Kingston, Jamaica: Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says his ministry will be moving swiftly to plug an imminent gap in Jamaica’s airlift capacity, which has arisen as more United States-based carriers shift focus to their domestic market for summer.
He said Jamaica stands to lose approximately 60,000 air seats, as more U.S.-based carriers seek to cut costs and capitalize on the growth in local travel spurred by signs of a revival in the U.S. economy.
“It now means that the competition for outbound traffic is now going to be more acute,” said Bartlett.
In other tourism news, Bartlett was pleased by the Jamaica Tourist Board’s announcement that there was a 7.6 per cent increase in stopover arrivals during the first month of the year. Cruise arrivals also rose 10.5 per cent during the same period.
Bartlett said the cruise performance was “very significant because what it means is that cruise has now turned the corner properly for growth and we are projecting solid growth for cruise and stopover for the rest of the year”.
CALL FOR OVERHAUL
Port-au-Prince, Haiti: UN special envoy for Haiti and former Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean has called for an overhaul of the earthquake-ravaged nation’s education system.
Jean, who was born in Port-au-Prince, is a board member of the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
She said it is necessary for Haiti to implement the National Pact for Education, which was developed and approved by Haitian authorities. The pact aims to provide free education for all children from 6 to 12 years of age by 2015.
It also calls for increasing the proportion of students pursuing secondary and university level studies, and providing literacy to 2.5 million Haitians.
Only one in five Haitian children had access to public school prior to the January 12, 2010 earthquake.
Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis: St. Kitts and Nevis Attorney General Patrice Nisbett says a new wiretap law which was passed in parliament last weekend will serve as a significant deterrent to crime.
The legislation, the Interception of Communications Bill, makes it legal for the police to intercept all forms of telecommunications whether via the internet or telephone.
The law also allows the authorities to search mail.
Nisbett says there are safeguards in place to prevent abuse of the law.
One such measure is that police officers would have to convince a high court judge to grant them permission to carry out wiretapping.
Nisbett said criminals, not law-abiding people, should be worried about the law.
Havana, Cuba: Cuban government and union officials are acknowledging that a drive to fire half a million unneeded state workers has gotten off to a slow start.
Cuban President Raul Castro announced the layoffs – which amount to one-tenth of Cuba’s work force – in September.
Trabajadores, the official newspaper of the Cuban Workers Confederation, claims that there have been several procedural errors and that the entire process must start again from the beginning.
It was due to be completed by March 31.
According to Trabajadores, most of the workers will be offered alternative jobs rather than fired outright, and that all will have the opportunity to appeal the decision.
The newspaper said some workers in the tourism, health and sugar industries have already been let go, but gave no numbers.