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Air travel within the Caribbean – Caribbean News Now

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Adrian Loveridge has spent 52 years in the tourism industry across 67 countries, as a travel agent, tour director, tour operator and for the last 24 years as a small hotel owner on Barbados. He served as a director of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, and as chairman of the Marketing Committee. He also served as a director of the Barbados Tourism Authority and is a frequent writer on tourism

By Adrian Loveridge

Our tourism planners have a major task ahead of them unless significant changes in terms of availability, connectivity and reduced cost for air travel within the Caribbean takes place.

On a recent return flight from Barbados to St Maarten the price of my return ticket was US$740 to attend the just concluded Caribavia conference.

Making up this astronomical fare were the following non-directly related airline costs:
Barbados Airport Service charge (BGI-ANU) – US$70; (second departure tax introduced October 2018); FIS – US$8.75; Security Service charge (BGI-ANU) – US$8.75; Barbados Passenger Service charge (first departure tax) – US27.50; Barbados Security Fee – US$3.20; Barbados Ticket Tax (Value Added Tax) – BGI-ANU – US$44.45;
Barbados PFC (Passenger Facility Charge) – US$1.50 plus another Barbados Ticket Tax – (BGI-ANU) – US$33.60, totaling an amount of US$209 in Barbados Government charges.

To reach St Maarten necessitated a change of aircraft in both directions in Antigua and Barbuda, and a prolonged stop in Guadeloupe on the return, making the journey nearly four hours in each direction before adding check-in and delay times.

What immediately stands out is when the second departure tax (Airline Travel and Development Fee) was announced last year, it was clearly stated that travel within the region would be at the lower rate of US$35 and not the US$70 added to flights outside of the Caribbean; yet US$70 has been charged, at least on my ticket (record locator ACR73R).

Also, we are currently one of the only countries within the region to pay VAT (Value Added Tax) for flights emanating from Barbados; so both the outward and return carry the 17.5 percent levy on the base return fare total of US$466 which amounts to US$78.

While the future, (if there is one) of LIAT (1974) Ltd lies in the balance, any new majority owner and operator has to take a long and careful look at every single route and its average loadings.

On my flight, we had a stop in Guadeloupe which was delayed, supposedly by an additional security check. This is difficult to understand as apart from the lengthy conversation the private security personnel had with the flight attendants, only around five minutes were spent on inspecting the interior of the aircraft.

The delay though, of 35 minutes plus, was long enough to disgorge just seven passengers and take on another five, plus one infant. Sufficient time however, to ensure all the vast majority of people left onboard were made hot and sweaty on the plane for their onward journey, due to the lack of provision of any auxiliary ventilation.

Just how cost effective delivering and collecting such a tiny number of passengers, when taking landing fees and other costs levied into consideration certainly needs to be investigated, especially when other carriers operate on the same route with either one or no stops.

Of course, these are all questions that any serious management should have been asking for decades, prior to pumping millions of taxpayer’s dollars into the airline.



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Grenadian mas’ band hosts carnival design workshop for secondary school students

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One of the newest entrants on the carnival mas band scene, ORO Luxury Carnival, continues to raise the bar as it relates to its program of activities for Spicemas 2020. ORO hosted a Carnival Design Workshop at the Grenada National Stadium on Wednesday, 12 February 2020, at which 3 students from 7 government secondary schools attended a full-day workshop that focused on aspects of Grenada’s traditional mas’ and offered the students, who were also accompanied by a teacher from each school, an opportunity to learn first-hand some of the basic concepts of carnival costume design.

The event was endorsed by the Spicemas Corporation, and included a presentation by Spicemas CEO, Kelvin Jacob, who spoke at the opening ceremony and facilitated a presentation on Grenada’s traditional mas’ for the students. Also attending and speaking at the opening ceremony, was Shirma Wells, CEO, Grenada Cultural Foundation; and Dr Cheryl Bernabe-Bishop, Head of Curriculum in the Ministry of Education.

Head of Marketing for ORO Luxury Carnival, Sheldon Keens-Douglas, addressed the group of excited students and challenged them to think of carnival as a business enterprise that could sustain many entrepreneurial careers. He said, “When we started ORO Luxury Carnival, we wanted to look at carnival from the perspective of the masquerader, the sponsor and the entrepreneur. ORO, which is the Spanish word for ‘Gold’ was chosen to represent the band, as the group of local professionals behind the band set out to create a ‘gold standard’ in the local Carnival industry.

