic and financial officials, some finance ministers from OIC countries, who also hold the “governor” portfolio, will be in Suriname.
The first day of the meeting will be dedicated to the experts’ group workshop. On the second day, the meeting of governors will take place.
Several workshops will be held between the two days.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Morocco recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which can benefit the local tourism sector.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Camillo Gonsalves said the signing of the MoU between the two countries will significantly benefit the local tourism sector.
He said Morocco’s interest is in helping St. Vincent and the Grenadines to develop its agriculture and education sectors, which will also benefit the tourism industry.
Nathaniel Williams, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that both states recognize the importance of deepening and strengthening their diplomatic relationship.
Gonsalves said tourism in Morocco itself is well developed, with strong tourist industry focused on the country’s coast, culture, and history.
In 2013, Morocco attracted more than ten million international tourists.
Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) is among Caribbean destinations with the largest year-on-year percentage increase in visitors for the first six months of the year.
According to data in the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) UK and European Travel Industry Trends & Insights Report 2015 which was launched recently at the World Travel Market in London, T&T was third behind Cuba and Aruba with an 8.5 percent increase, or 265,000 more visitors.
Cuba, which topped the rankings, enjoyed an increase of 16.9 percent (2.2 million visitors), while Aruba had a 15.8 percent more visitors (680,000).
The Dominican Republic had 7.6 percent more visitors (3.4 million) and the U.S. Virgin Islands 6.8 percent (514,000).
The CTO said the Caribbean was one of the best performing regions in the first six months of the year with visitor arrivals up 5.8 percent compared with 4 percent rise in international arrivals.
The region attracted a record-setting 26.3 million tourists in 2014, which was on the back of the previous record of 25 million in 2013.
Last year’s visitors contributed a total of $29.2 billion to Caribbean economies, the CTO noted.
— compiled by Azad Ali