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US Coast Guard

US Coast Guard intercepts vessels with nationals of Haiti and Domincan Republic

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Jan. 10, CMC – Forty undocmented aliens from the Dominican Republic and Haiti were intercepted by the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard and  the Puerto Rico Police Department on the weekendd as they attempted to reach Puerto Rico.

US Coast GuardOn Tuesday, security officials reported that on January 5, border patrol agents detected a vessel without navigational lights moving towards Aguada, Puerto Rico.

The agents coordinated for intercept with the US Coast Guard Command Center, and the PRPD Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA, for its Spanish acronym).

A FURA vessel intercepted a “yola” type vessel approximately four miles off the coast of Aguada, finding total of 12 undocumented migrants; four adult male Dominican Republic nationals, five adult female Dominican Republic nationals and three adult male Haitian nationals.

The group was detained and subsequently transferred to a Coast Guard Cutter.

Upon completing embarkation of 12 aliens ,the cutter crew identified and intercepted a second vessel with 28 subjects on board.

They were all detained and subsequently transferred to another vessel.

Biometric checks were conducted on all subjects and revealed that 10 aliens met the guidelines for prosecution related to prior criminal and immigration violations.

On Monday, the Coast Guard transferred 10 aliens to Border Patrol custody at the Mayaguez Port of Entry. The remaining 29 undocumented aliens were repatriated to the Dominican Republic.

So far this year, Border Patrol Agents have apprehended 89 aliens that have illegally entered or attempted to enter the United States via the Mona Passage.

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maduro

Venezuela orders cut off of air, sea traffic with three Caribbean neighbors

 

CARACAS, Jan  7, CMC – Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has ordered a temporary shutdown of air and maritime traffic with three Caribbean neighbors, accusing smugglers there of seeking to plunder his South American country.

maduroIn a televised address on Friday, Maduro said he had halted all flights and ship traffic to the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, known as the “ABC islands,” for 72 hours.

He accused the three countries of running black markets by siphoning everything from copper to food before selling the items.

“They take away gold from this country illegally, and make it legal to sell there; they take away coltan, they take away diamonds, they take away all food products,” Maduro said. “I didn’t want to take a measure like this one, but I am ready to take even more radical measures.”

The islands, which are short distances from Venezuela’s northern coast, have long hosted black markets for Venezuelan contraband, trading everything from illegally-mined minerals to narcotics, however, in recent times, the islands have become better known as the landing site of boats of Venezuelans fleeing the country.

According to reports, many refugees have fled illegally, so the closure is unlikely to stop those departures but it will prevent Venezuelans wishing to travel by air at a time when many airlines refuse to fly to the country because of safety concerns.

Aruba is the site of a large refinery that Citgo, the American subsidiary of Venezuela’s state oil company, has been touting plans to refurbish.

“I hope that during these 72 hours the leaders of these countries will take the measures we’ve asked for more than two years” against smugglers,  Maduro said. “Mafias are waging war on our electricity, they steal our copper and they sell it legally.”

Maduro has closed borders in the past after alleging that smugglers were robbing the country, especially at times when his government faces problems.

In late 2016, Maduro shut down the border with Colombia, alleging that mobsters there were hoarding currency, the paper said, adding that, the previous year, he had ordered a longer and declared a state of emergency along the same border, saying that food, fuel and other goods were being smuggled there.

The measures had little effect on smuggling in the area, residents said, but did prevent many thousands of Venezuelans from crossing the border to buy food during shortages.

Presently, Venezuela is also struggling with hyperinflation  and the Maduro administration ordered more than 200 supermarkets to cut prices back to last month’s levels.

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tax havenn

St. Lucia to introduce new tax measures to deal with EU blacklisting

 
CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Dec 11, CMC – The St. Lucia government says it will soon introduce new tax reform measures after the island was included among 17 countries worldwide on a new global list of tax havens by the European Union.

Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ubaldus Raymond said the new tax rules are likely to be unveiled in the new budget and denied that the island is a tax haven.

tax havennRaymond said that Castries has complied with all the requirements of international regulatory institutions and that Prime Minister Allen Chastanet signed the automatic exchange of information in November 2016.

