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The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has expressed confidence that the Caribbean Travel Marketplace will take place in Puerto Rico in January next year despite the recent hurricane.

The region’s largest tourism marketing event will be held between January 30 and February 1 as officials are working feverishly to prepare hotels and meeting facilities impacted by the hurricane.

Director General and CEO of the CHTA Frank Comito said most of the region’s tourism industry is open for business and “we anticipate by the end of the year most of the hotels in Puerto Rico will be welcoming guests, as will a growing number of hotels from the other impacted destinatio­ns.”

Marketplace is produced by CHTA in collaboration with the Puerto Rico Conventions Center District Authority, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, and the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association.

CHTA President Karolin Troubetzkoy said Caribbean hoteliers, destination representatives and industry stakeholders who rely on doing business with the region will have a unique opportunity to learn about the region’s diverse offerings, new products, improvement and upgrades and niche market opportunities.

CHTA said Marketplace 2018 will also see a wider range of suppliers eager to promote their new contributions to this fast-growing sector.

Antigua

A magistrate in Antigua has ordered the deportation of a Jamaican national, who has been described as one of that country’s l0 most wanted criminals.

Jermaine Gordon, 33, who is wanted on murder and other criminal charges in Jamaica, recently appeared before Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh in the St. John’s court, after he was captured by police on the island.

Police said Gordon had entered the country illegally by boat and had been residing in Antigua for some years.

Gordon is facing at least two murder charges in Jamaica.

Dominica

A total of 12 schools have been reopened so far in Dominica, which was ravaged by a Category 5 hurricane recently.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said he expects “a greater number will be reopened” in the coming weeks.

Plans to reopen the schools have been delayed because of continuous rain.

Skerrit told a news conference in Roseau, his government had received a number of tents, which would be erected on the compounds of the schools which existed prior to the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September.

He said with schools reopening, Cabinet would discuss the construction of temporary housing for people to be taken out of shelters so that their children can go to school.

The prime minister said his government expects to sign a contract for construction of Bailey bridges at locations across the country to reconnect communities.

Skerrrit also said the government was looking at a recommendation from the chief of police to change the curfew hours from 6 pm to 6 am to 10 pm to 5 am. He said an announcement would be made soon.

Grenada

The Grenada government says that natural gas has been discovered within the island’s territorial waters, but is waiting on the results of tests to determine whether the gas is of a quality the island could benefit from financially.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said the findings are being tested for quality, noting that not all natural gas found is of the quality required for refining.

Earlier this year, the government disclosed that it had issued a license to the Russian-based Global Petroleum Group to conduct the necessary exploration activities to locate oil and natural gas within the island’s territorial waters.

In June, Parliament approved the Hydro Carbon Exploration Incentive Bill 2017 outlining a package of incentives for oil and gas exploration to any company.

Guyana

Public servants in Guyana are to get a salary increase for this year.

This was announced by Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who said the new offer to public servants will see those earning GUY$90,000 and less being given an eight percent increase on their salaries, while those earning GUY$100,000 and GUY$299,000 will receive an increase of six percent.

He also said there will be a hike in the minimum wage, from GUY$55,000 to GUY$66,000 per month.

Additionally, workers earning between GUY$300,000 and GUY$499,000 will get an increase of four percent.

The announcement came after a meeting between the union representatives and officials from the Public Service Department.

The retroactive increases from January 2017 would cost the government GUY$3.5 billion for the estimated 14,000 public servants.

He noted that those earning over GUY$1 million a month would not be receiving an increase.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia’s tourist arrivals are among the fastest growth in the region among Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) member countries.

According to figures released by the CTO, Bermuda leads the member countries as at August with 11.9 percent increase in stay-over arrivals over 2016, followed by St. Lucia by 9.2 per cent. The island also recorded the third highest percentage increase for August at 11.4 percent, behind Belize at 19.1 percent and Grenada at 16.9 percent.

August marked the third consecutive month of double-digit growth for St Lucia and fourth for the year, a feat surpassed only by Bermuda with five double digit increases so for the year.

The United States continues to be the market leader with total stay-over visitor arrivals of 12,922 in August.

The United Kingdom showed a marked increase of 36 percent, a significant increase, after a difficult year for the UK market in 2016.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has announced that Cabinet has approved TT$35 million to assist people affected by recent floods in several parts of Trinidad.

He said he directed the Minister of Finance to allocate the fund for the thousands of people who have lost household items when flood waters rose to chest night in some parts of East, Central and South Trinidad.

The prime minister said steps will be taken to ensure that this assistance reaches the most in need.

The country experienced four days of rainfall, which caused many villagers to be marooned in their homes for days.

Dr. Rowley made the announcement on his return to Trinidad from a climate change conference in Mexico.

He revealed that the Mexican government is willing to help T&T deal with natural disasters and this could include strengthening the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM).

Rowley said Mexico has provided US$5 million each to Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda to assist their respective countries from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 8:10 pm, November 8, 2017
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