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St Lucia Mango festival

First Saint Lucia Mango Festival gathered 500 visitors!

OECS Media release

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 — The OECS and EU sponsored Saint Lucia Mango Festival held last week met all expectations as the event brought together 16 exhibitors and 500 participants at the Constitution Park in Castries.

The festival aimed at raising public awareness on the Mango Biodiversity Project which was started in 2017 in order to limit land erosion in vulnerable riverbanks. The high soil stabilisation capacity of the mango tree enables a bio solution to this issue in Saint Lucia where 6.000 have already been planted. Mrs La Force-Haynes highlighted the success of the endeavour.    

The Festival was very well received by the public. We had about 16 participants who showcased different products made with mango and at least 500 visitors today. We hope to make the Saint Lucia Mango Festival an annual event ! Environmental Education Officer Nicole La Force-Haynes explained.  

On a regional level, The Saint Lucia Mango Festival formed part of the European Union funded GCCA iLand Resilience Project on climate change adaptation and sustainable land management. The GCCA project which started in 2014 includes multiple initiatives implemented in collaboration with governments of participating countries.   

Nine OECS Member States are direct beneficiaries of the GCCA Project. It is a 10.6 million euros project and there are various national and regional initiatives supported. Head of the OECS Environmental Sustainability Cluster Chamberlain Emmanuel stated.

Projects undertaken in the scope of GCCA iland Resilience encompasses coastal protection work in the British Virgin Islands and Saint Kitts and Nevis as well as rainwater harvesting in Grenada and Montserrat. Other physical adaptations measures coordinated by the OECS Commission are expected to contribute to a more climate resilience Eastern Caribbean in the future.

https://youtu.be/L3AYjyvzV34

First Saint Lucia Mango Festival gathered 500 visitors

Saint Lucia Mango Festival – stand of fresh fruit juices

St Lucia Mango festival – stand of brownies

Saint Lucia Mango Festival – mango jelly and mango cakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Lucia Mango Festival – stand of mango cakes

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US relaxes Cuba travel advisory

US relaxes Cuba travel advisory

WASHINGTON, Aug.26,  , CMC – The United States Department of State has toned down its travel advisory for Cuba.

The State Department on Friday reduced its advisory to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean island from Level 3, “reconsider travel,” to Level 2, “exercise increased caution.”

According to the State Department ratings, Level 1 means “exercise normal precautions,” and Level 4 means “do not travel.”

Under the revised travel advisory, the State Department urged Americans to “exercise increased caution in Cuba due to attacks targeting US Embassy Havana employees resulting in the drawdown of embassy staff.

“Numerous US Embassy Havana employees appear to have been targeted in specific attacks,” it said, adding: “We are unable to identify the source.  Many of these employees have suffered injuries.”

The State Department said affected individuals have exhibited a range of physical symptoms, including ear complaints and hearing loss, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems and difficulty sleeping.

It said attacks have occurred in US diplomatic residences, including a long-term apartment at the Atlantic, and at Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri in Havana, the Cuban capital.

The State Department said the US Embassy in Havana is operating with reduced staffing. 

It also said family members cannot accompany US government employees who work in Cuba.

“If you decide to travel to Cuba, avoid Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri,” the advisory said. “If you experience any acute auditory or sensory phenomena, immediately move to another area.

“Know where to seek medical care in Cuba,” it added. “Consult with a medical professional prior to traveling if you have personal health concerns or upon return if you believe you have suffered symptoms similar to those listed above.

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US Embassy to waive visa renewal interviews for Barbadians

US Embassy to waive visa renewal interviews for Barbadians

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Aug 23, CMC – The United States (US) Embassy has announced that from August 28, it will waive visa renewal interviews in Barbados for qualified applicants.

It said the move is part of the US Government’s efforts to improve customer service and streamline the visa process.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Embassy said Barbados passport holders may qualify for a visa renewal interview waiver if their previous visa expired within the past 12 months and they are applying for the same visa category as their previous visa.

“The applicant must be physically present in Barbados or within the consular district of the US Embassy in Bridgetown to avail themselves of this option. Additionally, the previous US visa must be in the applicant’s possession, and the applicant must have submitted a ten-fingerprint scan in conjunction with the previous visa application,” it said.

