Colors: Blue Color

Citizens of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique responded overwhelmingly to the call for designs in the Underwater Sculpture Park Competition. The design competition was a collaboration between the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Management Inc. (GUSMI). A total of 52 entries were received from a wide variety of persons including students as young as nine years old. The sculpture concepts were equally diverse and focused on Grenada’s spices, national heroes, history, folklore and festivals.  An expert panel met and judged the entries based on originality, the ability to reproduce the design in concrete, overall impact and representation of Grenadian folklore, history, culture and the environment.

The judges awarded the first prize to Alleyne Gulston of Hopevale, St. George for his design titled ‘Wet Fete-Spicemas Underwater’. His design gives an up close and vibrant look at important figures of Grenada’s biggest cultural celebration, featuring sculptures of the Wild Indian, Jab Jab, Shortknee and Vieux Corp. The judges were very impressed with his artistry and designs and the fact that they could readily be turned into concrete sculptures.

Second place went to Brianna Baptiste of Mt. Moritz, St.George for her design titled ‘La Diablesse’ which depicts the folkloric female figure that bears one human foot and a cow’s hoof, hidden by a long draping dress. The previous La Diablesse sculpture deteriorated and has not been a feature of the park for a number of years.

Nimeka Drakes of Old Westerhall, St. David captured third place with her design ‘Dance D Bélé Oh.’ Her design depicts different aspects of the traditional creole folk dance including dancers with flowing skirts and drummers. In her submission, Drakes wrote that the ‘Bélé’ is not just a dance but a testimony of a rich culture entangled with a colourful history.

Speaking on the success of the competition, Member of GUSMI Phil Saye said, “ I am very happy that we received so many quality entries that display Grenada’s culture and heritage. These designs will be turned into sculptures that can tell Pure Grenada’s unique stories.”

Consolation prizes were also awarded to Westmorland Secondary’s Kevin Mehesh and Cheryce Cromwell as well as Marcus Smith representing the Grenada Community Library for children who entered the competition and produced innovative and original ideas. Cromwell’s design was based on the traditional dancing of the cocoa, while Mehesh’s drawing depicted a paratrooper in the US intervention. Marcus Smith‘s submission was titled ‘Lady of the Pan’ which depicted a female steel pan player.

Product Development Manager of the GTA Kirl Hoschtialek thanked all the participants for their entries and said, “ As part of a strategic plan, over the next five years a number of new sculptures will be added to the underwater park which will breathe new life into one of Grenada’s most iconic attractions.”

The Gambia has rejoined the Commonwealth family, almost five years after leaving it.

A flag-raising ceremony, at Marlborough House, the London headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat, marked its return.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, the chair of the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors, Norman Hamilton, members of the Committee, and The Gambian high commissioner, Francis Blain, attended the ceremony.

The decision to begin the process of applying for readmission was made in February 2017 by President Adama Barrow, who came to power following elections in December 2016.

Last December, the parliament of The Gambia unanimously affirmed the country’s desire to rejoin the Commonwealth, thereby fulfilling one of the final steps in the organisation’s membership process.

Its application was unanimously supported by the current 52-member states and The Gambia will now be invited to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April in London.

Secretary-General Scotland said, “When The Gambia left in 2013, the heads of government expressed their regret in its leaving the Commonwealth family. We’ve looked forward to The Gambia’s return and were delighted when, after his election victory last year, President Barrow pledged to return. The Gambia’s application to rejoin has been unanimously accepted by all 52-member states, who welcome back their brothers and sisters to again play their full part in the Commonwealth family.”

The High Commissioner to be of The Gambia, Francis Blain  said, “I am thrilled to represent my country as it formally rejoins the Commonwealth after an absence of several years – and to become High Commissioner rather than Ambassador. The Gambia looks forward to being able both to contribute to and benefit from the collective wisdom of the Commonwealth family of countries, and to playing an active role in supporting the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the many other organisations and initiatives that flourish as expressions of Commonwealth connection. The Government and people of The Gambia will also draw on all that the Commonwealth collectively has to offer, assisting in practical ways to address a wide range of pressing issues – including protecting the environment and tackling climate change, and the empowerment of women and young people.”

