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Lifestyle diseases taking toll on business

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 23:52

Every year 36 million people die from non-communicable diseases. Gerard Scott, manager of Business Development Employee Benefits at Sagicor, who shared those statistics yesterday during a breakfast seminar hosted by the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said that is why making the right lifestyle choice is important.

Speaking on the theme of the seminar, Measuring the Impact of Diabetes on Business, Scott said: “Ailments like cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, chronic respiratory disorders and diabetes, account for 63 per cent of deaths worldwide and are largely the result of lifestyle choices.”

He said the World Health Organization attributes nearly all of these “premature deaths to smoking, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol.” 

Scott also gave a history of diabetes and highlighted how diabetes and other non-communicable diseases impact on businesses. 

He said the key elements to diabetes management are education, physical activity, nutrition, weight management, medication, lifestyle management, blood pressure and wearable technology. 

“Wearable devices are commonly used to measure fitness. In addition to movement tracking, these devices also monitor sleep or heart rate. Some even track body temperature, blood oxygen levels and respiration, while some monitor glucose in diabetic patients,” he said.

Scott said the wearable technology is becoming more popular and a recent survey showed that 60 per cent of wearable users bought their device within the last six months. 

“They’re generally younger and more affluent, between 18 and 34 years and making upwards of $100,000 a year. As functionality, battery life and style have improved, they are also sticking with the programme. Health is an investment,” Scott said.

“One survey found that for every $1 invested on wellness, $3 was saved in medical costs. While there are varying findings, it seems that cost savings do not materialize until a wellness programme has been in existence for at least five years.

“An effective wellness programme and wearable technologies that generate consistently accurate results are necessary to the success of wellness-related insurance offerings,” he said.

G20 urged to keep promises made to Caribbean

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 22:44

WASHINGTON DC—Jamaica’s Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips says the Caribbean continues to feel the impact of the global economic crisis that is impeding its capacity to grow.

Phillips said he welcomes the opportunity for the Caribbean to engage with the powerful G20 countries to highlight and address some of the peculiar challenges that are impeding their progress.

“This first contact, I think, is important and it will be the first of a number of contacts. We are grateful to the Turkish authorities, who are President of the G20 this year and the Chinese, who will preside next year. During these engagements, we’ll have to collaborate with the G20 to examine some practical solutions to the issues facing the Caribbean,” Phillips said as he addressed the first Caribbean Regional Dialogue with members of the G20 Development Working Group earlier this week.

“We should also be grateful to the Trinidadian authorities, who took an active part on behalf of the Caribbean in this regard. This dialogue will continue and there are specific areas in which practical solutions can be brought to the table to benefit the Caribbean,” he added.

The meeting on formed part of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings now underway here. The meeting will end on Sunday and while in Washington Phillips will meet with representatives of the IMF, World Bank, and the US Treasury.

Jamaica was asked to co-chair discussions on the challenges confronting Caribbean countries at the meeting with the G20 Development Working Group and Phillips, in his remarks, said the session would be of great value to the Caribbean, because it is the first time there has been engagement between the Caribbean and the G20 in an organised fashion.

He said dialogue of this nature allows for the opportunity to bring to the attention of the G20 countries and the Development Working Group, the specific condition of the Caribbean region, which he identified as low growth and high debt.

He noted that the Caribbean is still suffering the effects of the crisis of 2008-09, pointing out that the consequences of that crisis are impeding the region’s capacity to grow, particularly because of the high debt.

Last October, the Jamaica Finance Minister urged the G20 countries to make good on their promise to assist the Caribbean region to mitigate the effects of the financial recession of 2008.

Speaking during a Caribbean breakfast and caucus meeting here, Phillips expressed concern that the group of major economies has not kept its promise to provide financial support to assist the region.

“We continue to suffer because the expectations that were generated in 2008, coming out of the first meeting of the G20 nations, for resources to alleviate the plight of the region that was hardest hit by the crisis, have been unfulfilled,” he stated.