Raymond said the main issue involves a harmonization of taxes which St Lucia is currently working to improve.

“St Lucia and other countries that were blacklisted, I want to make it clear, these were not institutions dodging the agreement or the requirements of these international institutions but it had more to do with the imbalance in the tax regime.

“Fortunately for St Lucia our government, the Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, we have already been engaging our local departments, Ministry of Finance, Inland Revenue Department, in working on a more harmonized tax system.”

Raymond said St. Lucia is hoping to be off the European Union tax haven blacklist “very soon,” adding that the island is awaiting official notification of the blacklisting from the European Union.

“I can say safely and very confidently, it will not take long before we are off that list because we are already, as a government, thinking in line of harmonized tax system,” Raymond added.

St. Lucia is among four Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries named last Tuesday in the new list of global tax havens. The other Caribbean countries are Barbados, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago.

EU finance ministers said the new list was drawn up after 10 months of investigations by EU officials.

They said the countries on the blacklist were not doing enough to crack down on offshore avoidance schemes. Potential sanctions that could be enforced on members of the list are expected to be agreed in the coming weeks.

The EU said that as a first step, a letter will be sent to all jurisdictions on the new list, explaining the decision and what they can do to be de-listed.

The other Caribbean islands listed as tax havens have also denounced the EU position and called for their removal as soon as possible.

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Lethem Airstrip. Photo: Andrew Short

Guyana to build third international airport at frontier town with Brazil

Lethem Airstrip. Photo: Andrew Short

By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — The government of Guyana plans to secure financing to upgrade and extend the runway and build a modern terminal at the Lethem airstrip with the intention of turning the airport into a “regional hub and international airport”. Lethem is a town close to the frontier of the Brazilian state of Roraima.

When the project is completed, Guyana will have three international airports.

The government is actively seeking a US$15 million loan to finance the project, which may finally open the frontier of Guyana to human settlement and development. This is important since the capital of Guyana, and low-lying areas along the coast are frequently inundated by heavy rainfall. For this reason, there has been a push to move the capital to the Essequibo region of Guyana.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan said on Monday during his 2018 budget presentation that the upgrade of the Lethem airstrip will allow for flights originating from Brazil and other Latin American neighbours to land there.

Meanwhile, the government has allocated GY$5 billion (US$24 million) to complete the upgrading of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), which includes the runway, rehabilitation of the arrivals terminal, and the construction of a departure terminal. The upgraded airport will be able to accommodate larger aircraft and handle an increased number of passengers, Jordan noted.

The upgrading of the Lethem airstrip to accommodate regional flights will definitely spur development of the sleepy frontier town in the hinterland of Guyana that borders Brazil.

There is no air connectivity between Guyana and Brazil despite sharing a long border. People must travel to Suriname, Panama or Miami to get to Brazil from Guyana.

The government did not disclose the length of the planned extended runway. The current runway is about 6,000 ft and can easily be extended due the favourable geography and availability of land. The length of the runway will indicate what type of aircraft will land there.

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plane crashh

Plane crash may have been due to engine failure-Report

 CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Croix, Dec 8, CMC – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says engine problems may have contributed to the fatal crash of a private chartered plane that killed all five people on board last Thursday.

The plane crashed soon after taking off from the Rohlsen Airport on Thursday night and the FAA in its preliminary report noted that the aircraft, which was on its way to St. Thomas, returned to the St. Croix airport because of engine problems.

plane crashhThe Beech aircraft with registration number N449A, was destroyed by fire on airport property, according to the FAA preliminary report.

A statement issued by the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) said the incident occurred at 8.45 pm (local time) and VIPA director, David Mapp, told reporters that no one had survived the wreck of the private plane.

Media reports said that among the casualties was a member of the Stylee Band, one of the territory’s premier groups, which is a highlight of the festival season.

Police Commissioner Delroy Richards told the media that the aircraft, a private chartered plane, took off from the St. Croix airport and soon after started experiencing engine problems, with flames coming from one of its two engines.

The names of the deceased have not yet been released.