At our first event held in December 2019, where we introduced the concept of ORO to sponsors, media, and influencers, we also introduced the idea of looking at ways to build a sustainable resource base of young Carnival entrepreneurs. This workshop that is being held today is the realization of that early vision. We also want to thank Geo. F Huggins Grenada Ltd, Sandals Grenada, VINSHE Inc., and DutyFree Caribbean for recognizing the value of what we were doing and instantly lending their support as sponsors.” Students at the workshop were presented with a Certificate of Participation.

Students pay close attention to ORO Chief Designer, Sandra Hordatt

The design aspect of the workshop was facilitated by ORO’s Chief Designer, Sandra Hordatt, who is based in Trinidad and has over 20 years of experience in some of the twin-island republic’s best-known carnival mas’ bands. Sandra expressed her delight at the enthusiasm of the students and the way in which they applied their newly gained knowledge in the group exercise to design and create a carnival costume which formed part of the day’s activities.  Also assisting with the practical design element was well-known local designer, Damani Brizan, who is half of the family design duo, Shireen & Damani Brizan.

ORO

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Independence an inevitable result of colonialism

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 by Norris Mitchell

When we consider our roots from whence we came, it should not be too difficult to follow the sequence of events which have led to the present stage of our Caribbean civilisation.

Having just celebrated our 46th year of “political” independence, it should serve us well to retrace our steps historically, and to examine, analyse and (to) consider how we have evolved from the tyranny of the middle passage in the 15th and 16th centuries to what we have become today.

This discourse, however, would not dwell too much on the atrocities of slavery and the pain and suffering of our forefathers by the European slave masters but would move fast-forward into the period of colonisation after slavery was abolished in 1834, when a new global political, economic and social order had been established, at about the same time when beet sugar in Europe was cheaper to produce than cane sugar from paid black labour in the Caribbean (Eric Williams – Capitalism and Slavery).

In 1950 a Caribbean intellectual from Martinique, Aimé Césaire (pronounced A-mere C-zaire) in his polemic entitled “Discourse on Colonialism” had this to say:

“We are facing an era where fools are calling for the renewal of colonialism… the fact is while colonialism in its formal sense might have been dismantled, the colonial state has not. Many of the problems of democracy are products of the old colonial state whose primary difference is the presence of black faces.”

“It has to do with the rise of a new ruling class – the class which Fanon warned us about – who are content with mimicking the colonial masters, whether they are the old-school British or French officers, or the new US corporate rulers… As the true radicals of postcolonial theory will tell you, we are hardly in a “postcolonial” moment. The official apparatus might have been removed, but the political, economic and cultural links established by colonial domination still remain with some alterations.”

“What we have however, hardly reflects our imagination and vision: The same old political parties, the same armies, the same method of labour exploitation, the same education, the same tactics of incarceration, exiling, snuffing out artists and intellectuals who dare to imagine a radically different way of living, who dare to invent the marvellous before our very eyes.”

And, to complement Césaire’s postcolonial list, I would like to add, a national anthem, a coat of arms, a flag and a “prime minister”.

Seven decades on Césaire’s polemics are as relevant today (2020) as it was then; it was he who invented the term Negritude (Black consciousness) which has influenced the thinking of some African leaders and the Black Power movement of recent Caribbean history.

If we are to extricate ourselves from the current obsolete method of governance, it is incumbent on those of us, and the converted – who contemplate “Independence as an inevitable offspring of Colonialism” in our Grenada of 2020 and beyond, to embrace and educate the youth – beginning immediately from the primary school level, into a new way of perceiving and developing their country/our country, to a higher level of consciousness for the benefit of all Grenadians, where the resources of the country are developed and equitably and prudently distributed, and justice for all will become an expected reality. (Paradise regained).

There is too much at stake to allow the current trend of corrupt anglophone political leadership, Grenada included (one-manism), to remain unchallenged. Our Caribbean civilisation in my view has already taken a backward movement in the last two or three decades on account of the current calibre of our political leadership.

To support this conclusion, the following (Grenadian) examples would suffice: The continuing collapse of the infrastructure of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique – the Moliniere main road national disaster comes to mind on account of arrogance and gross incompetence resulting in the slippage of the hillside and the road into the sea, for which the Grenada taxpayer will pay dearly, willing or not.

