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The multitude of world boxing organizations is a cause for much confusion among fans of the sport around the world. There are many titles to go around in the jurisdictions of the World Boxing Association (WBA), the World Boxing Council (WBC), the International Boxing Federation (IBF), the International Boxing Organization (IBO), the World Boxing Federation (WBF) and the World Boxing Organization (WBO).
Then, there is Ring Magazine, the Commonwealth Boxing Council and the many offshoots of the world organizations. One has to constantly check to be updated on who's who in the various listings.
There is a great expansion going on in boxing. There are those who feel the sport is being watered down due to the many champions in each weight categories. Others point to the increased popularity of the sport throughout Europe, Africa and now Asia.
The case can easily be made that boxing now enjoys more worldwide prominence than ever before. No longer is North America, with the United States as the anchor nation, the dominant boxing area of the world.
Once to put on a really big boxing show, promoters had to go to Las Vegas or Atlantic City in the United States. In Europe, few major boxing events took place outside of Great Britain.
Now, the rest of Europe has caught up. The Klitschko brothers (Vitali and Wladimir) show no interest in boxing in North America. They are huge names all over Europe and draw crowds wherever they fight even without the venue being in Great Britain.
There is indeed a more balanced world culture for boxing. The view here is that the WBO is doing a great job in feeding this diversity for the betterment of boxing. While the other world organizations seem still to be concentrating primarily on North America, the WBO has a strong focus on Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
Our very own Sherman 'Tank' Williams is one of the beneficiaries of the new marketing template of the WBO. He now reigns as the supreme heavyweight over WBO Asia, inclusive of the vast China Zone of which the Macau Province is a part, thus the three titles he won recently from Chauncy Welliver.
According to the WBO website, the objective is to create substantive opportunities for more boxers.
"In the last decade, the WBO has established many regional titles, enriching the world of boxing with a variety of outstanding possibilities that allow the champions an opportunity to reach a world championship title. This variety enables boxers to achieve their goals and excellence, while reaching World Class stature."
Thanks to the WBO's world initiative, Williams now has a great opportunity to reach new boxing heights. Istvan Kovacs of Hungary is the chairman of the WBO. He and his associates are doing a wonderful job.
o To respond to his column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last weekend was a great weekend for chess in The Bahamas. A total of 14 players, ranging from high school students to seasoned adults, took to the boards at C.W. Sawyer Primary School to play in the 2012 Jack Rogers Summer Splash Tournament.
The two-day event - a new entry to the Bahamas Chess Federation's (BCF) calendar - was organized as a four-round Swiss game in 60 minutes, and was held June 23-24.
Round 1 went according to form, with all higher-rated players defeating their opponents.
Round 2 is when the competition heated up. Lemaro Thompson, returning to federation action after an extended period of university studies, secured a clear advantage over former two-time National Champion Byron Small, but failed to convert before his time expired and fell in bitter defeat.
Also in Round 2, Kyle Curry, a College of The Bahamas student and new federation player, crushed veteran Andre White in a match that would earn Curry the "Biggest Upset" prize.
Round 3 saw Byron Small win against defending National Champion Ken Gibson, setting the stage for Small to win the top prize with one more victory.
Paired in the fourth round against the young talent of Sandeep Gali, Small played an aggressive gambit line that required extremely accurate play on the part of Gali.
For most of the match, Gali was able to fend off Small's incessant pressure, but ultimately the weight of the position was too much to bear.
Small uncorked a simple but vicious knight move that spelled doom for his opponent. Gali was forced to give up material to extend play, but with the result all but decided, Gali eventually resigned, handing Small his fourth win of the tournament and the first-place trophy.
By placing third in this event, Lemaro Thompson automatically qualified for play in this year's national championship, scheduled for November.
The federation's Grand Prix standings with four events to go have Yan Lyansky and Byron Small tied for first place.
Competition is proving to be extremely fierce in 2012, and the remainder of the federation's calendar will be intriguing to follow.
For more information on the Bahamas Chess Federation and its scheduled events, the public is asked to visit the federation's website or its Facebook page.
Executives at Bank of The Bahamas (BOB) are reporting an "overwhelming" response since the launch of its e-commerce platform.
Heralded as the first such program for businesses in the country, the local institution is adamant on performing due diligence during the approval process, resulting in long queues. More than a dozen businesses have signed on and received approval in the last three weeks, according to Ian Thompson, retail manager of sales, products and services.
