Archive | TOURISM

Minister of Business with responsibility for Tourism, Dominic Gaskin.

Congress adopts Declaration of Georgetown

By Rene Seon

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Mar 23, CMC – The 24th Inter-American Ministerial Congress on Tourism has ended here with the adoption of the “Declaration of Georgetown” that forms the basis for the development of partnerships for the growth of the tourism industry in the Americas.

Guyana’s Minister of Business with responsibility for Tourism, Dominic Gaskin, who chaired the conference, noted that a lot of the topics discussed were “very relevant to Guyana.

Minister of Business with responsibility for Tourism, Dominic Gaskin.

“We have a lot to learn. We are fairly young as a tourism destination. To have all these expertise from different countries in the same room is very good exposure for us,” he said, adding “it was very valuable for us and it gave us a sense of where we are and where we need to go with tourism in Guyana.”

Executive Secretary for Integral Development of the Organisation of American States, Kim Osborne, said “what we had was strong indications of support, collaboration and co-operation between and among countries, to share dialogue and experiences, to share lessons learnt and good practices; to the extent that member states have offered co-operation to each other. We are grateful for the outcome of the meeting.

“Guyana did an amazing job at hosting and showing the product it has to offer. I think it hosting this ministerial congress really positions it as an emerging destination in the Americas with the flora and fauna, and amazing natural products. It is something people were not really aware of, and it was an opportunity to tell the rest of the Americas what Guyana has to offer.”

Earlier, a senior Caribbean tourism official said building resilience in the Caribbean tourism sector is a much broader subject than just focusing on structural resilience, as economic resilience is equally vital for the survival of the sector.

Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Hugh Riley, told the Congress on Thursday, that the issue of building resilience is important and timely, since the Caribbean “is the most dependent tourism region on the planet.

“No one wants to minimize the importance of rebuilding better and stronger, but economic resilience goes much further than just building codes,” Riley said, adding “every dollar spent on effective risk management and risk reduction is equal to three to five dollars in savings.”

He said it is money that the “CTO don’t have to spend on rebuilding of we do the right thing upfront.”

Riley said if the Caribbean and the Americas are serious about being economic resilient, advocacy must be a mandate and that a sustainable marketing fund should be created, because marketing the Caribbean brand collectively and effectively is critical.

He said that if the countries pooled their resources together they will be a “powerful force to recon with out there in this competitive business” noting that brand leadership is a fundamental factor in building a resilient Caribbean tourism sector.

Riley said a case for building the Caribbean brand is, losing global market share and growth rate is slowing down and that other countries have seen the importance of tourism and has now joined the business.

“The pie has increased but not our share,” he said, making mention of the two category 5 hurricanes that hit some of the Caribbean islands last year causing death, and widespread damage to infrastructure.

He said even though all the islands in the Caribbean were not affected directly by the storms, there was collateral damage because of the misunderstanding of the geography of the Caribbean to onlookers, who thought the entire region was destroyed.

“If we have to tell our own story though, we have to have a pool of resources available to do so effectively. If a disaster strikes our countries are going to be focused correctly on rebuilding their infrastructure… they should not have to be worrying about the next dollar to market the region.”

Riley said that the message has to be right and ready.

“A fund has to be available to turn that faucet on because a disaster is going to occur at some point, and if we think that what happen in September last year was a one-time thing then we are hallucinating. It can happen at any time to anyone one of us. So we have to have be prepared for it and have that sustainable fund available to call on it when we need it.”

The next Congress will be held in Paraguay in 2021.


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As a courtesy to our readers and the many who enquired about the ferry service through this medium, we provide the following submitted to us ‘for information’…

The Access Division has made arrangements to ensure persons leaving Montserrat in the coming days make their international flight connections in Antigua.

On Monday March 19th, 2018, the MV Lovely 1, with a capacity of 350, will leave Montserrat at 7:00am. Passengers are advised to check in 2 and a half hours before departure to allow early boarding of the vessel. The MV Lovely 1 will depart Antigua at 3:00pm with passengers for Luciano’s show at Salem Park.