The stars were out in numbers for the latest Marvel blockbuster, as they, like their fans wore traditional African attire to the European premiere of ‘Black Panther,’ as major A-listers including; Hollywood star John Boyega, singer Leona Lewis, grime mega-star Stormzy graced the black carpet at London's Eventim Apollo.

‘Black Panther’ is Marvel's first film with a cast of all-Black superheroes with the film's actors and fans collectively being vocal about how its release exemplifies a positive portrayal of Blackness and Africa. One of its stars, Lupita Nyong'o spoke of the gruelling boot camp she had to undertake to get in shape for the role. British Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya said: “The film turns Western colonialism on its head.”

The highly-anticipated Marvel film doesn't hit cinemas until Feb. 13, but it's already broken a huge record: within the first 24 hours of presales going live, it was revealed that it is already the bestselling Marvel Cinematic Universe movie in advance ticket sales, surpassing ‘Captain America: Civil War.’

Later this month Marvel Studios will be presenting an event at New York Fashion week called 'Black Panther: Welcome to Wakanda' to show off clothes inspired by the new superhero movie.

Key figures in the region are to be at the heart of the new Greater Birmingham Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce (GBCCC), it was revealed today.

Launched by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, the move is an initiative to drive trade between the Midlands and the Commonwealth.

Keith Stokes-Smith, chairman of the Birmingham Commonwealth Association, has agreed to serve as president and will be joined on the executive committee by:

·         Nasir Awan MBE DL chairman of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce and chief exeucitve of Awan Marketing International plc

·         Anita Bhalla OBE former senior BBC executive who is now chair of Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham. She has been part of the Birmingham Social Justice Commission, led by the Bishop of Birmingham.

·         Lloyd Broad Head of European and international affairs at Birmingham City Council


·         Claire Brunning Head of corporate banking for HSBC Birmingham

·         John Crabtree OBE DL Former lawyer and well-known business figure in Birmingham who is Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant for the West Midlands. He is also chairman of the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel overseeing Birmingham City Council’s implementation of the recommendations of the Kerslake review. Mr Crabtree, a former president of Birmingham Chamber, has a wide variety of business, community and charitable interests, predominantly in the West Midlands.

·         Preet Gill MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, who is international development minister in the shadow cabinet.

·         Deb Leary OBE Chief executive of Staffordshire-based Forensic Pathways who was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her commitment to entrepreneurship and the community.

·         Martin Levermore MBE Chief executive of Medical Devices Technology International Limited (MDTI) and chairman of  trade and business at the Birmingham Commonwealth Association.


·         Rupi Nandra MBE Head of international programmes at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.


·         Adam Parker Manager of aviation strategy and forecasting at Birmingham Airport.


·         Alex de Ruyter Professor and director of the Centre for Brexit Studies at Birmingham City University.  He has published over 60 research outputs, including leading international journals.


·         Mark Smith Executive director of business engagement at Aston University.

·         Professor Louise Toner Associate dean at Birmingham City University faculty of health representing the British Commonwealth Association.

·         Tom Brett Young Immigration specialist at law firm VWV Birmingham, which set up a Brexit planning team in the wake of the referendum.

The Commonwealth Chamber becomes the tenth division of the GBCC and will offer a membership-based international gateway for firms wishing to develop bilateral trade opportunities in Commonwealth countries.

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the GBCC, said: “I’m delighted that we have gathered such an experienced and high-profile committee for the GBCCC.

“As we approach Brexit, we believe trade with Commonwealth countries will become even more vital and out move has been given huge impetus with the awarding of the 2022 Commonwealth Games to Birmingham.”