But many more are on a waiting list as BOB sorts through the applications.
"We've had an overwhelming response, mostly from existing clients at the bank. We also see interest from the hotel sector, and a number of people from the boating sector. The bank has also engaged in discussions with the government and their entities," according to Thompson.
Security is a major focus for the local institution, he said.
The e-commerce platform was delayed for months as the bank tested and re-tested the platform. As the first of its kind in The Bahamas, capable of handling transactions using Bahamian dollars, executives are keen to get the concept right.
"We are taking our time with approvals," Thompson added. "But the gates are open. We've seen a lot of people interested in e-commerce, so we definitely have to be cautious. We welcome the business, and yet we don't want to take undue risk."
One area of particular focus, he explained, is signing up smaller hotels throughout The Bahamas. The e-commerce platform is expected to make transactions for these modest hoteliers far more efficient, giving hem greater exposure to an international marketplace.
Thompson revealed that BOB is also in active discussions with the government concerning the centralization of property tax collection.
An online portal would allow property owners to pay the tax in a few easy steps through a government website, he explained. The collection of property tax remains a major problem in The Bahamas, as successive governments tend to receive a fraction of what's owed.
The new Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration has pledged a crackdown on the collection process in a bid to boost revenue.
Manager of BOB's Card Center operations John Washburn agreed that e-commerce has received a "warm reception" at BOB.
He noted that the Marina Operators of The Bahamas (MOB) is considering an e-commerce product whereby members can take care of fees and even pay fuel bills in advance.
"We are looking to see how we can make it more efficient on both sides," Washburn said. "We'll give them a special rate, by managing them as a group and getting that exclusivity."
The criteria for setting up an e-commerce account includes a pre-existing website. Clients must also provide a "retention of funds" fee equivalent to roughly 10 percent of the monthly income. Washburn said two to five percent is charged to monthly transaction values. MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discovery cards are all supported by the platform.
As we all know, technology is indeed a great thing, as it assists people in accessing a whole wealth of wonderful information on the Internet, and is also extremely beneficial to people in business who can market their product or service through websites, and communicate with people instantaneously. I'm the first to admit, that the Internet has revolutionized the way in which I conduct my business. For example: I go to the recording studio every four weeks and record 20 "Time To Think" radio programs. The next day, the recording studio emails me the edited programs for me to check out. Once I've listened to the programs and okayed them, I forward them with the click of a mouse to all the radio stations presently airing the program. My "Time To Think" articles are also sent to the various newspapers who presently carry my column.
So, we've established that the Internet is indeed most beneficial to a whole lot of people. However, as I have stated many times in the past, whenever there's an advantage, invariably there are also disadvantages. Now, one of the main disadvantages to all of the technology available to us today, is that the young folks are so into this technology that they literally can't seem to exist without it. It's difficult for the youngsters of today to sit quietly for a while and participate in a simple conversation. They either need to be tuned into their I-pod, on their I-pad surfing the net, or glued to the screen as they watch TV all day long. As the title of today's article proclaims, I honestly believe, that we've produced a generation of zombies.
I remember well some years ago being invited to visit the Houses of Parliament in Ottawa, Canada when they were in session. I was excited and indeed fascinated as I observed the actual workings of government from the gallery. Recently a group of young athletes in The Bahamas were invited to attend a sitting of Parliament, and you could see very plainly from the looks on their faces, as the cameras picked them up one by one, they were obviously bored to death.
What a terrible pity that young people in this day and age, apparently have great difficulty in just sitting quietly somewhere, as they observe, and take in what is going on around them. It would indeed appear, that without their iPod, iPad, cell phone, or TV, they are completely lost. Yes indeed, it's very sad to come to this conclusion, but I believe, that we have indeed produced a generation of zombies.
o THINK ABOUT IT! Email:email@example.com. Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.
BY KEVA LIGHTBOURNE
Guardian Senior Reporter
One of the Bahamian straw vendors who was recently arraigned in a New Yorkâ federal court was released on her own recognizance following a court appearance yesterday, The Nassau Guardian can reveal.
Tracey Davis is set to re-appear in court on October 14 for sentencing.
Her release came just two days after the government announced that Elliot Sagor of the New York law firm Hogan Lovells had been hired to assist in matters related to the arrest and detention of the straw vendors.