On Tuesday March 20, 2018, the MV Lovely 1 will depart Montserrat at 7:00am. Check in time is at 4:30am to facilitate the early departure of the vessel.

The MV Jaden Sun will be on standby in the morning and will take additional passengers to Antigua if necessary. The ferry is however, scheduled to depart Montserrat at 5:00pm; leaving Antigua at 7:30pm.

On Wednesday March 21, 2018, the MV Jayden Sun will depart Montserrat at 6:30am and arrive in Antigua at 8:00am. The MV Jayden Sun will then leave Antigua at 7:00pm and arrive in Montserrat at 8:30pm.

Two trips will be scheduled on Wednesday if necessary.

For more information please contact Mr. Roosevelt Jemmotte on 496-9912 or Crenston Buffonge on 392-8731.


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Express posted this 2006 picture of the volcano

UK newspapers endanger Montserrat, again

Express posted this 2006 picture of the volcano

by Bennette Roach

It wouldn’t be the first time that UK Newspapers have distorted and published information that turned out unfavourable and detrimental to the Island. We can point to the recent not so old publications regarding the development of fibre optic service to Montserrat, touted strongly and convincingly as a ‘game changer’ for economy starved British Overseas Territory.

Publication of articles like this with this kind of information is reminiscent of 1997-8 when the UK Government authorities broadcasted and said that there might be a ‘cataclysmic eruption’ that would cause Montserrat to completely evacuated. The result of that in spite of vehement denial of that situation from the Government and scientists on Montserrat, it was not until 2008 the UK relented on the misinformation.

Very cleverly written, if not with some dishonesty. If one doesn’t read carefully, you will miss that Professor Neuberg is not the one saying, ‘Sadly, Montserratians must continue to wait.’

 The only information attributed to Professor Neuberg is the following: “Except for the gas plume there is nothing visible on the surface, but the instruments show us clearly that the deformation is ongoing and the entire island is still inflating,”

With all the observations and opinions inserted, some of the information is far from up to date, even though they claimed they were reporting on very recent information. Like the population of Montserrat today.

Soufriere Hills mountain, March 5, 2018

As the Director Stewart observes the Express was even more damning in its reporting on this matter. Alarmist! This leads to an opinion that the article is planted with intention to deceive, and one that should be investigated at the highest level.

Ash and lava are visible inside the cone of the Soufrière Hills volcano, seen from Olveston, Montserrat, in January 2007. Photograph: Wayne Fenton/AP

The Guardian’s article: Montserrat Volcano remains a risk

The Express gives an update and asks – Montserrat’s volcano update: Is the terrifying volcano at risk of imminent  eruption

These newspapers have carried articles that when they are given these thoughts to report on, should cause them to worry about accuracy and honesty.

Here MVO director sets the record straight.

Statement on the Status of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat

Following the publication on 7 March 2018 of two articles in UK newspapers (The Guardian and The Express), members of the public have expressed concerns about the current status of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat (SHV), particularly with reference to ground deformation. Monitoring data recorded and interpreted by Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) shows no changes that suggest that new activity is imminent. The newspaper articles are misleading and, in the case of The Express, alarmist.

Since the end of the last phase of lava extrusion on 11 February 2010, MVO has observed a slow, steady movement of the ground surface across the whole of Montserrat using data recorded by our network of very precise Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. The news articles in question report on research being carried out by MVO in collaboration with Professor Jurgen Neuberg (University of Leeds, UK) that seeks to understand this trend. The research suggests that, since February 2010, the underground magma system that feeds the SHV has been slowly recharged by the influx of magma at depth. This causes the pressure inside the system to increase, which is then seen as upwards and outwards movement of the ground surface around the volcano.

The news articles suggest that the research has produced new information. In the Express article this, when combined with a very small swarm of small-magnitude earthquakes on 25 February 2018, indicates that a new eruption may be imminent. This is not the case. Brief swarms of such earthquakes have occurred on more than one hundred occasions since 2007.