Phillips said there is urgent need for the G20 to fulfil its promise, citing the region’s high debt burden, climatic vulnerabilities, along with energy insecurities.

The G20 Development Working Group was established in 2010, and is responsible for implementing the G20 Development Agenda, which includes increasing financing for infrastructure investment in developing countries.

The G20 is a forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies. Its membership include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and the European Union. (CMC)

Unilever shares end higher at $66.07

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 22:41

Overall market activity resulted from trading in ten securities of which one advanced, three declined and six traded firm.

Trading activity on the first tier market registered a volume of 94,071 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $941,118.49. 

Sagicor Financial Corporation was the volume leader with 64,675 shares changing hands for a value of $388,806.78, followed by Guardian Holdings Ltd with a volume of 10,994 shares being traded for $156,114.80. 

Trinidad Cement Ltd contributed 9,593 shares with a value of $23,982.50, while First Citizens Bank Ltd added 4,644 shares valued at $165,150.91. 

Unilever Caribbean Ltd enjoyed the day’s sole price increase, climbing $0.04 to end the day at $66.07. Conversely, Sagicor Financial Corporation suffered the day’s greatest loss, falling $0.24 to close at $6.01. 

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the mutual fund market, posting a volume of 2,543 shares valued at $57,228.40. It declined by $0.01 to end at $22.50. 

Kuchela plan tops Ytepp competition

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 22:37

An agribusiness proposal has earned Maria Seecharan the $8,000 first prize in the Youth Training Employment and Partnership Programme (Ytepp) Best Business Plan Competition.

Placing second was Lu Anne Harper and third place went to Tricia Ruben, while a special award went to Colin Ottley of Mayaro.

The prize-giving ceremony was held on Wednesday at Ytepp’s Chaguanas headquarters at Mulchan Sieuchand Road.

Seecharan’s plan to create kuchela, a local condiment, from paw paw, was chosen from more than 250 plans submitted by trainees.

Christo Cave, Ytepp’s director of Entrepreneurship Development and Support Services, said the business plan competition received sponsorship of more than $60,000 from Repsol. 

He said the 20 finalists received $25,000 worth of sponsorship from Repsol to implement their business ideas. Cave said Ytepp’s goal is to create entrepreneurs who will be successful in the world of business.

Guyana gets first five-star hotel

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 03:17

The grand opening of the long awaited multi-million dollar Marriott Guyana Georgetown was yesterday overshadowed by protest action from opposition supporters registering their discontent over the controversial US$58 m project.

Security officers shut the main gates to the hotel shortly after 10 am after Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Greene and his supporters, armed with placards, attempted to storm into the hotel just as guests began arriving for the official opening ceremony. They clashed with police outside the Block Alpha, Kingston Georgetown hotel, breaking down a barrier as they attempted to invade the event.

However the protesters failed to dampen the festive atmosphere as Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar and Brenda Durham, Marriott International’s senior vice president and regional general counsel, cut the ribbon to officially open the country’s first five star international hotel.

Ramotar said it was a historic moment for Guyana and its thrust towards tourism.

 The modern hotel offers a panoramic view of the point where the Demerara River flows into the Atlantic Ocean

Guyana’s Tourism Minister Mohammed Irfan Ali said with the opening of the hotel Guyana is now in a competitive position.

“It gives us an opportunity to compete with T&T for some of the corporate business. Since the construction of the Hyatt in Trinidad, Trinidad has basically run a monopoly in attracting business and they have a good business model in bring conferences and so on to T&T. 

“One of our greatest hindrances to conference tourism has been (not having) a facility like this. It gives us that opportunity to enter that market,” he said

Ali said there had been strong opposition to the project because of government’s 100 per cent investment in construction of the hotel.  However, he said, Guyana will begin to see returns on its investment soon, especially as it moves to increase its tourism market.

He said the opening of the hotel, is well timed because Copa Airlines has expressed an interest in expanding its presence in Guyana and there was also the recent rebranding of Princess Hotel by Ramada.

“That tells you that tourism in Guyana is now kicking,” Ali said.