The continued deterioration and neglect of our Capital City. The recent fires bear testimony and bring to the fore the government’s lack of appreciation for the value of Grenada’s patrimony especially our built and cultural heritage, as year after year for the past 20 years no funds are budgeted for repairs to our civic buildings and sites. Fort George, York House, the Market Square, the Public Library, the 3-storey police barracks on Melville Street and Government House come to mind, not forgetting the parking and traffic nightmare in the town and the unaccounted funds from the sale of our passports, with the “giveaway” of our best lands to foreigners in questionable secret deals, not beneficial to Grenada.

In this regard, where does the plan regarding the proposed first “Caribbean Climate-Smart and Resilient City of St George’s” fit in? A new ministry was created in 2018 to conceive, design and execute this ambitious project which, if implemented and properly managed could redefine our Grenadian image and identity. Apart from an occasional statement from the minister on television regarding funding, the public is unaware of any ACTUAL (concrete) groundwork that has been done so far. Let’s hope that this is not another pie in the sky proposal/project to which we have become accustomed.

Additionally, the hijacking of all our democratic institutions, notably of which is the ELECTORAL PROCESS. Is the Supervisor of Election and his staff, who should take instructions from no one including the prime minister, an independent agency as required by our constitution, in order to ensure a free and fair election, which would reflect/represent the will of the people? The emasculation of the Public Service Commission, now reduced to an instrument of victimisation for those in the public service who are perceived to be disloyal to, or untrustworthy by the prime minister. (Read Richard Duncan’s “Walking the straight and narrow – perspective in Grenada’s public administration”). Echoes of the ordeal of Gemma Bain-Horsford, ousted Cabinet Secretary; the concocted Fiscal Protection Act, in order to deprive teachers and public servants of their hard-earned 25% gratuity and pension after almost 30 years of service, as guaranteed in our constitution, and the collapse of our health services.

This latter was highlighted by the unscheduled arrival of a chartered private flight from China, under the cloak of darkness at 2 am on 28 January 2020 at the height of an international coronavirus alert, originating in China. A “caring” government which puts a few investment dollars, the benefits of which are never seen by Grenadians, over the health and wellness of its people, accompanied by rising crime and poverty. (“Not a day without the struggle” – Maurice Bishop).

If the slide is not halted, and the gains and accomplishments made/achieved over the years, are not protected, these could be irrevocably lost, which could perhaps take another century of this backward neo-colonial governance, before it could be regained. The crisis bells are ringing for the urgent reconstruction and remedial action for a political change for the better, in the unacceptable state of Grenadian “democratic” affairs.

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Prime Minister speaks out against child abuse

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Prime Minister, Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, has called for a unified approach to fighting child abuse.

Dr Mitchell urged persons to speak out against abuse, which according to him, has no place in our society. He said opting to remain silent on such an important issue is equivalent to being complicit.

Delivering his 2020 Independence Day Address, the Prime Minister said, “Let me state categorically that child abuse in any form, has no place in our society, or any society for that matter. As a government, we are unable to fight this scourge alone and so we call on the churches, family members, mothers, fathers, societal leaders, members of the community, let us all continuously speak up and speak out against this serious issue. When we stand in silence and allow it to occur, we become equally complicit in this travesty.”

The Prime Minister gave assurances that government will do all within its power to tackle child abuse. He said, “The government would make every effort to strengthen the law and other infrastructure to deal with the perpetrators and seek recourse and assistance for the victims; however, our preference is to not have any victims at all.”

According to statistics from the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), there were 179 victims of child abuse in 2019, down from 294 in 2018, which reflects a 39% reduction. Statistical data also reveals that children between the ages of 13 and 16 are most affected.

Inspector Andrea Noel-Victor of the Special Victims Unit (SVU) said the RGPF has a zero-tolerance approach to child abuse and they are hoping to see a further reduction in the number of victims as they move aggressively to deal with perpetrators. She said, “We have been focusing more on public awareness and sensitisation of children and others in the community, through lectures in schools, meetings with Parent Teacher Associations and other community-level engagements. We are seeing a growing level of confidence in the unit and more and more victims are coming forward to report these crimes. In fact, we just had a victim come forward after 20 years and charges have been laid against the perpetrator.”

The RGPF is also placing emphasis on training to enhance the ability of police officers to deal with these sensitive cases.

Inspector Noel-Victor confirmed that the RGPF has developed a holistic response, working in tandem with the Ministry of Social Development, the Child Protection Authority and other entities involved in the fight against child abuse. She noted too that the courts are very responsive in dealing with such cases and they are usually successful in getting matters expedited, particularly as they relate to protection orders stemming from incestuous cases.

Office of the Prime Minister

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