All the data recorded by MVO since the last surface activity in February 2010 follows a consistent long-term trend which was also characteristic of four previous pauses in activity. The overall earthquake activity has been relatively low; the observed deformation pattern shows slow inflation, and the sulphur dioxide gas output is between 200 and 400 tons per day.

The restrictions on access to some areas of Montserrat have been in place for many years and all visits to these areas, including for economic activity, are closely controlled and very carefully managed.



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Appreciation for communication will bring about unity

Appreciation for communication will bring about unity

March 16, 2018

This past weekend there was a prominent person who commented in the presence of a good cross section of women in the community, visitors included, that they “read the newspaper, yes, The Montserrat Reporter… it is always saying all things about me…!”

Without looking around, the wondering thought flashed, how many of these present, if any at all, would say the same thing. Moments later, a lady visiting since January 16, leaving right after the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, enquired where she can get a copy of TMR.

That was a very common recurring conversation, as only recently someone in Antigua personally sought, “how can I subscribe to get the newspaper?” They pointed out that it is just not convenient to do read it on the computer (a very computer literate person).

Much of the problems and difficulties faced over the past two weeks and affecting the festival have come from poor communication. Governors come and go, the last at the end of her first function made the observation at the end of teh event. But when she left, her communication effort left enough to be desired.

From here it seems much we do is lament. There is this This is a very serious situation that ‘communication’ without which (whether blind, mute, any disability) it is a must has hit a rock bottom, unthinkable. So this lament, is done with the hope that soon, very soon, there will be light and everyone, not just a few, will smile, realities of the dream and the efforts of what is being preached about the day, in the week we commemorate and celebrate.

Plenty has been said, even though no one event or writing has said all. The suggestion is that every one, the young, not so young, the old and the not so old, all is the way it is communicated and understood. Why? Everyone can come to a better understanding creating in their own minds whatever they want to, especially if based on their own sensible experiences.

Ah yes, it is dangerous when someone speaks their heart out about an experience as they cry for a ‘coming together in support of each other’ for another to say, referencing what they just heard, not just once, that the state they describe is ‘not true.’

Besides, inside and out of the debates, festivities and celebrations, we hope that by the climax of the week on Saturday, March 17, 2018, all will leave with disappointments included, everyone saying, it is possible to take in all, none of which may be complete in themselves, and we will hear a chorus, this is worth it.

This 250th year after that uprising by the ‘enslaved’, the new word which we believe it is hoped would change the ‘mentality’ harboured about the era, making it more comfortable to think and talk about it.

It seemed to some that unity was the cause of the failure. And the glaring truth is, not necessarily so throughout the Caribbean but definitely in Montserrat, unity is so lacking, as it saps even the perceived decency to fall deed in the same mire. That sadly is the position seen of Montserrat. And at the end of the day there are those who abuse and gloat and all, believing wrongly they are more intelligent.

Claude Hogan’s lecture delivery brings out the point, perhaps not as directly as we make it sound here, as he discussed the probably seemingly obscure topic of ‘masquerading’, noting a good aspect of communication. “What can he say about that?” was a question seriously asked. Will there be agreement that there was not a boring moment during that 55-minute lecture?

Very well discussed, and may well be his best oration to date. Here is a small quote near the end of his delivery: “The UK has good practices in providing people and community security to allow development to happen…call on the British Government our Administering Power, to move safeguarding to beyond child ‘anti-sexualization’, illegal marijuana and the like, to dealing with social uplifting behaviours. They should help us build and restore systems of governance that rely on merit, fairness and equity…”

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IICA backs CARICOM efforts to turn the Caribbean into the first region resilient to climate change

 SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, Mar 2, CMC – The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) has pledged support for the efforts by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to become the first region resilient to climate change.