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EGYPT-UNREST-SINAI

At least 235 killed in Egypt mosque attack

CBS News

EL-ARISH, Egypt — Militants attacked a crowded mosque during Friday prayers in the Sinai Peninsula, setting off explosives, spraying worshippers with gunfire and killing at least 235 people in the deadliest ever attack by Islamic extremists in Egypt.

The attack targeted a mosque frequented by Sufis, members of Islam’s mystical movement, in the north Sinai town of Bir al-Abd. Islamic militants, including the local ISIS affiliate, consider Sufis heretics because of their less literal interpretations of the faith.

The ISIS affiliate has been waging a stepped-up campaign of violence in northern Sinai for years and has claimed deadly bombings on churches in the capital, Cairo, and other cities, killing dozens of Christians. It also is believed to have been behind the 2016 downing of a Russian passenger jet that killed 226.

But this was the first major militant attack on a Muslim mosque and the startling bloodshed eclipsed any past attacks of its kind, even dating back to a previous Islamic militant insurgency in the 1990s.

EGYPT-UNREST-SINAI

Egyptians walk past bodies following a gun and bombing attack at the Rawda mosque, roughly 40 kilometers west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish, on November 24, 2017. A bomb explosion ripped through the mosque before gunmen opened fire on the worshippers gathered for weekly Friday prayers, officials said. 

Stringer / AFP/Getty Images

The militants opened fire from four off-road vehicles on worshippers inside the mosque during the sermon, blocking off escape routes from the area by blowing up cars and leaving the burning wrecks blocking the roads, three police officers on the scene said.

Victims including some 130 wounded were rushed to local hospitals, they added, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief reporters.

No one claimed responsibility immediately following the attack, but ISIS has targeted Sufis several times in the area in the past, notably beheading a leading Sufi religious figure, the blind sheikh Suleiman Abu Heraz, last year and posting photos of the killing online.

President Donald Trump condemned the “cowardly” attack on Twitter, and took the opportunity to tout the need for a border wall and travel ban, even though his most recent ban doesn’t affect Egypt. He also said he would be speaking with Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, later Friday.

Images circulating on social media showed dozens of bloodied bodies wrapped up in sheets laid across the mosque floor, while others revealed dozens of relatives queuing up outside the hospital as ambulances raced back and forth.

Resident Ashraf el-Hefny said many of the victims were workers at a nearby salt firm who had come for Friday services at the mosque, which had contained some 300 worshipers.

“Local people brought the wounded to hospital on their own cars and trucks,” he said by telephone.

Egypt’s state news agency reported the casualty toll, citing “official sources,” revising it upward several times following the officials’ initial reports.

MENA reported that Egypt’s presidency declared a three-day mourning period, as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi convened a high-level meeting of security officials.

Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has condemned the extremist attack on a mosque in the troubled Sinai Peninsula, calling it “criminal” and “cowardly” and expressing condolences to the victims and their families.

In a statement after the meeting, el-Sissi said the attack “will not go unpunished” and that Egypt will persevere with its war on terrorism. The suffering of the victims was not in vain, he added, and will only “add to our insistence” to combat extremists. Addressing the nation later on television, he repeated his view that Egypt was fighting a battle for the rest of the world.

Cairo’s international airport boosted security following the attack, with more troopers and forces seen patrolling passenger halls, conducting searches and manning checkpoints at airport approaches.

 

State condolences poured in for Egypt, including messages from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, the U.S., Russia, France and Britain condemning the violence.

Security forces have been battling militants in northern Sinai for years, but attacks to date have focused on military and police assets, although assassinations of individuals ISIS considers government spies or religious heretics are not uncommon.

Hundreds of soldiers and militants have been killed in the conflict, although exact numbers are unclear as journalists and independent investigators are banned from the area.

In September, ISIS militants ambushed a police convoy in Sinai, killing 18 police and wounding seven others in one of the deadliest attacks this year in the restive region bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip. 

The ongoing violence in Sinai shows the resilience of the militants there in the face of a years-long campaign to eradicate them by the military and police, which between them command far superior firepower, air support, heavy armor and larger numbers.