Students who wish to renew their visas, and who satisfy the requirements may qualify for interview waiver if they are applying to continue attendance at the same institution, or will continue the same major course of study at a different institution. Applicants seeking to renew work-related visas who are returning to work for the same employer/company as annotated on the previous visa may also qualify. Applicants under the age of 14 and over 79 will continue to qualify for interview waiver in most visa classifications.

However, third country nationals must schedule an interview.

The US Embassy stressed that eligibility for interview waiver does not automatically entitle applicants to a waiver of the interview requirement.

It added that there will be further expansion of interview waivers in US Embassy Bridgetown’s consular district in the coming weeks.

CMC/2018

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United Airlines announces historic additional flights to St Kitts

United Airlines announces historic additional flights to St Kitts

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Aug 22, CMC – For the first time in St Kitts and Nevis’ history, United Airlines will fly a second weekly nonstop flight from its New York hub at Newark Liberty International Airport, complementing the carrier’s existing Saturday service.

Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce Lindsay Grant said the addition of a mid-week flight marks yet another historic first for the twin-island federation this year.

“I could not be more pleased to welcome this additional service, which increases the available options for visitors and Diaspora to get to island during peak travel season from the New York metropolitan area, which is our primary source market for arrivals,” he said.

For the January 9 to March 6, 2019 period, United will operate a total of nine scheduled round-trip, non-stop Wednesday flights between Newark and St. Kitts.

Racquel Brown, CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, said having the Wednesday flight gives travellers more flexibility in their vacation planning and provides increased capacity during the period when demand is highest.

“This is a testament to the success of our work to grow North American airlift from key gateways in order to accommodate new hotel developments and existing hotel product upgrades,” she said.

United first began serving St. Kitts in December 2015 and continues to operate non-stop Saturday flights from Newark.

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Jaden Sun

Special Day Trip to Guadweloupe reported a success

The Access Division, reports that under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier, embarked on a special daytrip to Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe on Saturday July 28th, with more than 80 passengers. 

Jaden Sun

Highlighting the fact that they do not advertise with The Montserrat Reporter, the report states as follows: “Following months of promotions on Radio Montserrat (ZJB), ZDK Radio in Antigua and social media posts, 130 persons registered for the day trip.  87 of those registered took to the seas, via MV Jaden Sun, alongside Marketing Officer in the Tourism Division, Cherise Aymer and a Nurse Nadine Sweeney from the Glendon Hospital. 

Jaden Sun

While in Guadeloupe, there was a plaque exchange between a representative of the Mayor of Pointe a Pitre, Cherise Aymer and Captain Elvis Gooding of MV Jaden Sun.  As part of the activities, some persons had pre-arranged tours to the Botanical Gardens, Rum Factory and Waterfall, Rainforest, the Zoo and Chocolate factory. Meanwhile, others chose to explore Pointe a Pitre city on their own, where they took in the sites, cultural performances and retail therapy.

Based on feedback survey forms completed by the passengers on board the ferry 63% of the responders expressed that they had a good experience on the Jaden Sun and the service provided by the crew.  All passengers that completed the survey commented that they would participate in another day excursion organised by the Access Division.  Although the majority of persons are requesting a follow-up overnight trip in the near future to Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, there is also a huge demand for visits to St. Maarten or Martinique.

The journey took approximately four (4) hours each way.

The Access Division expresses heartfelt gratitude to the authorities in Pointe a Pitre, Montserrat Border controls, the Ministry of Health, Captain and crew of MV Jaden Sun and all of our valued customers who made this day trip possible.”

In an observation and following up on TMR’s earlier questions and suggestion we wonder how many readers of TMR both online and in print did not know of the trip to Guadeloupe. Meanwhile among other queries, how come with the huge St. Kitts/Nevis support of festivals in Montserrat, no reciprocity is offered when St. Kitts/Nevis are having their festivals for residents in Montserrat and Antigua to take a trip to celebrate with the neighbors across the waters.

We trust that those read

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St. Kitts-Nevis P M promises no new taxes under current administration

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Aug 15, CMC – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Timothy Harris has promised that citizens will not have to worry about any new taxes for the time remaining in his administration’s term in office.

Team Unity – an alliance of the Concerned Citizens’ Movement, the People’s Action Movement, and the People’s Labour Party, led by Dr. Harris – assumed power in the February 2015 general elections. With another year and a half left in the current term in office, Dr. Harris said the focus is on alleviating poverty.