IICA said that its Director General Manuel Otero in keeping with the objectives expressed by regional leaders during the just concluded inter-sessional summit in Haiti, emphasized that the Institute pursues objectives similar to those outlined at the meeting.

agricultureHe said the fact that, as an organization entrusted with promoting agricultural development in the Americas, IICA’s work focuses on creating a more productive, inclusive and resilient agriculture.

“IICA, along with the President of Haiti, (Jovenel Moise) recognizes the region’s vulnerability to the severe effects of climate change, reflected in droughts, major hurricanes and floods, which are the most visible and increasingly intense phenomena experienced in the Caribbean and Central America.

“In this regard, it is timely to recall that strengthening cooperation in areas vulnerable to natural disasters was one of the concrete results achieved during the recent visit by the Director General of IICA to Ottawa, Canada, where agreements were reached with prestigious and active organizations such as the International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) to increase urgent and committed actions to tackle the most destructive effects of climate change on family agriculture.”

IICA said that these same objectives were discussed earlier this week in Washington by Otero and the Deputy Director General of IICA, Lloyd Day during meetings with private sector representatives and with high-ranking officials of the United States government and multilateral credit organizations.

The statement noted that in response to the concerns expressed by CARICOM leaders, IICA will continue its efforts to strengthen South-South cooperation by promoting increased exchanges of knowledge and experiences and intraregional trade to mitigate the region’s vulnerability to the devastating effects of natural disasters.

“IICA also acknowledges the efforts of the member states of CARICOM and congratulates them for the agreement signed in Port-au-Prince, aimed at supporting the reconstruction of the countries affected by hurricanes Irma, Maria and Matthew, in the context of their public policies to promote institutional strengthening, actions to mitigate natural disasters and resilience to climate change,” the statement added.

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Jamaica Observer

Crime, high youth unemployment said hampering economic growth in Caribbean

Jamaica Observer
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Police at a crime scene in Jamaica. An IMF blog says violent crime in the Caribbean is significantly higher than in any other region, with 6.8 per cent of the population affected versus a world average of 4.5 per cent.

WASHINGTON, DC, USA (CMC) — Economic growth in the Caribbean is being hampered by high unemployment among young people regarded as the highest in the world, and crime, according to IMFBlog , a forum for the views of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff and officials on pressing economic and policy issues.

In its “Chart of the Week”, the IMFBlog noted that the 2008 global financial crisis had an especially strong effect on the unemployment rate for those between the ages of 15 and 24, which jumped on average by five percentage points between 2007 and 2013, from 21 per cent to 26 per cent.

“In some countries, for example, the Bahamas, Barbados, and Jamaica, youth unemployment rates are nearly three times that of those aged 30 and over.”

The IMFBlog noted that the difficult job market has led to an increase in crime in many of the islands.

“In several Caribbean countries, crime has risen sharply since 2004 and murder rates are now among the highest in the world.

“More specifically, violent crime in the Caribbean is significantly higher than in any other region, with 6.8 per cent of the population affected versus a world average of 4.5 per cent, according to a recent IMF book, Unleashing Growth and Strengthening Resilience in the Caribbean,” the IMFBlog added.

It said that about 40 per cent of the Caribbean population identifies crime and security-related issues as the biggest problem facing their countries, even more than pov­erty or inequality.

According to the 2012 United Nations Caribbean Human Development Report, young people are both the primary victims and perpetrators of crime in the region.

Victims of violent crime are mainly between the ages of 18 to 30 and from lower levels of income, while 80 per cent of prosecuted crimes were committed by people aged 17 to 29 years.

The IMFBlog argued, too, that efforts to fight crime will require an integrated solution.

“Balancing crime-suppression programmes with prevention — including youth vocational training that increases job opportunities in the formal sector and keeps youth off the street, targeting interventions in high-crime areas, and developing indicators to more accurately monitor the effectiveness of anti-crime programmes can deliver good results.”