Sagor is a former Assistant USâ Attorney for the Southern District of New York. According to the firm's website, his practice includes complex ...
The largest marketing campaign in the U.S. for The Bahamas has officially launched, Guardian Business can confirm, touching an estimated 120 million Americans every month.
Papa John's, a multi-billon-dollar corporation, is now advertising its "Caribbean Combo" through commercials, flyers, radio and online advertisements. A "blitz" of advertising is expected across all 600 locations in the U.S., which has the potential to draw thousands of additional tourists to the country, according to Jim Swieter, president of TrendRight Marketing and a key executive behind the initiative.
More than 24 hotels in The Bahamas are now participating in the marketing push. If a customer orders 15 Caribbean Combos over the course of a year, it entitles the individual to three nights free at a participating hotel.
Customers are directed to the TrendRight Travel website (www.trendrighttravel.com) and bookings are made from there.
"This is the largest marketing campaign in the U.S. right now for the Caribbean," he said. "The days of putting an advertisement in a newspaper is not enough. And what's going on right now in the world is proof. We have to push it. It's like sifting for gold. You have to go through a lot of dirt for the pieces of gold to drop out."
Swieter said the The Bahamas' tourism industry has the opportunity to cash in. If 120 million Americans see the campaign, it is estimated that it could translate into tens of thousands of additional tourists.
The hope is U.S. tourists will add additional nights when they make the free hotel booking and become repeat visitors.
Part of the appeal of this campaign, apart from its size, is the inclusion of many Family Island hotels. Stakeholders are able to offer up rooms that are otherwise vacant as part of the initiative, capturing additional business they might not have.
David Johnson, the director general at the Ministry of Tourism, has called it an "ambitious program".
While the campaign is extremely broad, he said it's difficult to make any solid predictions on added business. He said awareness will ultimately stimulate business.
Swieter told Guardian Business he is now working with Bahamasair in terms of packaging and marketing.
"I'll be working with the other small Bahamian carriers as well to help their growth. We'll need to work closely to get these people in the Out Islands," he explained.
The marketing executive said the campaign is scheduled to expand well beyond The Bahamas, as this country is unlikely to have enough rooms to fill the demand.
A major partnership between a local lifestyles blog and a real estate company is proving to be fruitful, as its product offerings have been added to two online platforms.
Damianos Sotheby's International Realty recently announced an exclusive partnership with The 700 Experience, an experiential travel and lifestyle blog about the 700 Islands of The Bahamas.
George Damianos, president of Sotheby's International Realty, said that his company is incorporating this initiative as a value-added service that will differentiate his company from its competitors, as it looks to market leadership as its focus.
"Ultimately we see the impact of delivering an affluent lifestyle message, engaging and benefitting our buyers and sellers," he said. "This strategic partnership will undoubtedly increase awareness of the experiences to be had in The Bahamas," according to Vanessa Pritchard, founder and creator of The 700 Experience.
"Damianos Sotheby's International Realty sellers are no longer just selling Bahamian real estate, they are now selling the lifestyle that comes with it."
Maxine Hussey, director of operations at Damianos Sotheby's International Realty, said her team is delighted to exclusively partner with The 700 Experience, and it will be an integral addition to its online marketing platform and powerful marketing strategies.
As of July 2, The 700 Experience blog can be viewed on www.700Experience.com and SIRbahamas.com
The partnership comes within days of the Bahamas Real Estate Association's (BREA) launch of its official website.
The 700 Experience launched in April 2012.
Damianos Sotheby's International Realty has a total of 11 offices throughout The Bahamas with five offices in the Abacos, including two in Hope Town, one in Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay and Guana Cay, in addition to its offices in Nassau, Old Fort Bay and Lyford Cay, and offices in Eleuthera in Governor's Harbour and Spanish Wells. Its newest office is located in Georgetown, Exuma.
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The Inter-American Development Bank has approved a $16.5 million loan to modernize country's customs department and bolster revenue by tens of millions each year.
"Although The Bahamas is a vibrant economy, the country is somewhat isolated from international trade circles," said Mario Umana, IDB team leader for the project. "As a result of the changes and the technical support to be implemented under the program, The Bahamas have will modern and agile customs operations, and the country will be in a better position to join the World Trade Organization."