GBCC chief operating officer Russell Jeans said: “The committee of the new Commonwealth Chamber will now work vigorously to ensure that Birmingham is at the top of its game in driving trade between the city and the Commonwealth.

“At its inaugural meeting this week, ideas were already flowing and we will be announcing further key appointments over the coming weeks.”

Paul Kehoe, president of the GBCC, said: “This is a tremendous step forward for the Chamber and one that more firmly puts us on the international stage and underlining are place in the world of trade.”

Mr Faulkner and Mr Jeans will represent the GBCC on the committee.

To find out more, or register your interest in becoming a member, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0845 603 6650.

This Valentine's Day couples can share exclusive new sensuous experiences at sophisticated Maldives dreamscape, Huvafen Fushi. Where boundless beauty seduces and enchants. Where fantasy flourishes.

Fashionable global icon, Huvafen Fushi, carries a perennial stature, always fluid and forever pushing boundaries. The eclectic vision has evolved into a culture with four distinctive traits: 'Fearless Imagination', 'Seductive Embrace', 'Passionately Discreet' and 'Dynamic Connoisseur'. Defining a bold yet sensuous and alluring vision, the resort offers a sanctuary for lovers of life seeking intimate moments together, exploring new frontiers of indulgence in the island's seductive embrace.

There are temptations to discover this Valentine's Day as Dhoni sails billow, venturing further into the azure beyond, and the soothing sanctuary of the world's first underwater spa beckoning beneath the surface. Every story is different, each experience unique.

Rooms at the sought after ICEHOTEL in Sweden are always in hot demand and with HRH William and Kate's Royal Tour of Scandinavia this week, this unique Swedish experience will no doubt move up people's bucket lists.

The unique new design Ice Rooms will be unveiled for the first time on 14th December 2018 and are available now with Best Served Scandinavia at this winter's price.

Located 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, this ever-evolving hotel – with rooms built entirely of ice - is the original ICEHOTEL and one of the most unique places to stay in the world.  Rooms get booked up well in advance, so being quick when the opening dates are first released increases the chance of getting your preferred dates.

Weighing in at less than a bag of sugar, Twycross Zoo’s newest baby is thriving much to the delight of his keepers and visitors alike.

Pogo Junior is the first baby to mother Spring and father Pogo, the diddy Dik Dik is the first of its kind to be born at the award winning conservation charity on 4th January.

Over 80% of babies born at the Zoo last year were from species that form part of the European Endangered Species Programmes (EEPs) & European Studbooks (ESB) breeding programmes.

Set against a backdrop of historical fortress walls, the luxury all-suite hotel, Cugó Gran Maċina Grand Harbour, has opened in Senglea in Malta.  The much-anticipated opening follows the extensive renovation of one of Grand Harbour's most famous landmarks: Sheer Bastion.

Located just five miles (or 10 minutes by water taxi) from Valletta - European Capital of Culture 2018 – there is no better time to visit Malta.

The iconic Sheer Bastion structure was originally built in 1554 during the reign of Grand Master Claude de la Sengle. Cugó Gran Maċina Grand Harbour derives its name from the large sheer crane structure (macchina) used for centuries to welcome seafarers and to hoist the heavy masts and cargo.  Cugó Gran Maċina Grand Harbour is a centerpiece of the Cottonera Regeneration Project that has also recently seen the transformation of the Vittoriosa waterfront, which the hotel overlooks.

Juxtaposing the old with the new, the design of Cugó Gran Maċina Grand Harbour, was overseen by Maltese architect Edwin Mintoff in conjunction with Milanese Interior Design firm Daaa Haus.