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Three Sheets Northwest

PNW sailors rescued after capsize in Caribbean 600 race

Three Sheets Northwest
Just after 8 p.m. on February 19th, the Paul Bieker-designed catamaran Fujin, which hails from Seattle and had an experienced local crew aboard, capsized near the island of Saba during the RORC Caribbean 600 race. All eight crewmembers have been rescued and are safe.

Here’s an interview with Fujin owner Greg Slyngstad courtesy of Louay Habib:

This is a developing story and Three Sheets will provide updates on the incident when they become available.

Here’s a quick summary from the RORC Caribbean 600:

Greg Slyngstad’s American Bieker 53 multihull Fujin has capsized during the RORC Caribbean 600. All eight crew are safe.

Stephen Cucchiaro’s Gunboat 60 Flow stood by until Dutch/ French authorities organized a rescue vessel. Preparations are now underway to transfer all crew to the safety of Port Saba.

RORC Race Manager Chris Stone issued a statement on behalf of the race organisers, The Royal Ocean Racing Club:

“On Monday 19th February at 20:20 AST, Fujin capsized close to Saba Island and the eight-man crew were observed standing on the up-turned hull. All of the crew are now safe. Stephen Cucchiaro’s Gunboat 60 Flow stood by while rescue agencies co-ordinated the rescue efforts.
Jens Kellinhusen’s German Ker 56 Varuna altered course to assist, but has now continued racing. The Coastguard at Fort De France Martinique has been co-ordinating the rescue.”

The highly experienced crew on Fujin from Seattle, Washington, USA include the skipper Greg Slyngstad, the boat’s designer, Paul Bieker and Olympic Gold medallist Jonathan McKee.

Fujin’s Crew: Greg Slyngstad, Bradley Baker, Peter F Johnston, Paul Bieker, Gina Borza, Fritz Lanzinger, Michael Leslie, Jonathan McKee.

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“Sad day for Bermuda” says couple who fought for same-sex marriage

“Sad day for Bermuda” says couple who fought for same-sex marriage


HAMILTON, Bermuda, Feb 8, CMC  –  A gay couple whose landmark Supreme Court victory last year paved the way for same-sex marriages in the island have spoken of their “sadness” after Governor John Rankin signalled the end of such unions,  that will be replaced by civil partnerships.

The end for same-sex marriages in this British Overseas Territory and aboard Bermuda-registered cruise ships came when Rankin gave the royal assent to the Domestic Partnership Act 2017 on Wednesday.

Rankin signed the legislation 61 days after it was passed in the House of Assembly and 56 days in the wake of its approval by the Senate.

Rankin said he signed the new act into law “after careful consideration in line with my responsibilities under the constitution”.

The move ended weeks of speculation over whether Britain would allow the legislation, and dashed the hopes of activists in Bermuda and overseas who had asked Rankin to reject the new law.

It follows a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in May 2017, when Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons ruled that the island’s Registrar-General could not reject a gay couple’s application to marry in Bermuda.

The decision paved the way for same-sex marriage on the island, and the first same-sex couple made their vows at the Registry-General’s office less than a month later.

The judgment was the result of a lawsuit brought by a gay couple, Winston Godwin, a Bermudian, and his Canadian partner Greg DeRoche, against the Registrar-General’s decision to refuse to post their wedding banns. The pair eventually wed in Canada but at least eight other gay couples were married on the island, according to British opposition Labour Party MP Chris Bryant.

Godwin said he and his partner were “deeply saddened” by the Governor’s decision.

“It’s a sad day for Bermuda. It’s a sad day for human rights.

The Governor was placed between a rock and a hard place with this poorly planned and rushed bill,” Godwin said.

But he told the island’s LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community: “While Greg and I were the face of this case, we represented every single one of you and helped to give a voice to those that didn’t have one.

“Because of you, we were able to make a difference in the lives of eight couples and that’s something that shouldn’t be understated or forgotten.

“You are all loved and are worthy of love.”

Lawyer Mark Pettingill, a former Attiorney-General, said the battle for the return of same-sex marriage in Bermuda could end up in Europe’s highest courts.