The hotel  will raise the current hotel room stock in Guyana from 1800 to 2000 rooms.

 

T&T moves up the ranks in global ICT

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 03:09

T&T ranks 70th in the latest World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Information Technology Report (GITR). The 14th edition of the report,  a comprehensive assessment of how prepared an economy is to apply the benefits of ICTs to promote economic growth and well-being, was released locally this week at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, Mount Hope.

Science and Technology Minister Dr Rupert Griffith hailed the country’s improved showing in the report as evidence of Government’s commitment to growth of the ICT sector. 

He said it followed closely on an independent survey conducted by the International Telecommunications Union, which showed that T&T had climbed three points and is now ranked at 67 on the ICT Development Index. 

The ITU estimates that for every ten per cent increase in penetration, a country’s GDP is positively impacted by between 0.8 per cent and one per cent.  

In the GITR rankings, T&T moved up 45 spots to 81st in the world for “Internet and telephony competition.”

“In T&T, mobile penetration in 2014 stood at 149 per cent up from 146 per cent the previous year. This is one of the highest in the world, and exceeds the developed world average of 128 per cent–and far exceeds that of the developing world, which averages 89 per cent,” Griffith said. 

“Domestic fixed broadband penetration rose from 54 per cent to 58 per cent in that same period and we expect coverage of fixed broadband to reach 98 per cent of T&T. 

Revenues for the telecommunications and broadcasting industry rose by 12.6 per cent over the period 2011 to 2012 and 4 per cent over the period 2012 to 2013. “This translated into $5.3 billion or equal to about 3.3 per cent of GDP for 2012 and $5.5 billion or 3.1 per cent of GDP for 2013.”

The minister pointed out that this country was not classified among nations caught in a growing digital divide where the full economic and social benefits of the Internet were only available to a minority of the population. 

He said the report found that many countries were failing to implement basic reforms to increase productivity, boost economic growth and raise living standards.

He said while the world’s developing and emerging economies were failing to exploit the potential of ICTs to drive social and economic transformation and catch up with more advanced nations, this country was not among them.

Protest looms at Lake Asphalt

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 03:05

There is a threat of protest action at Lake Asphalt of T&T (1978) Limited over stalled wage negotiations.

President General of the Contractors and General Workers Trade Union (CGWTU) Ainsley Matthews said workers were prepared to cripple bitumen and asphalt exports if the company did not put a wage offer on the bargaining table.

“This is totally unacceptable because it has been two years since we met for negotiations,” Matthews said, adding that the last collective agreement expired a year ago and the company had failed to put a counter proposal on the table in current negotiations.

“They are totally ignoring us and saying that they are awaiting the advice of the CPO (Chief Personnel Officer) but workers are getting restless because they are dissatisfied with the slow pace of negotiations. The negotiating period of June 1, 2011, to May 31, 2014, has passed and there is still no settlement,” he said.

Matthews said that 320 hourly and weekly paid as well as junior and senior staff are affected by the current stalled negotiations. “The company has made no wage offer. We had over six meetings since 2011 and the union is asking for 25 per cent across the board,” he said. Asked why only six meetings have been held in four years, Matthews said: “That is how they treat us. The company is just not meeting with us because they have nothing to tell us. This is why the workers are considering industrial action.”

CEO of Lake Asphalt Learie Hosein said a meeting would be held with the union next week. Hosein said he was surprised that they were planning protests as the company was in constant dialogue with the union.

He also denied that negotiations had not taken place since 2013. 

“Our last engagement with the union on negotiations was on April 14, 2014. We have however been involved in non-crisis meetings on a regular basis,” he said. Hosein said once a directive is given by the CPO, a counter proposal would be made.

Gain of $0.09 for TCL shares

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 00:53

Overall market activity resulted from trading in 12 securities of which two advanced, one declined and nine traded firm. Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 185,109 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $894,723.92. Trinidad Cement Limited was the volume leader with 92,027 shares changing hands for a value of $230,051.56, followed by National Flour Mills Limited with a volume of 45,533 shares being traded for $68,299.50. 