“No new taxes are contemplated during the life of this Team Unity administration. We believe that through appropriate management, through the consistent growth of the economy and through the necessary administrative efficiencies in tax collection, we believe in reordering our incentive programme, the government will be able to collect adequate revenues to finance the programmes which are required by the people,” he said on local radio programme ‘Straight Talk’ on Monday.

Prime Minister Harris said it was important to initiate programmes to assist the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. He assured that the government stood ready to help where necessary.

“I would say that, by and large, the programmes in which we are engaged are not frivolous programmes. The fact that people are poor and need help is a matter to which we must respond and we must respond appropriately,” he said. “It is a commitment of this government to do all that we can to alleviate poverty in the country because no one ought to be living demeaning lives and, at the same time, the government through the variety of social and other interventions would want to ensure that people can move from poverty into prosperity.”

The Kittitian leader reminded that alleviating poverty and economically empowering residents form part of the government’s good governance and prosperity agenda.

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Redonda in the back ground - web

Magical Transformation – (Redonda)

Antigua Observer – August 4, 2018

EDITORIAL – Redonda

Redonda in the back ground rt (Montserrat)

Not too long ago, Redonda’s landscape could be described as being closer in appearance to the lunar surface than earth’s. The once heavily-forested rock, was being decimated by invasive species in the form of black rats and non-native goats.

Then came the Redonda Restoration Program, which was formed by the Antigua and Barbuda government and the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG), in collaboration with other earth-friendly organisations like Fauna & Flora International, British Mountaineering Council, Island Conservation and Wildlife Management International Ltd.

The mission was simple. Rid the island of the rats and the goats and allow Mother Nature to heal the flora and fauna that are native to the island. For those who do not know, the rock called Redonda is legally part of our bit of paradise. It is said that Columbus gave the island its name because of its shape.

In Latin languages such as Spanish and Portuguese, “redonda” is the female form of the adjective meaning “round.” While the island belongs to us, it is actually closer to Montserrat.

Redonda was a guano mine and operated as one from about the 1860’s up until just after the start of World War I – before the age of artificial fertilisers. There are still the remnants of a few buildings from that era on the rock. If you have visited Redonda, it is hard to believe that anyone could live there, but it is reported that the population was 120 in 1901 and the workers produced up to 7,000 tons of guano annually.

This is not intended to be a history lesson on Redonda, but it is nice to know something about this magnificent rock as we celebrate what has been described as a “magical transformation” by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) in just over one shortyear. Just reading of the successes made possible by the restoration programme is heartwarming and it is something of which the sponsors and the project and the participants should be quite proud. It is a clear demonstration that when we work together towards as common goal, we can achieve great things.

For example, it has been reported that Redonda’s ground dragon, which is a rare black lizard found nowhere else on the planet, has doubled its population. Not only that, the rare Redonda tree lizards have multiplied in the absence of the alien predators, and hundreds of new trees have sprung up. FFI reports that “land birds have increased tenfold, and the island’s globally important seabird colonies – including magnificent frigate birds and several booby species – are having their best breeding year on record.” How a tree lizard ever survived on an island that was near devoid of trees is amazing in its own right.

Interestingly, one of the invasive species, the goats, have been captured, and studies and tests are underway to see if a breeding program can be established to take advantage of their drought-resistant genes. So, aside from restoring Redonda to an environmental paradise, we may be able to make our local goats more resistant to droughts, and we all know, with the kind of weather that we are experiencing, that would be a good thing. All of these spectacular results seem like an “overnight” success, considering all that has been achieved in such a short period of time, but it has been a chore for the team that was – on the rock. From the capture of dozens of fleet-footed goats to the removal of 6,000 rats from the rugged terrain of Redonda – which included rappelling down cliff faces to set bait – the entire team deserves our praise. Redonda may be far away and out of our minds but this restoration project should not be. It demonstrates that with proper planning, support and execution, great things can be achieved for our environment. So, please join us in complimenting the government, the EAG and all the other contributing agencies, along with all the individuals who participated in the programme.

Their work is invisible to most but they have produced a “magical transformation” that can be used as a framework for future conservation projects. Well done!

 

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Montserrat Innovation Days to Open this Week

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 By TMR staff

OCTA Innovation Newsletter – Montserrat Innovation Days reveals: The Government of Montserrat is organising Innovation Days in Montserrat on 16th and 17th of August 2018. Innovation Days will be held under patronage of the honourable Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat, who will personally open the Montserrat Innovation Days. That will be great occasion for local both public and private stakeholders to gather and to exchange relevant knowledge and best available practice in different aspects of sustainable development of the island.