Pettingill said the royal assent meant that any further legal action would need to be heard in higher courts.

Pettingill, who fought the May 2017 Supreme Court case that paved the way for same-sex marriage, added: “This is now something that would necessarily invite consideration beyond our shores. There is potential for a challenge going all the way to the European courts.”

He added: “I take the view, as do a number of other lawyers, that there is a case to be heard on the basis of the rights enshrined in our constitution.

“The question becomes, are there any relevant parties that are prepared to take up that fight?”

Pettingill said: “I feel that potential is there. Unfortunately, there are the risks of losing, which would probably incur substantial legal costs.

“These things are not cheap to run. Anybody who decided to take up that challenge as a litigant would have to think very carefully about the possibility that they could lose, and the risks involved.”

Home Affairs Minister Walton Brown, who tabled the legislation in the House last November, said the act represented “a compromise piece of legislation which does not bring any high level of satisfaction to any side” in the island’s long-running row over same-sex marriage.

Speaking from London, Brown said the provisions of the act were “the only position that could be taken at this point”.

“This difficult piece of legislation was developed in such a way as to ensure that it fully complies with our constitution.Clearly anyone has the right to challenge anything they want, but it must be a challenge with merit,” Brown noted.

Same-sex marriage and civil unions were voted on in a non-binding referendum in June 2016.

The referendum failed to attract the 50 per cent minimum of registered voters needed to rule that questions were “answered”.

But those who did vote rejected both same-sex marriage and civil unions by a margin of more than two to one.

Brown said on Wednesday night the referendum showed that the majority of Bermudians did not support same-sex marriage.

But the Governor’s decision attracted fast condemnation from overseas.

Bryant, a former Overseas Territories Minister who called for the House of Commons debate in London last month, said on Wednesday night: “This totally undermines UK efforts to advance LGBT rights.”

Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, said during the Commons debate that Britain was “disappointed” by Bermuda’s decision to reverse marriage equality.

Ty Cobb, director at Washington-based Human Rights Campaign Global, called the move a “deplorable action”.

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and chief executive of New York’s Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, added: “LGBTQ couples and their children in Bermuda should know that the global community of LGBTQ people and allies will stand with them in rectifying this unjust and hurtful news.

“Love can never be rolled back.”

Clare O’Connor, a Bermudian journalist working overseas, promised to do her to best to damage the island as a tourist destination.

“I will be encouraging my LGBTQ friends to spend their money elsewhere,” she said.

“This is despicable and I hope the (ruling) Progressive Labour Party and Governor understand the damage they’ve done.”

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Caribbean hits 30 million mark in stay over visitors

Caribbean hits 30 million mark in stay over visitors


 Barbados, Feb. 15, CMC – The Caribbean set a record with 30 million in stay over arrivals for the first time in 2017, even as the region battled the effects of catastrophic hurricanes.

The figures were released on Thursday 15th by the Barbados based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

According to the CTO’s acting director of research,  Ryan Skeete,  the visitors contributed US$37 billion to Caribbean economies during the 12-month period, up 2.6 per cent over 2016.

The tourism researcher explained that stay-over arrivals were on track for a strong performance during the first-half of 2017, growing by an estimated 4.8 per cent, but growth was curtailed in the second half of the year by the storms, which were largely responsible for a1.7 per cent drop between July and December.

“These outcomes resulted in an overall increase of 1.7 per cent in 2017, making it the eighth consecutive year of growth, albeit slower than the average global growth rate of 6.7 per cent.

The CTO official explained that strong economic performance in the main markets helped spur the region’s performance, with some destinations recording strong double-digit growth, although the hurricane-affected countries were down between seven per cent and 18 per cent.

The United States continued to be the primary market, growing by about 0.5 per cent to reach an estimated 14.9 million visits to the region due mainly to solid economic growth, low unemployment and high consumer confidence; while the Canadian market rebounded strongly, recording a 4.3 per cent increase in arrivals, compared to a decline of 3.1 per cent in 2016.