Scotia Investments Jamaica Limited contributed 24,788 shares with a value of $36,190.48, while Sagicor Financial Corporation added 12,565 shares valued at $78,504.10. Trinidad Cement Limited enjoyed the day's largest gain, increasing $0.09 to end the day at $2.50. Conversely, Republic Bank Limited suffered the day's sole decline, falling $0.01 to end the day at $115.99.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 1,330 shares valued at $29,925. It remained at $22.50.

Top Daimler ranking for Diamond Motors

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 00:48

Ansa Automotive subsidiary Diamond Motors has been ranked among the top 20 dealerships in the world by German global vehicle manufacturer Daimler.

Matthias Barth, president of Daimler Latina made the announcement at Tuesday’s unveiling of the brand at Ansa Automotive’s new FUSO showroom, corner Charles and Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain. The showroom is a first for the Caribbean because facilities of that kind are usually reserved for sedans and similar types of vehicles.

“Even though T&T is not the biggest market in the world, you Diamond Motors, with your excellent performance, make it to the top 20 in the FUSO worldwide sales network. We really appreciate the loyalty of Diamond Motors to our brand and after having made this investment, I am sure our partnership will last for a long, long time,” Barth said. 

“You all have seen the video about our new factory in Chennai, India, where we were able to bring together all the Daimler truck know-how in one single plant. The standards we set are exactly the same in our factories in Germany, Brazil, US or in Japan. We enlarged our product portfolio tremendously and with all these new trucks produced in India, but with FUSO and Mercedes technology, customers will find all the transportation solutions you may need in this showroom. The real showroom you will experience on the road, on the construction site or on the oil exploration fields.”

Barth said officials from several dealerships around the world, including T&T, visited the new plant in Asia and will be able to assure customers production quality with the merging of FUSO and Mercedes technology. He praised the company’s partnership with Diamond Motors as well as Ansa Automotive’s legacy in the business locally.

Rishi Basdeo, general manager at Diamond Motors, said several new models were added to the dealership portfolio and service excellence is a high priority aalong with after sales support.

TTMA cautiously optimistic after Customs move

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 00:45

The Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) says the recent relocation of the Customs and Excise Division to the new Government Campus is a “very noteworthy and remarkable development along with its attendant upgrades in working resources and other amenities.” In a statement yesterday, the TTMA said with the move another important step towards a changed paradigm has been accomplished. 

The association said it was confident the enhanced working environment will be a catalyst that ensures Customs and Excise delivers service to its customers “second to none and in alignment with international best practice, especially in the areas that impact most on cost and prices—document processing, inspections, examinations, and payment systems for duties, taxes and other related fees, which would facilitate the timely release and clearance of cargo.”

The statement continued: “TTMA recognises the very important role that Customs and Excise plays in national trade facilitation for this country, and is therefore now cautiously optimistic that a new era has commenced which will contribute greatly to the ease, as well as cost, of doing business with and in Trinidad and Tobago.

Cops, customs get more teeth

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 22:40

Proposed trademarks legislation will enable better enforcement of trademark and intellectual property laws by T&T Police Service and Customs and Excise officers, including granting them the ability to arrest without warrants those selling goods under false trademarks.

Legal Affairs Minister Praksah Ramadhar confirmed this in the Senate, yesterday, while piloting the proposed new trademarks legislation to replace the current outdated law. The new legislation proposes increased fines and penalties for offences under the act.

Ramadhar said the bill did not give the police and customs more power, but enhanced their ability to enforce the law on the issues for which they had oversight. It also introduces the issue of trademarks on the Internet.

The bill, Ramadhar said, would target vendors of products carrying false trademarks, as well as those who counterfeited trademarks and those who operated the tools to counterfeit such trademarks 

He said the bill required a special majority for passage, since the authorities could affect people’s enjoyment of property when enforcing the law and seizing items. 

