BBC Caribbean News in Brief

Officials in the Bahamas are hoping this year’s Miss Universe pageant will add some beauty to an ugly year for tourism.

Tourism Minister Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace says he expects every hotel room on Paradise and New Providence islands to be filled for the 30 August competition.

The minister told reporters that the event will inject millions of dollars into the struggling economy.

This year’s pageant will be at the Atlantis resort, which recently laid off 10 percent of its staff due to the global economic slowdown.

Incentive travel faces downturn

There is more evidence that the Caribbean could lose out from incentive travel.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, under fire for a weeklong Caribbean retreat attended by more than 30 sales employees and guests, says it will end such trips.

Insurance Commissioner of the US state, Adam Hamm, is calling for an audit of the insurer’s spending.

Blues Chairman Dennis Elbert said the Caribbean trip was booked in 2007, “when times were significantly different,” he said.

CEO Mike Unhjem said in a statement that the trips have been used as compensation for 18 years.

He said: “Given the current economic conditions, we should have more adamantly questioned the appropriateness of this trip.”

US ‘is committed’ to Caribbean security

The United States says the current military exercises being conducted jointly with Caribbean troops is another demonstration of the US commitment to the security of the region.

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