(Barbados Today) Hotel hoteliers anticipate a lucrative payday thanks to the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) which opens here on Friday.

The August 17 to 27 event is expected to attract an estimated 2,000 artistes, in addition to other visitors to Barbados.

Tourism officials believe it will provide a boost to the island’s tourism product, with a number of properties reporting increased bookings, including those under the Intimate Hotels of Barbados grouping.

“We don’t usually get a lot of group bookings at this time of the year, [but yes] a few hotels do have bookings from persons throughout the region that are coming in for CARIFESTA. I can’t say if they are the official contingents or if they are just performers or if they are just people who are coming to participate or spectate but we definitely have booking across the grouping.

“We haven’t compiled all of our Crop Over numbers as yet, since the season just ended, but for sure this is obviously a spike for occupancy for the month of August,” Chief Executive Officer Gayle Headley-Lowe told Barbados TODAY.

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(V.I. Consortium) When Fitch, one of three respected ratings agencies in the U.S., announced in July that it was maintaining its negative watch guidance on the territory’s bonds, Governor Kenneth Mapp deemed the guidance as a good sign, noting that Fitch did not downgrade the bonds, and that the firm noted actions the government had taken to address the territory’s financial crisis.

But on Tuesday Fitch replaced its recent negative watch with a negative outlook, and downgraded the territory’s bonds further into junk status, dealing another crushing blow to a government already under immense financial pressure. According to Fitch, the negative outlook reflects its assessment that the USVI will remain challenged in stabilizing its financial operations and its debt and pension positions.

The government’s “USVI” and “Public Finance Authority” bonds were downgraded to the following:

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SINGAPORE/HOUSTON (Reuters) - Asia would be the biggest beneficiary of any potential sanctions by the United States on Venezuela's oil sector, said traders and analysts, as exports from the South American OPEC member could be redirected to the region, filling a vacuum left by producer supply cuts.

Washington is considering sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry in response to the ruling Socialist Party's crackdown on officials and parties opposed to the government. An embargo against Venezuelan crude could block imports of about 740,000 barrels per day to the U.S.

Asian refiners would welcome the so-called heavy, or higher density, crude since production cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have mainly curtailed this type of oil. At the same time, the start-up of new refining capacity is boosting demand.

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(CNN): Britain wants to keep existing customs rules with Europe for about two years after Brexit as it tries to protect manufacturing exports and jobs.
With a third round of Brexit negotiations due later this month, the U.K. is under growing pressure to clarify its plans for trade and immigration once it leaves the European Union in March 2019.
The U.K. government said Tuesday in a position paper that it wanted to negotiate customs arrangements that "facilitate the freest and most frictionless possible trade in goods between the U.K. and the EU."

During a limited transitional period after Brexit, the U.K. would seek to retain as many of the existing arrangements as possible to avoid the chaos of an abrupt break with its biggest export market, and to allow time for a new trade deal to be negotiated.
"One possible approach would be a temporary customs union between the U.K. and the EU," the government said.

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(Barbados Today) The Barbados economy, which grew by an estimated 2.2 per cent during the first half of this year, is expected to slow by the end of 2017.

Acting Central Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes gave the revised projection today as he addressed a meeting of the Social Partnership at the Barbados Hilton Resort.

While suggesting that growth would be “in the region of 1.3 per cent to 1.8 per cent, compared to earlier estimates of 1.5 to 2 per cent”, Haynes explained that the economy remained very challenged with the international reserves plummeting to $635.5 million or just 9.7 weeks of import at the end of June.

This is even further below the 12-weeks benchmark, from the $705.4 million or about 10.7 weeks of import as at the end of March.

Making a presentation to Government, private sector and trade union leaders that was also nationally televised, Haynes said the drop in reserves was due mainly to Government’s expected external debt service obligations and the ongoing delays in securing planned foreign investment inflows.

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