Mrs. Janice Panton MBE

Mrs. Janice Panton MBE, UK and EU Representative for the Government of Montserrat and Chair of the OCTA Innovation will present Association of EU Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTA) and OCTA Innovation, EU funded project for propelling innovation in the OCTs. As an introductory speaker at the Montserrat Innovation Days, Janice Panton will particularly highlight her call upon the heads of the governments of the EU Overseas Countries and Territories to embrace Systemic Innovation for the sustainable development of their territories.

The Premier’s Office on Tuesday this week, provided some more details. The linkages between innovation and sustainable development will be the focus of discussions on Montserrat for the ‘2018 Innovation Days’, being organised by the Government of Montserrat with support from the local Innovation Advisory Board.

The ‘Innovation Days’ are scheduled for Thursday August 16 and Friday August 17 at the Montserrat National Trust starting at 9:00a.m. on both days.  The event will be launched on Thursday morning by Hon. Premiere Donaldson Romeo who will deliver opening remarks. Other speakers scheduled to deliver remarks at the opening ceremony include Government of Montserrat’s UK Representative and Chair of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) Innovation, Mrs. Janice Panton, and Brussels based OCTA Innovation Team Leader, Milan Jezic von Gesseneck.

The Brussels based OCTA Innovation Team Leader and the local Innovation Advisory Board explained that the ‘Innovation Days’ are intended to assist in enhancing sustainable development through innovation solutions for economic diversification.  The event targets both local public and private stakeholders, encouraging exchanges of relevant knowledge and best available practice in different aspects of sustainable development of the island.

During the sessions, Milan Jezic von Gesseneck, will lead a group of EU experts who will provide some lectures and transfer of knowledge on the best EU practices to Montserrat. Milan in particular will share his knowledge and experience in innovation and sustainable development; Innovation, entrepreneurship and green business expert from Trinidad and Tobago, Alan Cooper, will share his knowledge and regional experience in policy support for innovation, entrepreneurship and green business development; while development and tourism expert James McGregor, will bring the best worldwide practice and experience in visitor economy. Some members of the local Innovation Advisory Board will also deliver presentations based on their areas of specialisation.

In addition to the Innovation Days on August 16 and 17, a round-table discussion on the ‘Creative Industry’ is also being planned for Monday, August 20 starting at 9:00a.m. at the Cabinet Secretariat’s Conference Room.

The OCTA Innovation programme assists Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in propelling innovation and creativity through the organisation of local ‘Innovation Days’. Innovation Days are events held in the OCTs, ranging from one day up to several days, with support from the Brussels based OCTA Innovation Team Leader, and features lectures and trainings from experts.

Creativity in Monserrat has been recognised: handmade craft items specific to Montserrat. Emerald Isle Ceramics won OCTA Innovation BIC Award 2017 in creativity field.

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Governments moving to ban plastics and Styrofoam

Governments moving to ban plastics and Styrofoam

NASSAU, Bahamas, Jul. 27, CMC – The Government has embarked upon a programme to ban the use of plastics and Styrofoam which are proving detrimental to the country’s eco and marine system.

In an effort to make the public aware of the planned policy, the first in a series of town hall meetings on Single-use Plastics & Styrofoam Ban was held earlier this week.

(file photo)

Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis underscored the importance of banning the use of plastics and Styrofoam.

The aim is to also simultaneously address marine pollution and waste management and to ban single-use plastics, such as shopping bags, food utensils, straws and Styrofoam food containers by 2020.

“Reducing harmful waste streams such as plastics and Styrofoam is one of the first steps we are taking in to implementing a more effective solid waste management strategy that prioritizes waste prevention and minimization, while utilizing waste disposal as a last resort,” he said.

The Prime Minister referenced the New Daily website about a video that went viral on the “world’s latest garbage emergency” showing 30 tons of plastic debris washing up on a beach in the Dominican Republic. 

The New Daily also reported “A huge clean-up operation began on Wednesday with more than 500 local public workers, navy and army support mobilized to collect and remove the massive floating stockpile of plastic bottles, takeaway food containers and Styrofoam.”

According to the Prime Minister, these “shocking” events dramatize why there is a global and his Government’s push towards reducing plastic pollution in the oceans.