Egypt is also facing a growing number of attacks by militants in its Western Desert, including an attack last month that killed 16 police, according to an official tally issued by the Interior Ministry. Security officials have told journalists that dozens more, including high-ranking counterterrorism officers, perished in the Oct. 20 attack some 135 84 miles southwest of the capital, Cairo.

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Some in Houston wary of helping Puerto Rico

Hurricane relief concert: All 5 living ex-presidents put politics aside, call for unity

 By Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas  — The five living former presidents put aside politics and appeared together for the first time since 2013 at a concert on Saturday to raise money for victims of devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Democrats Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and Republicans George H.W. and George W. Bush gathered in College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University, to try to unite the country after the storms.

Texas A&M is home to the presidential library of the elder Bush. At 93, he has a form of Parkinson’s disease and appeared in a wheelchair at the event. His wife, Barbara, and George W. Bush’s wife, Laura, were in the audience.

Grammy award winner Lady Gaga made a surprise appearance at the concert that also featured country music band Alabama, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer ‘Soul Man’ Sam Moore, gospel legend Yolanda Adams and Texas musicians Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.

The appeal backed by the ex-presidents has raised $31 million since it began on Sept. 7, said Jim McGrath, spokesman for George H.W. Bush.

President Donald Trump offered a video greeting that avoided his past criticism of the former presidents and called them “some of America’s finest public servants.”

Some in Houston wary of helping Puerto Rico

Some in Houston wary of helping Puerto Rico

Those who voted for Trump debate how much support the federal government should give Puerto Rico.

“This wonderful effort reminds us that we truly are one nation under God, all unified by our values and devotion to one another,” Trump said in the greeting, played during the concert.

Four of the five former presidents — Obama, George W. Bush, Carter and Clinton — made brief remarks that did not mention Trump. The elder Bush did not speak but smiled and waved to the crowd. They appealed for national unity to help those hurt by the hurricanes.

“The heart of America, without regard to race or religion or political party, is greater than our problems,” said Clinton.

The last time the five were together was in 2013, when Obama was still in office, at the dedication of George W. Bush’s presidential library in Dallas.

There is precedent for former presidents joining forces for post-disaster fundraising. George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton raised money together after the 2004 South Asia tsunami and Hurricane Katrina the next year. Clinton and George W. Bush combined to seek donations after Haiti’s 2011 earthquake.

“It’s certainly a triple, if not a home run, every time,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “Presidents have the most powerful and prolific fundraising base of any politician in the world. When they send out a call for help, especially on something that’s not political, they can rake in big money.”

Much of Puerto Rico still dark, dry, frustrated

Much of Puerto Rico still dark, dry, frustrated

Much of the island lies in the chokehold of a turgid, frustrating and perilous slog toward recovery.

Amid criticism that his administration was initially slow to aid ravaged Puerto Rico, Trump accused island leaders of “poor leadership,” and later tweeted that, “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes” while saying that Federal Emergency Management Agency, first-responders and military personnel wouldn’t be able to stay there forever.

But Rottinghaus said ex-presidents are seen as less polarizing than the current president.

 

“They can’t get away from the politics of the moment,” he said of current White House occupants. “Ex-presidents are able to step back and be seen as the nation’s grandfather.”

Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 25, unleashing historic flooding in Houston and killing more than 80 people. Shortly thereafter, all five ex-presidents appeared in a commercial for a fundraising effort known as “One America Appeal.” In it, George W. Bush says, “People are hurting down here.” His father, George H.W. Bush, then replies, “We love you, Texas.”

Hurricane Irma subsequently hit Florida and Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, while both devastated the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A website accepting donations, OneAmericaAppeal.org, was created with 100 percent of proceeds pledged to hurricane relief.

Is Puerto Rico Trump's Katrina?

Is Puerto Rico Trump’s Katrina?

Though Trump has staunchly defended his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, his critics blame his slow response and mismanagement for turning the crisis into an even worse disaster.

