Category Archives: Caribbean News

Caribbean News from the Caribbean Regions and the Windward Islands

Sandals Concessions Too Late to Make a Difference to Tourism Industry!

Adrian Loveridge - Hotelier

Adrian Loveridge

Even if the repeatedly broken promises confirming that all registered hotels will qualify for the same concessions given to Sandals last year came into practical effect this week, it is now far too late for the vast majority of properties to make any meaningful use of them this year, at least in terms of major upgrading. Whether it was Government’s honest intention or not, Sandals look like they will re-open with an enhanced quality product advantage in late January 2015 that virtually every other hotel cannot hope to compete with.

Again, it’s important to repeat that like most other tourism businesses we welcome the group’s arrival and in the long term hope that it will drive additional investment and upgrading on a level playing field. Despite the continued speculation about added airlift, it simply will not happen until the Beaches property is hopefully completed in a yet indeterminate number of years from now. The short term reality is that we have lost a potential 25,000 airline seats in the interim reconstruction period. That would not have happened if the former Casuarina/Couples hotel had remained open. Only time will tell if punishing around 5,000 rooms, while rewarding just 280 will prove to be a sustainable long term solution to the overall industry challenges.

In hindsight it’s perhaps easy to see how this situation developed. The trappings of a private corporate jet, a luxury yacht, well oiled and orchestrated publicity machine with seemingly impressive amounts of money running into tens of millions being mentioned almost every day. Continue reading

FDI the Intoxicant of Caribbean Politicians

Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas (left) and Premier Vance Amory

Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas (left) and Premier Vance Amory

Some interesting developments have been unfolding in the Caribbean in recent years and have increasingly gained public attention of late. Those of us who have an interest in the politics of the region observed the ‘clash’ that occurred in the parliament of St. Kitts and Nevis last week between Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas and Premier Vance Amory of Nevis. The issue which sparked the conflict has to do with “an attempted sale of Crown lands by the Nevis Island Administration to an Iraqi national and funds alleged to have been sent to the federation as payment for the proposed sale” – PM and premier square off in parliament over Nevis petition . Prime Minister Douglas suggested there was alleged fraud associated with the transaction and called for an investigation to which Amory asked the Speaker to have to have the statement withdrawn.

In the build up to the 2008 General Election Barbados Underground posted frequently on the subject of land use policy (or lack of) in Barbados, citing reasons that were also applicable to the region. St. Kitts and Nevis is an example of a Caribbean country that has shifted to a 100% service based economy with tourism and foreign direct investment (FDI) now driving the economy. If we are to listen to some pundits in the local media who are impressed by the progress made by St. Kitts and Nevis, and recommend a similar economic model for Barbados, recent events should alert to the dangers of doing business with foreign investors from non Western countries. There is a saying one cannot have two masters. In the case of Barbados with a heavy reliance on international business anchored in Canada and the United States we should exercise caution.

BU’s read of the region, Guyana included, is that our governments are resigned to implementing a policy of attracting foreign direct investment as a key driver of economic activity. This approach has taken on an urgency in the last five years post meltdown of the global economy because traditional growth structures have been decimated.

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LIME Disappointing

Supported Anton Brathwaite
LIME customer service questioned.

LIME customer service questioned.

My father’s LIME telephone has been out of order for the past 36 hours due to a technical fault at LIME. All telephones carried on fibre optic were out of order when the fault first started but some have been restored. I called at 10 pm Barbados time on Wednesday to report the fault to LIME Call Center but was frustrated by the responses which I got from the persons answering the phone at 1-800-804-2994. Obviously English is not the first language of the country where the call center was located at that time. I asked one of the technical assistants if he was aware of problems on the fibre optic network since my father recently had his phone switched from the old copper cable landline to fibre optic cable. Lord Have His Mercy, it was like asking him a nuclear physics question.

After several meaningless rantings, he told me that he would get a technician from Barbados to visit my father’s home. I told him that I was reporting a fault on the fibre optic cable and not the old copper cable and furthermore the LIME TV and Internet which shared services with the telephone on the fibre optic cable, were up and running so it was not necessary for anyone to visit his home. I am not technically trained but common sense told me that by a process of elimination, there was/is nothing wrong with the cable to my father’s home nor the Galaxy modem but it all had to do with LIME in-house. This was later confirmed by a Jamaican LIME technical assistant when the Call Center was switched for daytime control from wherever it was during the night to Jamaica.

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Gun Violence on the Rise

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank and Watchdog Group
Gun crime on the rise in the Caribbean

Gun crime on the rise in the Caribbean

There was a time in the not too distant past, when the dreaded drive by shootings was standard occurrences in the inner cities of America. Black sociologists and criminologists described drives by and other violent crime involving blacks as: Black on Black crime. The graveyards of many inner cities are home to several victims.

