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Antigua

Motorists who have been caught by police using cellphone while driving will have to pay a fine of EC$500 immediately.

The Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Legal Affairs said in a statement that the amendment to the Vehicles and Road Traffic Amendment Act 2018 has gone into effect making it an offence of careless driving holding and using a hand-held mobile device.

Regulation 4 of the Vehicles and Road and Traffic (Mobile Devices) regulations of 2019 permits police officers to issue a ticket (fixed penalty) if a driver is observed holding and using a mobile device while driving.

It said the legislation makes it an offence for “Individuals to view, send or compose and electronic message” and that police are permitted to issue a ticket with a fixed penalty of EC$500 “If you are observed holding and using a mobile device while driving.”

Barbados

Regional airline LIAT has resumed direct flights from Tortola’s Terrence B Lettsome International Airport in the British Virgin Island to Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados.

The airline’s official website said the non-stop flights from Tortola to Barbados will be every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

LIAT’s resumption of direct flights to the BVI following Premier Andrew Fahie’s recent announcement in the House of Assembly that the BVI Airports Authority would hold negotiations with the airline regarding the BVI-Barbados route.

“After witnessing a reduction in flights to one flight per day by LIAT, on Dec. 9, 2019, LIAT will introduce their direct flight between Barbados and the BVI,” Premier Fahie said at the time.

He said the reintroduction of the early morning flight (9am) from the BVI will be on the agenda when the board meets with LIAT soon.

LIAT created history back in 2016 when it inaugurated the non-stop service between the two countries in June that year.

Caribbean

The President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Patricia Alfonso-Dass, is predicting that 2020 will be an exciting and fruitful year for the sector.

She said data received from CHTA members indicates there is more to celebrate.

The CTHA president said while there are challenges, most indicators point to continued steady economic conditions in “our key source markets and robust visitor expenditur­es.”

Alfonso-Dass said Caribbean hoteliers have much to be proud of in 2019 after taking up the challenges of the past 12 months.

She said that the destinations hardest hit by the 2017 hurricanes have made impressive progress to pre-hurricane levels and are back on track with new and improved products.

The CHTA president said that arrivals throughout the region, in fact, are very high and on pace for a record year 2019.

She said the vast majority of destinations recorded marked increases and the Caribbean is on pace to reach its highest annual RevPR in history by year-end.

Alfonso-Dass said she was also pleased that the CHTA Education Foundation has been organizing and offering scholarships and special assistance for the education and training of Caribbean tourism industry personnel and students pursuing tourism and hospitality careers.

Dominica

The Dominica Employers Federation (DEF) said that in order to comply with demands from the public for “more shopping hours” it would seek to have the government amend legislation to allow business places open on a Sunday.

The DEF said this is one of the major things that “we are going to do in 2020 and it is not new, it has been on the burner for a while, but we are going to use a different strategy to communicate that which is the business sector thinking on how we treat Sundays as far as employment is concerned in this country,”

DEF executive director Achille Joseph said that, at present Dominica has the Public Holiday Act that declares Sundays to be public holidays which is in addition to the Christmas holidays, the New Year’s, Easter and Carnival.”

He said businesses are now opening on Sunday “but there is no law that says otherwise.”

“We would like Sundays to be removed from the Public Order Act so businesses are free to open,” Joseph said.

Suriname

Guyana and Suriname have signed a framework cooperation agreement aimed at increasing tourism business between the two territories and enhance growth of a sustainable tourism product that will attract more visitors to the two Caricom countries.

Guyana Director General of Tourism, Donald Sinclair, said agreement, which was recently signed, is being regarded as a very timely and strategic mechanisms, coming in the midst of preparations for the February 2020 Tourism Expo of the Guianas which Guyana will be hosting at the Arthur Chung Conference Center.

He said that the agreement which was signed following two years of discussions, speaks to a common and shared national vision that has been kept alive through successive administrations in both countries.

Following the signing, officials from the two countries met to outline the immediate steps to activate the agreement with the establishment of a Guyana-Suriname Tourism Cooperation Council, to be convened within one month of the signing, being among the priorities.

Minister of Business Haimraj Rajkumar signed on behalf of Guyana while the Minister of Trade, Tourism, and Industry, Stephen Tsang signed on behalf of Suriname.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) says the tax on hotel guests will go into effect from April this year.

It said that the accommodation tax will be charged to guests at check-in and that is designed to “ease the impact of the tax on existing contract arrangements, ensure implementation and supplement financial resources for the Tourism Authority for the next financial year.”

Government approved the tax, which is two-tiered and not applicable to guests under the age of 16 years.

The SLHTA said that a US$3 tax per night per guest will be applied to guests staying at a hotel with an average ADR (average daily rate) while the US$6 tax per night will be for guests at a hotel with an average ADR above US$120,

The SLHTA said that the fee is to be applied to all non-sharing platform accommodation providers and that the rate of value-added tax (VAT) on hotel accommodation providers will be lowered from ten to seven percent.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago recorded the second ever highest murder total of 540 last year, compared to 550 in 2008, 494 in 2017 and 516 in 2018, in which 32 women were murdered.

And already for this year 15 people were killed, including three women as a result of domestic violence.

Respond to the crime problem in Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley during an interview with a local television station on Sunday night, as he prepares to ask the population for a second five-year term, said citizens should not only judge his administration solely on the out of control murder rate even though he admitted that the government has not being successful on crime.

He said runaway crime has been one of the failings that have tarnished the PNM administration record of office with more than 2000 citizens being killed under their watch, murders moved from 463 in 2016 to 538 in 2019.

Last year’s figure represented the second highest murder toll in this country’s history.

Dr. Rowley believes the entire country is underestimating the challenge posed by criminals.

He is optimistic that citizens will notice results in the coming weeks and months.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 5:01 pm, January 22, 2020
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