–By Will Weissert

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Joy Jibrilu

Caribbean bracing for decline in visitor arrivals due to hurricane damage

By Linda Straker

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Oct 13, CMC – The Caribbean is predicting a slowdown in the growth of tourist arrivals for the remainder of the year as the region comes to grips with the destruction caused by three hurricanes that left trains of death and destruction when they made their way through the Lesser Antilles last month.

Chairman of the board of directors of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Joy Jibrilu, addressing a news conference on the final day of the State of the Tourist Industry Conference (SOTIC 2017), told reporters that the Caribbean had been performing at a healthy growth rate of 5.2 per cent between January and June, when compared to the same period last year.

Joy Jibrilu
Joy Jibrilu

She said that the growth during that period reflected economic stability in the market, expansion and inauguration of flights by major carriers, and new marketing and product development initiatives.

“During the first six months, the region recorded 16.6 million international tourist arrivals, some 800 thousand more than in the first six months of 2016. Growth was recorded in all major source markets except South America, which contracted by 14.3 per cent,” she said.

She said that up to June, the European market had grown by 7.9 per cent, Canada by 6.4 per cent and, despite the weak Sterling currency, the United Kingdom had registered 4.8 per cent growth.

Jibrilu said that the half-year outcomes reported by STR Global showed that average hotel occupancy increased marginally by 0.2 percentage points to 70.8 per cent, while the average daily room rate rose slightly by 0.2 per cent, moving from US$220.84 in 2016 to US$221.38 in 2017.

“Like tourist arrivals, growth in the cruise sector also remained positive and stronger than the expected performance in the first half of the year. At the end of the first six months of 2017, it is estimated that cruise passenger arrivals to the Caribbean region had reached 15.3 million, 4.0 per cent more than in the corresponding period of 2016. This performance represented the largest number of cruise passengers in the region at this time of year,” she said.

However, with the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the growth rate will slow down in the remaining quarters of the year. As a result, the expected growth rate of tourist arrivals will range between one and two per cent in 2017, with the 2018 performance expected to be similar she said.

Jibrilu told reporters that while being sensitive to the impacted members of the CTO family, “we were also challenged to consider ways to tell the world that most of the Caribbean remains open for business” following the storms.

“We recognised that there is a need by consumers, the media and even travel industry professionals, of a greater understanding of the geography of the region,” she said, adding that there was general agreement that the Caribbean – both public and private sectors – must find the funds to get the message out.

During the meeting here, delegates discussed ideas on how to emerge from the hard times, bigger, stronger and more sustainable and Jibrilu said it was also an opportunity for the affected countries to share their stories and garner support.

She said the discussions will help to inform into the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO),  Jamaica government, World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth, scheduled for November 27-29 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Jibrilu said Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Ed Bartlett, chaired a high-level meeting with the aim of developing a strategic framework for the establishment of a Global Caribbean Tourism Recovery Team (GCTRT) to coordinate the tourism product restoration efforts.

“It was agreed that a Global Caribbean Tourism Recovery Team (GCTRT) would be established under the chairmanship of Minister Bartlett, and would include representatives of the CHTA, CTO, the WTTC and the UNWTO,” she said, adding that a secretariat will be established, with responsibility for coordinating the technical support, capacity building, communication strategy, multilateral and bilateral agency engagement, as well as the management of public/private partnership arrangements regarding the restoration of the tourism product across the Caribbean.

The secretariat will have its first meeting later in October, when the formal strategic framework and governance structure will be developed.

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Dominica 8

Caribbean disaster experts to discuss ways to assist region during SOTIC conference

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Oct 4, CMC – Leading experts in disaster preparedness and mitigation, recovery, funding, airport development and maintenance among other stakeholders will meet in Grenada net week to discuss ways on how the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference in Jamaica in November can assist Caribbean countries battered by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett Wednesday said that the four hour discussions will be held on October 12 as part of the weeklong Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) to be held in St. George’s.

Dominica 8He said it is the hope that the outcome of the meeting could into the special session of the November 27-29 UNWTO conference in Jamaica “and that a document will emerge from SOTIC which will help to inform that session at the Jamaica/UNWTO summit”.