The loan, approved on Thursday, comes just a few months after the completion of the $83 million Nassau Container Port (NCP) on Arawak Cay, effectively centralizing all trade operations coming in and out of the country. A $16.5 million loan from the IDB is expected to now bring the Bahamas Customs Department (BCD), an essential component at the port, into the 21st century.
In a recent report from the IDB, it noted that WTO accession process may be seriously hindered by the operational and institutional limitations of the BCD. The Bahamas has sought WTO status for years. According to WTO's website, the country is now in the seventh stage of its application process, which represents the market access negotiations phase.
In other words, there is still a long way to go.
Perhaps most significantly, at least for the immediate future, is the IDB loan's potential to boost government revenue. BCD currently stands at 50 percent of the total income collected by the government, according to the report.
"There is also the fiscal impact of the inefficiencies in trade facilitation. A study by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) presents a loss that ranges from one to five percent of GDP caused by inefficient procedures," the IDB report stated. "In the case of The Bahamas, this loss will equal to $65.8 million, almost four times the total cost of this program."
Michael Maura Jr., the CEO of APD Limited, said the $16.5 million loan is desperately needed now that the country has launched its single port of entry for international freight.
He felt the $83 million Arawak Cay development will make any changes made by BCD that much more effective.
"I would say we were almost a prerequisite. I am not aware of what customs is planning, but I would imagine what we have done is a step in terms of helping them get the kinds of results they need," according to Maura.
That said, the port's CEO noted that the overhaul of infrastructure will be a "huge undertaking". He pointing out, when talking about customs in another country, it's not as simple as just Nassau. They will have to implement these procedures for other areas of The Bahamas.
"I know senior management in customs are eager to see this kind of process. It has always come down to money," he said. "They have been eager and anxious, and it comes down to timing and resources."
By the end of the program, the IDB said the cost of collecting revenue should decline 15 percent. Cargo manifests submitted electronically will dramatically rise from just 25 percent now to 85 percent, the report claimed. Customs declarations submitted electronically would surge from a minuscule two percent to 80 percent.
If successful, the revamp of customs could go a long way to reducing the government's national debt. This year's deficit, according to the recent budget communication, stands at $550 million.
Overall government debt is forecast at $4.607 billion, or 54.57 percent of GDP, by the end of the upcoming fiscal year.
More than 60,000 additional visitors are expected to touch down in Grand Bahama each year due to rising airlift from Bahamasair.
Bridgette King, director of sales at the Bahamas Tourism Office (BTO) in Florida told Guardian Business that four new mid-Atlantic gateways are on schedule to come online next month, translating into thousands of seats for Grand Bahama.
"Bahamasair is taking over Vision Airlines flights from Raleigh, Baltimore, Louisville and Richmond. On an annual basis, this could bring up to 62,400 seats into Grand Bahama. These flights translate into 1,200 seats per week from the four gateways," according to King.
"That service is going to be discontinued by Vision Airlines, so we at the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation worked along with Bahamasair to take it over so that there would be no disruption in service."
The flights originating out of Baltimore and Louisville arrive and depart on Thursdays and Sundays, while those flights out of Raleigh/Durham and Richmond arrive and depart on Fridays and Mondays.
King said her team is confident that this newest service will be successful as all of the major online travel agents and traditional tour operators are already selling seats.
Last month, BTO employees went on sales missions to each of those four gateways.
She further noted that quite a hefty sum was paid to promote these new flights through various media including online, digital, radio and television. However, she remained tight-lipped as to exactly how much was spent.
One of those promotional avenues undertaken by the BTO was the modification made to Bahamasair's website.
"We've worked with Bahamasair to refresh [the] Bahamasair.com website, as this is the call to action in our TV and online advertising in those markets. Once the customer clicks for details, they are linked to a special landing page to get information on the service, the hotel details and up to a $400 instant air credit," King explained.
She admits that tapping into these mid-Atlantic markets is new for Bahamasair, but feels that the national flag carrier and Grand Bahama will benefit tremendously from this newest service.
"These markets used to be very popular with Laker Airlines back in the 1990s and ever since then, we've noticed a major void and now with Bahamasair now going into these major cities, The Bahamas will once again be able to benefit."
The new routes come into effect on May 17 from Baltimore and May 18 from Richmond/Raleigh and Durham.