Ramadhar also urged local manufacturers to try and develop scents made from local flowers or produce, since, he noted, some scents are flavoured with the aroma of T&T’s tonka bean.

People’s National Movement (PNM) Senator Faris Al-Rawi called for the bill to be examined by a special select or Joint Select Committee of Parliament rather than be passed in one day, since, he said, the bill raised a number of new areas, although it was an excellent one and well drafted. 

One of the new areas, he said, was that under the law, producers of a product would be able to name competing brands in advertising, a new situation for T&T. He cited other business issues which he claimed might arise and cause a “floodgate of litigation.”

Al-Rawi, at the start of his presentation, said he had to disclose that he was involved in trademark issues in court on certain specific matters which the bill might affect. He said other senators, including Independent senators, might also have to disclose an interest in the matter. He said he might have to make further disclosure of interest in two other matters later in the session and a vote on the bill might affect the matters in court.

$1.6m in Clico Fund shares traded

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 22:36

Overall market activity resulted from trading in 17 securities of which two advanced, six declined and nine traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 1,051,679 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $2,379,919.77. National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited was the volume leader with 750,063 shares changing hands for a value of $1,125,094.50, followed by National Flour Mills Limited with a volume of 120,703 shares being traded for $181,054.50. Trinidad Cement Limited contributed 113,491 shares with a value of $273,929.55, while Scotia Investments Jamaica Limited added 23,262 shares valued at $33,967.52.

Sagicor Financial Corporation enjoyed the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.23 to end the day at $6.25. Conversely, Guardian Holdings Limited suffered the day’s greatest loss, falling $0.27 to close at $14.20.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 73,790 shares valued at $1,660,278.43. It declined by $0.01 to end at $22.50.

Mergers good for T&T economy

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 01:37

Finance Minister Larry Howai says international mergers will insulate the T&T economy from the backlash of falling energy prices.

He said it can no longer be business as usual for Government because of the decline in foreign revenue, so it is important to form sustainable mergers.

“Preliminary indications indicate that the first half of this year we shall run a deficit but it will be lower than originally forecasted and considerably better than our revised forecast, based on reduction of revenues consequent with the fall in energy prices,” he said.

The minister said with the expected lifting of sanctions against Iran and the continued build up of oil inventories in the United States, revenue and expenditure initiatives have to be fast tracked in the coming months to insulate the T&T economy against the effects of those changes. He said the chemical complex to be built at La Brea will make a positive contribution to that effort, providing a boost to the economy. 

“Foreign direct investigation from this project alone is US$850 million or TT$5.4 billion,” he said

During construction phase of the project, Howai said, 3,000 people will be employed and when the plant is fully operational, 184 people will get permanent well paying jobs.

“T&T is no stranger to large petrochemical concerns. Our petroleum industry and downstream activities are highly developed and recognised the world over. This DME plant will be the first of its kind here,” he said. 

“Its high oxygen content, lack of sulphur or other noxious compounds and ultra clean combustion make DME a versatile and promising solution in the mixture of clean renewable and low carbon fuel,” Howai added.

His Cabinet colleague, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine, commenting on the US$70 million acquisition of BG Group’s assets by Royal Dutch Shell, said that merger will offer opportunities for upstream industries.

“Shell has been looking for an upstream position in the exploration and production business. I think Shell brings advantages to T&T and one of these advantages is access to capital,” he said.

Ramnarine said he and a ministerial team will meet with Shell officials this week to discuss the company’s plans for T&T.

“Shell now has a dominant position in the LNG business in T&T,” he said.

Ramnarine said it might take about nine months for the deal to be finalized as regulatory issues have to be addressed.

Royal Dutch Shell and BG Group have key stakes in T&T's energy sector, with both companies holding significant shares in LNG export/producing company Atlantic in Point Fortin.

JMMB Group publicly listed on TTSE

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 01:34

The delisting of Jamaica Money Market Brokers Limited (JMMB) and simultaneous listing of JMMB Group took place at yesterday morning at the same time on the T&T, Barbados and Jamaica Stock Exchanges. 