More than 60 countries have already committed to introducing levies and bans to reduce single-use plastic waste, he said, adding that plastic pollution is extremely difficult to remove from the environment.

“These plastics break down into much smaller micro-pieces which are often mistaken for food by birds, turtles, and fish. Tiny particles of plastics have been found to build up in fish brains, altering their behaviour,” Minnis said.

He also noted that like other Small Island Developing States, The Bahamas is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

“Coupled with this, we have the prevailing challenge of finding waste management solutions that suit our small size and growing economy.Due to our geographic location, we are besieged by marine debris from the United States of America, and from the many international marine vessels which pass through our waters. This pollution will have a terrible impact on our tourism and fishing industries.”

The Prime Minister said that his Government remains committed to ensuring that significant action is taken to mitigate natural as well as human-made pollution, including pollution resulting from the poor-functioning and poorly managed dump sites throughout our archipelago.

“As the Ministry of the Environment continues to host town hall and consultation meetings with businesses, I want to encourage all Bahamians to do their part in reducing their plastics and Styrofoam use,” he added.

Dominica bans Styrofoam and plastic items

ROSEAU, Dominica, Jul 27, CMC- The Dominica government says it will ban the use of Styrofoam and certain plastic items from January 1, next year.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told Parliament that that the decision is in keeping with his administration’s vision to have the island become the first climate resilient country in the world.

“Madam Speaker, consistent with the Government’s vision to create the world’s first climate resilient nation, our designation as “The Nature Isle” and our commitment to protect Mother Earth, effective 1st January 2019, a number of items considered to be inimical to the environment will be banned.

“These will include the following: plastic straws, plastic plates, plastic forks, plastic knives, Styrofoam cups, Styrofoam containers,” Skerrit said, adding that that the necessary legislation to enforce the ban will soon be prepared.

“We must in every way deserve and reflect that designation,” he said of the island being known as the “Nature Isle”.

He said the issue of solid waste management affects the perception of Dominica as the Nature Island and his government continues to grapple with the problem.

“In a previous budget address, I announced a decision to restrict the importation of non-biodegradable containers and plastic implements used in food service. This matter has not proceeded as quickly as we would have liked, as we wanted to ensure that we implemented that policy without compromising our obligations under the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. (that governs the Caribbean Community (CARICOM))

“It is acceptable for a country to adopt measures which will help in the preservation of the environment,” he added.

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Antigua shows strongest air arrivals in 15 years

Antigua shows strongest air arrivals in 15 years

by STAFF WRITER

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jul. 18,  CMC – Antigua and Barbuda tourism officials say that for the first time in over 15 years, the country has seen the strongest overall visitor arrivals by air from January to June. 

The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) said it recorded 148,139 arrivals for that period with significant increases in the key source markets – the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and the Caribbean. 

ABTA said this represents an overall seven per cent increase over 2017. 

It said the closest the destination previously came to these figures was in 2008.

The authority said June demonstrated significant increases while Canada has the greatest year-over-year increase with over 170 per cent, followed by the US , the  Caribbean   and the United Kingdom .

In addition, ABTA said the destination is seeing an average 11.57 per cent increase in sea arrivals  and an average 8.6 per cent growth in occupancy rates.

This growth is set to continue with significant increased airlift from North America in the Fall 2018, the opening of the destination’s newest 5-star resort and spa, Hodges Bay, in October 2018, as well as a full cruise schedule.

“We are excited by this positive momentum in growth of arrivals, both by cruise and air,” said Minister of Tourism, Economic Development and Investment, Charles “Max” Fernandez. 

“It is incredibly encouraging for the tourism industry, and I would like to congratulate the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, the private sector, stakeholders and all our tourism partners in helping us to reach these positive results for the first six months of the year,” he added. 

“We will not rest on our laurels, and are striving for better,” Fernandez continued. “We will continue to invest in infrastructure and service and raise awareness of Antigua and Barbuda to ensure we see consistent growth in arrivals.” 

ABTA chief executive officer, Colin C. James, said the first half of 2018 has shown “incredible improvement, especially in our key source markets.

“We look forward to relentlessly working towards attracting new and returning visitors, improving our on-island tourism products, as well as increasing access through our award-winning airport and port,” he said. 

“We are doubling our airlift out of Miami, introducing new direct service out of New York and Canada, and welcoming new cruise ships to an already busy schedule,” he added.

 

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