In the Caribbean, we are witnessing the drive by and other forms of violent crimes occur with unusual frequency. Unfortunately, youths throughout the region, appear seriously determined to wipe out each other via the bullet. Gone are the days of “throwing big rocks’ or “giving a fellow a cuff” or trying to wrestle your adversary to the ground. Gone are the cuss outs at the standpipe and the often frivolous village rivalry of four or five decades ago. Today, all disagreements among the criminal element are settled with a burst of fire from a gun. Even stabbings are rather obsolete.

We at Mahogany Coconut have warned, from our inception, that the major threats to the real development of our region are our failure to properly manage our fragile environment and the rising levels and sophistication of crime. We can try to correct our environmental problems by: proper garbage disposal, protecting our scarce wildlife and ensuring that old buildings are given a new lease on life. However, when a young citizen’s life is cut short by acts of extreme violence, there is nothing we can do to “bring him or her back”.

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Otis Gibson Sacked by the WICB

Otis Gibson

Otis Gibson

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) sacked Coach Otis Gibson tonight, a decision known 48 hours before it was announced. Hurray for transparency. The news that he was terminated by a telephone call after just renewing a contract for 2 years makes the Gibson sacking another saga to observe for the comedic relief it offers. It is no secret West Indies has become the laughing stock of the cricket world. The inability of the WIBC to stop the slide of performance by the regional cricket team for nearly 2 decades confirms the leadership vacuum which continues to choke success in almost every facet of  enterprise in our region. The most recent ICC Rankings positions West Indies at #8 out of 10 teams with only the minnows Zimbabwe and Bangladesh  at #9 and #10 bottoming out the rankings.

The WICB and the UWI represent two regional entities which have served the English Caribbean people well. In recent years these two entities have struggled to stay relevant in a world advancing at pace. It seems moronic that the WICB on the eve of an international ODI series against Bangladesh would become trapped into making such a significant management change.  Based on the WIBC press release the team manager, Sir Richie Richardson, will perform a dual role in the current series. While the WICB saga continues to unfold Barbadians were informed of very low registration at UWI, Cave Hill. Connect the dots.

All taxpayers in the cricket English Caribbean have a vested interest in the efficient management of regional cricket. In the build up to the 2007 regional governments mobilized several projects, including the building of new stadia, to host CWC2007.  Continue reading

Time to Recruit the BEST People for Tourism

Adrian Loveridge - Hotelier

Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier

I have always tried to stay away from the various personalities that have been entrusted to guide our number one foreign currency generator, but it would have been almost impossible not to comment on the remarks accredited to the outgoing Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Industry recently. If accurately reported, there certainly was some very robust, and frankly, blunt language used to describe the agency as, ‘a slothful, wasteful and inefficient organization in an increasingly dynamic technologically-driven and commercial industry’.

Perhaps, in less colourful words, this has been stated by many in the sector repeatedly over several years, so why is it after more than three years at the helm, only being recognised now? And if you analyse the figures, why were corrective measures not put into place much earlier?

After assuming the position of Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority in May 2011 that year only recorded two months of long stay visitor decline. However, by April 2012 Barbados witnessed a reduction in arrivals for 21 consecutive months. Sadly the release of tourism numbers seem to get later and later each month, with the May 2014 figures taking a staggering 60 days to be posted on the Barbados Statistical Service website. But all the indications are that so far this year the best we can expect is a ‘flat’ performance. Equally important to highlight is that during the third year (2013) of the official’s tenure, Barbados registered the lowest stay-over arrivals for any one of the last 11 years.

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People Say

David:

Citizen advocate Afra Raymond has legitimate concerns about how large scale development is undertaken in our relatively small countries. He refers to a few large projects which have been implemented with little or no regard for citizens’ input or review. There is similar concern in Barbados and several of our little islands where Environment Impact Study documents are prepared to satisfy the law, hardly to reflect public concerns. If it is troubling for Afra in T&T, a 5,128 square kilometres, what can we say about tiny Barbados. The latest project in Barbados is the Cahill Waste to Energy that is the cause of concerns about its impact on our scarce land resources.

Originally posted on AfraRaymond.com:

The Port of Spain International Waterfront Centre

The Port of Spain International Waterfront Centre

I call this the Season of Reflection, being the two-month period starting with Emancipation Day on 1 August, centred by our nation’s Independence on 31 August and closing with Republic Day on 24 September.  To me that is a compelling sequence in which those days of national importance are celebrated.  It is a good time for reconsidering the role Conscious Citizens should play in the process of National Development.

Our country is relatively tiny, at 5,128 square kilometres, and its population density is relatively high, at an estimated 239 persons per square kilometre.  I say estimated, since those figures effectively yield a population of 1.225 million and it seems to me that our population is far higher, but that aspect is for another column.  What concerns me here are the implications of our high population density in terms of our physical…

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