The change over comes approximately three years after JMMB acquired Capital & Credit Financial Group Limited (CCFG) creating a new structure within the combined group of companies which required reorganisation. That acquisition gave JMMB strategic capabilities, including Capital & Credit Merchant Bank Limited, now JMMB Merchant Limited, an entity licensed under the Financial Institutions Act of Jamaica (FIA) and subject to the supervision of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ).

Speaking at the delisting and relisting ceremony at the T&T Stock Exchange (TTSE) in Port-of-Spain yesterday, Ronald Carter, chief executive, JMMB Investments T&T, said the group had to be restructured “in a way that permits the BOJ to effectively carry out its supervisory mandate under the FIA.” 

“On May 16, 2012, JMMB Group Limited was therefore formed as a new financial holding company and will be at the pinnacle of the group structure. JMMB Group Limited will now be the publicly listed and ultimate holding company of the combined group.” 

Carter assured the company’s shareholders that they will be able to retain their shares.

He explained: “Ordinary shares will be transferred, one for one, to JMMB Group Limited—ordinary shares, allowing shareholders to retain the same volume and value of their shares. 

The shares will also carry the same rights, benefits and obligations of the previous JMMB Limited ordinary shares. JMMB Group Limited ordinary shares will list at the same price that the JMMB Limited ordinary shares last traded.”

The JMMB Group offers a wide range of investment solutions, banking and insurance services in Jamaica, T&T and the Dominican Republic and has an base of more than 200,000 individual, corporate and institutional clients. 

It began its expansion to other Caribbean markets in 1999 through a successful joint venture establishing Caribbean Money Market Brokers (CMMB) in T&T and Barbados.

In 2005, as a means of deliberate business line diversification in the region, JMMB acquired 50 per cent shareholding in Intercommercial Bank Ltd (IBL), as at 2013 JMMB owns 100 per cemtof the IBL Group in T&T. In late 2012, the company opened JMMB Investments T&T.

JMMB Dominican Republic opened its doors in 2006 and in October 2007 our newly-formed company was officially called JMMB Puesto de Bolsa with a mandate to actively develop the Money Market in one of the largest Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands. 

There are currently two locations in the Dominican Republic.

Economic slowdown in region affecting employment

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 22:20

PANAMA—Latin American and Caribbean countries are facing challenging times because of an economic slowdown in the region which is having an impact on employment. This could, in turn, lead to a rise in unemployment and informality rates, warned ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

“After a decade of significant improvements, in which regional unemployment dropped to historic levels, we must brace ourselves for a rise in unemployment rates,” said Ryder, who was in Panama to attend the 7th Summit of the Americas last Friday and Saturday.

The average urban unemployment rate in Latin America and the Caribbean stood at 11 per cent a decade ago. It dropped to 6.1 per cent last year, but according to the latest ILO figures, it is expected to rise to at least 6.3 per cent in 2015.

Ryder took part in the Civil Society Forum last Wednesday, where he stressed the need to implement policies that would prevent a rise in unemployment and lead to what he called a “productive transformation.”

“We need to look for an economic growth model that generates more and better jobs for all,” he said.

Ryder also participated in the Foro Sindical de las Américas, which brought together unions from the region. He said that Latin America and the Caribbean will need to create 50 million jobs over the next decade to absorb young workers entering the labour market.

“When the economy is not working properly, this becomes very hard,” he said, adding that some may be forced to look for jobs in the informal economy, which already covers almost half of all workers in the region.

The ILO Director-General also took part in the Second CEO Summit of the Americas from across the Americas, where he said that transforming the growth model poses an important challenge for the private sector.

“Of course, saying it is very easy, but transforming the economic growth model of the region is a very difficult task. That’s why we need to start now,” he said.

In his meetings with employers and workers, Ryder referred to social dialogue as an important tool to achieve equality in a region that is often characterised as the most unequal in the world.

Ryder met with several high-ranking authorities while in Panama, including President Juan Carlos Varela and Labour Minister, Luis Ernesto Carles.