However, it was the European market that recorded the strongest growth rate, increasing by 6.2 per cent to 5.8 million visitors, with the United Kingdom up by 2.9 per cent to 1.3 million.

The increase in arrivals was not reflected in hotel occupancy, which fell by 1.2 per cent, according to STR (formerly Smith Travel Research), a U.S. company that tracks supply and demand data for the hotel industry. However, both average daily rate and revenue per available room recorded increases, though slightly.

“Notably, the hotel performance indicators excluded most of the hurricane-impacted destinations at this time, due to the disruption in operations caused by the hurricanes,” Skeete said.

The cruise sector also set a new high of 27 million passengers, 2.4 per cent higher than 2016, despite the hurricanes.

“The cruise passenger performance mirrors the performance of tourist arrivals, as it grew strongly by 4.6 per cent in the first half of 2017, but contracted marginally  – by 0.4 per cent – in the second half of the year. Indeed, cruise passenger arrivals fell dramatically in September by some 20 per cent. However, growth resumed in October, which saw a two per cent increase,” the CTO official said.

The CTO said the economic conditions are expected to be favourable for further growth in 2018, therefore it predicts growth of two to three per cent in both stay-over and cruise arrivals.

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Improvements in economic prospects for Caribbean/Latin America – IMF

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, CMC – The International Monetary Fund (IMF), says economic prospects for the region are generally improving and modest growth is expected in 2018 and 2019.

The IMF, in its Regional Economic Outlook Update for Latin America and the Caribbean, released on Thursday, said the positive outlook is supported by growth in the United States following the recent U.S. tax reform.

IMFFHowever, the international lending agency noted that some of the islands that were hit hard during the 2017 hurricane season face a protracted recovery.

One such country is Dominica.

“In Dominica,  gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to decline by 16 percent in 2018, before rebounding in 2019 as reconstruction gathers pace.”

The IMF also noted that overall, recent trends in the world economy and financial markets are good news for  the Caribbean and Latin America.

“Global growth and trade are on an upswing, and we expect the momentum to continue in 2018.  Stronger commodity prices have also helped the region rebound.”

The report said consumption and exports were the main growth drivers last year and the recovery is broad based across the region.

“Encouragingly, investment is no longer a drag, and is expected to be an important factor behind the acceleration in output this year and next. Inflation came down significantly in 2017 in many countries, providing some scope for easing monetary policy.”

The Washington based lending agency said that while Mexico, Central America, and parts of the Caribbean are benefitting from stronger growth in the United States, growth in South America is mainly driven by the end of recessions in Brazil, Argentina, and Ecuador, as well as higher commodity prices.

It said that in the United States, reforms to U.S. corporate and personal income taxes passed in December 2017 will likely raise private investment and private consumption over the short term

The report also revealed that in Central America and the Dominican Republic, output growth remains robust, helped by stronger than anticipated remittances flows, improved financial conditions, and good harvests.

However it was also stated that some risks could hurt the region’s recovery – including upcoming elections in some countries  – an event that could cfreate economic and policy uncertainties in the next year.

“Pressures for inward-looking policies in advanced economies—including through a retreat from cross-border integration—and factors such as global geopolitical tensions and extreme weather events could compound these uncertainties.”

The IMF said  in looking beyond the near term, the region also faces serious medium-term challenges.

“As we have been emphasizing, despite the current economic acceleration, Latin America’s output growth is returning to an underwhelming mean. Subdued potential growth and downside medium-term risks call for further efforts to rebuild buffers and implement structural policies to address growth bottlenecks and improve resilience.”

The lending institution said countries that need to lower  fiscal deficits should give attention to the fine balance between preserving inclusive growth and stabilizing high public debt, which has been rising.

“To better withstand future shocks, maintaining exchange rate flexibility, and further improving central bank communication and transparency would increase the resilience and effectiveness of monetary policy,” the IMF stated.


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