Caribbean and Diaspora News Round-up
Snow drives Easter exodus
Bolt appeals to British Christians
The UN backs small arms treaty
More foreign support for Caribbean T20 cricket
The continued freeze across Britain, the US and Canada has apparently been good for tourism figures in the Caribbean.
The start of the Easter break, after a prolonged winter and a no-show of Spring in the UK, alone led to a 30% rise in the number of Britons flying out at the start of the Easter weekend.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) estimated that almost two million Britons took part in the so-called great British escape.
Airline specialists had predicted a record number of passengers leaving at London’s main airports, Heathrow and Gatwick.
Ahead of the Easter weekend, Oliver Broad, the chairman of the Independent Tour Operators Association, told the Evening Standard: “This could be the biggest Easter getaway we’ve ever experienced. Our 120 members have had a significant increase in last-minute bookings due to the cold.”
Spain, Egypt and Tunisia were the top destinations of choice for escaping Brits.
However, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) had predicted a 4-5 % increase in visitors for 2013.
CTO figures for the start of the year have already indicated an increase in American visitor figures to Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, the Cayman Islands and the Dominican Republic.
Canadian figures, according to Caribbean Intelligence© checks with the CTO, also indicate increased start-of-year visitors to Anguilla, Antigua, Belize and Cuba.
CTO figures indicate that Europe-wide January-to-February 2013 visitor figures increased slightly to Anguilla, Belize, Barbados, the Caymans Islands and St Lucia.
While Brits are getting away, analysts in the UK estimate that visitor figures from Britain to the Caribbean remained affected by the air passenger departure tax.
A survey by a Christian radio station in the UK has found that a large number of Christians surveyed saw clean-living people such as Usain Bolt as having the potential to improve the image of Christianity in Britain.
The survey for Premier Christian Radio, published on 3 April, found that just under half of those surveyed believed that advertising with a high-profile person would be the best approach to promoting Christianity in a positive way.
Usain Bolt came top of the favourites’ list for this, followed by British TV explorer Bear Grylls, American actor Denzel Washington and British actor David Suchet.
"Usain Bolt, however, has obviously attracted worldwide recognition and an international celebrity status following the 2012 Olympics, so that it is interesting to see his name at the top of our listener poll as the ideal Christian to help promote the Christian Church," Peter Kerridge, chief executive of Premier Christian Radio, told Christian Today newspaper.
According to Christian Today, two-thirds of those surveyed said that Christianity needed a new image and 85% believed that the British media portrayed Christianity negatively.
The UN against small arms
After their co-ordinated lobby, Caribbean countries voted with other United Nations countries to adopt an unprecedented international treaty against small arms.
In October, Caribbean representatives had made clear their position at the UN in support of the treaty.
In essence, the treaty will force those selling small weapons to establish the use to which their guns and ammunition will be put before sale.
The treaty to regulate small arms, light weapons and ammunition was agreed to at the UN on 2 April by 153 votes for and 4 against.
In all, 23 nations abstained, some stating that the treaty does not go far enough to curb the sale of guns and other small arms.
It will be open for signature in June of this year.
Third foreign star for CPL
New Zealand's Ross Taylor has become the third foreign cricket name to sign up for the Caribbean Premier League later this year.
He joins Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist among those taking part in the Caribbean's inaugural T20, which takes place across the region between 29 July and 26 August.
West Indies players already signed up for the event include Darren Sammy, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine, Marlon Samuels and Kieron Pollard.
"I am very excited about playing in the first ever edition of the CPL," Taylor said.
"As current world champions, West Indies have been a force in T20 cricket over the past couple of years, and CPL should help uncover new international superstars in the mould of Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine.
“The Caribbean is one of my favourite places to play cricket and with the passionate crowds, great atmosphere and the athletic style of play, I'm looking forward to being a part of this exciting competition."
The CPL will be played in six Caribbean venues.