CHTA president meets tourism stakeholders

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 00:02

NASSAU— “Commitment and collaboration between the public and private sectors at an unprecedented level is essential if the Caribbean is to realise the potential which tourism presents in elevating and transforming the economies of the region and generating employment at all levels,” said Emil Lee, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).

These observations were reaffirmed during Lee’s recent visit to The Bahamas where he addressed members of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) and met with leaders from the public and private sectors.

Commenting on his visit, Lee said: “CHTA believes in the value which National Hotel Associations can bring to the table in helping to drive economies through tourism. Our visit to The Bahamas is part of a deliberate effort to learn from the successes and the challenges at the local level as we seek to broaden public-private sector collaboration locally and regionally and identify issues and best and worst practices which can assist public and private stakeholders in our improvement efforts.”

Lee told BHTA members, the foundation for a viable and sustainable public-private sector effort must be grounded in transparency, trust, dialogue, common measurable goals, and a recognition that the currencies which motivate the public and private sectors differ. He emphasised that through collaboration the end common goals of building strong and competitive tourism driven economies, creating employment, and increasing tax revenue can be realised.

“The Bahamas has distinguished itself in the region as a model for points of public-private sector collaboration,” he said. “CHTA and all of the region’s stakeholders need to learn from one another and our successes and challenges, with CHTA serving as an information and change broker”
During the membership meeting BHTA president Stuart Bowe and others led discussions on key areas of the association’s work including taxation, airlift, energy efficiency, education and training, and culinary development, all points where some level of public-private sector collaboration underpins the success of the organisation’s initiatives and the destination’s value.

“We were pleased to share our work with CHTA. The Bahamas welcomes the opportunity to learn from our regional counterparts, best practices and challenges. In that regard, CHTA is a key channel for connecting us to information and resources,” Bowe said. Lee also met with Bahamas Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe. A second meeting was scheduled during his visit at the minister’s invitation to discuss in detail and expand upon areas of mutual interest from their first visit. 

Lee said: “Our discussions were very fruitful. The minister’s enthusiasm and commitment to regional collaboration is encouraging. CHTA looks forward to continuing to draw upon his ideas and leadership.”

Guesthouses get STAR certification

Sun, 04/12/2015 - 23:57

T&T is pulling out all the stops to ensure its developing tourism product remains competitive and attractive at a time when potential visitors are becoming more discerning in their travels, Umesh Rampersad, chairman of the Tourism Development Company (TDC) has said. Speaking at a STAR Hospitality Assured Ceremony at the TDC’s Maritime office in Barataria, Rampersad said T&T’s relevance in the tourism market was bolstered by a clear commitment to education and training of practitioners to ensure greater satisfaction for visitors.

Under the Hospitality Assured Certification Programme—a nine step framework created by the Institute of Hospitality (UK) specifically for the tourism and hospitality sector to improve service quality—operators of three local guest houses were certified. Villa De Rose, Bay Villa Apartments and Inna Citi Place, properties operating under the Small Tourism Accommodation Owners of T&T, earned the distinction of being the first in Trinidad to obtain certification. 

The TDC’s STAR Unit (Service, Attitude, Training, Respect) executed the programme, which was licensed for use in the Caribbean by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO). “Tourism is one of the top and fastest growing sectors in the world and continues to outperform other significant industries such as financial and business services, retail and distribution, public services and transport and manufacturing. 

“Tourists are continuously looking for new and exotic destinations to experience and the service quality delivered is a key factor in influencing tourist satisfaction as it relates to service courtesy, friendliness and the efficiency and responsiveness of service personnel to tourist requests and complaints,” Rampersad said. “As a destination marketing organisation (DMO), we have a responsibility to ensure that quality improvement is a vital ingredient in the strategy for making T&T, more competitive in a highly-competitive global marketplace. 

“This has become increasingly important as there has been intensifying competition through a growing number of holiday destinations, offering similar products and services causing an increase in consumer quality awareness.” Rampersad said as a survival mechanism more destinations strive to differentiate themselves from the competition by delivering a superior tourist experience and quality service, increasing the level of customer satisfaction. 