“Recover & Rebuild will focus on the economic cost of the disasters, including the potential impact on gross domestic product, employment, the cost to rebuild and the recovery time. Key recommendations emerging from Recover & Rebuild will form part of the comprehensive document which we believe will have industry-wide international significance,” Bartlett said.

He said he was urging all stakeholders within the tourism industry to attend both the Grenada and Jamaica meetings adding that “these two crucial events will help set the course for recovery and growth for all of us over the next year and shape the future of tourism for the Caribbean region”.

Several Caribbean countries, notably, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St. Maarten were battered by the hurricanes last month as they made their way through the Lesser Antilles leaving a trail of death and destruction estimated at billions of dollars.

Bartlett said that Jamaica “continues to extend our thoughts and prayers to our Caribbean brothers and sisters” and recognises that the entire Caribbean region will be adversely impacted by the lasting results of two hurricanes.

He said Kingston has recognised the efforts of the Barbados-based CTO, in conjunction with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) as well as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) in assisting the region and ensuring that timely and accurate information is disseminated.

“We are aware that CTO and CDEMA technical teams have been on the ground in the various islands doing rapid needs assessments and coordinating with the national authorities in managing the various interventions, to mitigate the pain and hardships that are so pervasive at this time.”

He said a meeting held last month in China of the UNWTO and attended by 10 countries from the Caribbean and Latin America agreed on the need “to assist in the Caribbean natural disaster risk management and response initiatives” and to include in the Jamaica conference an opportunity for all interested parties to discuss and implement a plan of action.

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Karolin Toubetzkoy

Regional hoteliers launch “One Caribbean Family” initiative

MIAMI, Oct 3, CMC – The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has launched a booking initiative that allows hotels across the region to help those who have been adversely impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The CHTA said that the initiative will also highlight the fact that more than 70 per cent of Caribbean destinations have not been affected and are ready to welcome visitors as usual.

Karolin Toubetzkoy
Karolin Toubetzkoy

CHTA said that it’s “One Caribbean Family” movement has been developed to help the vital tourism industry get back on its feet and will serve as a hub for hotels, travel advisors and tour operators who would like to make a contribution through guest bookings.

It said donations made through the initiative are sent to the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund managed by Tourism Cares, a non-profit organization which has partnered with CHTA to anchor the tourism industry’s hurricane recovery efforts in the Caribbean.

“We want to show our solidarity with the Caribbean countries affected by these storms, not just in words but with actions that can bring relief to those in need,” said CHTA president, Karolin Troubetzkoy.

She said while she is encouraged by the initial pledges of support for the One Caribbean Family initiative by some of the region’s hotels and international tour operators and travel advisors, she would like to see more Caribbean hotels and trade partners come on board.

“How can any hotel or hotel chain in the region and our trade partners feel good about securing incremental business as a result of hotel closures due to hurricanes?”

“While this may sound idealistic, the need to come together and act as one Caribbean tourism family has never been greater,” she said, applauding the tourism industry partners who have launched fundraising initiatives of their own, but hopes these will not deter them from also participating in the One Caribbean Family initiative.

“To bring aid to the countries and the people who were affected will be an enormous task, and the One Caribbean Family initiative is a unique way to spread the good word that most of the Caribbean is open for business while helping those destinations most in need,” she opined.

Troubetzkoy said her company is pledging to donate up to US$50 for each booking for travel between October 1, 2017 and December 19, 2018.

“We started this pledge for direct reservations and bookings through our travel advisors, but now we are also including some wholesalers who will match our donation,” she said, adding that guests wishing to make additional contributions to the Fund will receive resort credits up to US$250, depending on their contribution.

“When any part of the region is affected, it hits us so close to home, because the entire Caribbean is our home,” she said, adding “this is one tangible way our tourism community can stand in solidarity with our neighbours.”

The Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund allows tourism industry stakeholders and friends of the region throughout the world to pool their resources in support of vulnerable, devastated parts of the Caribbean that welcome millions of visitors in a region that supports 2.4 million tourism-related jobs.

The Fund’s focus on the recovery of islands directly affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria complements existing relief efforts and gives the tourism industry a way to leverage its resources to help the region bounce back, ideally better than before.

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