“Programmes such as Hospitality Assured and STAR ensure that we keep abreast of the competition by clearly defining and establishing our service performance measures and standards as a destination,” he said. “As an organisation, we look forward to building on the accomplishments of this first group of Hospitality Assured properties and look forward to other stakeholders and tourism service providers becoming Hospitality assured serving as a proud  mark of service and business excellence.”

Netflix CEO’s pay up 43 per cent to US$11.1m

Sun, 04/12/2015 - 23:54

SAN FRANCISCO—Netflix boosted CEO Reed Hastings’ pay by 43 per cent to US$11.1 million last year as the Internet video service raised its prices and still added the most subscribers in its history. The compensation package disclosed in a Friday regulatory filing included stock options valued at US$8.1 million. Those options could end up being worth more or less depending on how Netflix Inc’s stock fares during the next few years.

Hastings also received a US$3 million salary. Netflix raised its monthly rates by US$1 for new US subscribers in May while keeping them at $8 per month for existing customers.The Los Gatos, California, company still ended last year with 57.4 million worldwide subscribers, a gain of 13 million from 2013. Netflix’s stock, though, fell by 7 per cent last year.

AP

Scotia T&T shares up by $0.09

Sat, 04/11/2015 - 00:41

Overall market activity resulted from trading in eight securities of which four advanced, two declined and two traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 91,572 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $5,013,972.02. Massy Holdings Ltd was the volume leader with 75,040 shares changing hands for a value of $4,732,022.40, followed by National Commercial Bank Jamaica Ltd with a volume of 6,000 shares being traded for $9,015. Point Lisas Industrial Port Development Corporation Ltd contributed 4,600 shares with a value of $16,560, while First Citizens Bank Ltd added 4,550 shares valued at $161,525.

Scotiabank T&T Ltd enjoyed the day's largest gain, increasing $0.09 to end the day at $62.11. Conversely, Clico Investment Fund suffered the day's greatest loss, falling $0.04 to close at $22.51.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 144,695 shares valued at $3,256,575.94. 

TDC: Crime hurting cruise ship sector

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 23:28

T&T is behind the Caribbean in cruise sector marketing and there has been a decline in cruise ship passengers primarily due to travel advisories.

This was one of the key issues brought to the fore when officials of the Tourism Development Company (TDC) appeared before a Joint Select Committee (JSC) of Parliament yesterday.

The committee, which was chaired by Independent Senator Dr Victor Wheeler, also heard about impact of the TDC’s operations on the tourism sector over the last five years; the adequacy of the agency’s organisational structure and human resources to support implementations of its strategic objectives; the effectiveness of its management arrangements; TDC’s strategic direction; and the major challenges confronting the agency. 

TDC cruise ship market specialist Greer Assam told the JSC T&T faced several constraints in the cruise ship sector. She said there are currently 11 cruise lines servicing T&T, some which come on a specific itinerary.

Assam said in 2013, there were approximately 45,000 cruise passenger arrivals during the peak April to November season. This compared with 800,000 for St Martin, 900,000 for Aruba, 1 million for the Bahamas and approximately 160,000 for Grenada.

She said travel advisories warning foreigners about T&T played a significant role in the decline in cruise arrivals.

“The port of Port-of-Spain is a very old port. It is one of the oldest in the region. It can only facilitate one cruise ship at a time and even when that happens the cargo vessels have to be taken off the port,” Assam said.

She said a major concern was that the Grier Channel leading to the deep water wharves at Port-of-Spain has not been dredged for about four years and the harbour has not been upgraded.

“The TDC has made recommendations to the minister of transportation,” she said.

The JSC was told some ground work had been done on the TDC’s policies to expand the cruise line sector.

TDC chairman Umesh Rampersad said the agency and its policies were under constant review.

“We need to review the current status on the cruise industry and to make more informed decisions in the future,” he said.

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