Cugó Gran Maċina Grand Harbour's luxurious minimalist design preserves original historic features to blend natural and traditional materials with modern, clean lines. The architecture incorporates glass and natural light to throw relief on the high vaulted ceilings, chalk-white walls, limestone, and slate in the large communal areas.  Lacquered raw steel, lava stone, limed oak, Carrara marble and Maltese hard stone are also used in the hotel's elegant design, while the Old and New Worlds are seamlessly brought together in the creative use of lighting, tufted wool rugs, bespoke Italian furnishings, and locally commissioned artworks by Victor Agius.

The stylish and comfortable 21 suites range from 40 square metres to 130 square metres and all offer unobstructed views of the Grand Harbour and the surrounding marina.  The suites feature large living rooms and bedrooms, Milano sofa beds, free-standing baths and walk-in showers. Impressive mezzanines float above custom crafted bathrooms and Tom Dixon and Flos & Louis Paulson light fixtures are used in the hotel lobby as well as some of the suites.

The two signature suites - the Macina Suite and the Presidential Suite – each have 130 square metres of living space, a bathtub with a view, and kitchenettes.  The Presidential Suite also has a spectacular harbour terrace.

A rooftop pool offers breath-taking views of Vittoriosa and Cospicua, extending as far as the city of Valletta.   With complete privacy guaranteed, here guests may choose to take part in various seasonal activities on offer such as aqua gym, yoga and pilates.  Exclusive appointments with personal trainers can also be arranged, in addition to in-room spa treatments.

The 930 square metre rooftop terrace overlooking the Three Cities can accommodate events for up to 1,000 guests, and is ideal for weddings, special events and corporate functions.

Hammett's Macina Restaurant, opening on the 22nd February will be run by the renowned Chef and Restaurateur, Chris Hammett, and will serve Maltese cuisine with an international twist.  The hotel also has a bar and café, and a boardroom for small conferences.

General Manager, Thorsten Sander, previously manager of Hotel Nassauer Hof in Wiesbaden, one of Germany's leading Grand Hotels, brings a wealth of experience to Cugó Gran Maċina Grand Harbour, having worked in a number of hotels in Germany and the United States.

Together with its sister property, the acclaimed luxury villa hotel Cugó Gran in Menorca, the opening of Cugó Gran Maċina Grand Harbour establishes the Cugó Gran Collection which is under the management of IBB Hotel Collection. IBB currently operates 10 hotels across Europe and is part of the Von der Heyden Group which has over 25 years of expertise in leisure and real estate.

Says IBB Hotel Collection CEO Vladimir Saal: “Our Cugó Gran hotel in Malta enjoys an unrivalled historic location and has been designed to surpass the needs of the most discerning traveller looking for a memorable experience.
 Cugó Gran Maċina has the potential to regain its former glory and live again as an integral historical part of the Grand Harbour. No expense has been spared to achieve this level of luxury.”

The wonder of science and engineering is being demonstrated today with a photography exhibition the likes of which the world has never seen before: one where all of the photographs are invisible. Opened by The Big Bang Fair, Dotography: The World’s First Invisible Photography Exhibition is a gallery of printed images so small that they are totally invisible to the naked eye, and can only be seen through a special microscope.

The microscopic pictures at the gallery were all created using state-of-the-art nanotechnology from engineers at Scrona. The company employs a gold nanoparticle printing process that enables them to print super-sharp and detailed pictures to an astonishingly small scale: comparable to the diameter of a single human hair.

Upon entry to the exhibition in Birmingham, visitors could be forgiven for thinking they are looking at dozens of empty photo frames. But once armed with a hi-spec handheld microscope that clips onto the back of a regular smartphone, visitors will find a world of miniaturised photography open up in front of their eyes.

The unique photography exhibition has been designed by The Big Bang Fair to inspire young people to consider a future in STEM. The gallery allows these youngsters to witness ground-breaking developments first-hand (thanks to the invisible tech) and gain a greater appreciation of the ordinary and extraordinary roles that STEM plays in our lives (thanks to the subject of the photographs).

Among the 22 pictures on display throughout the gallery space are a number of iconic photographs that celebrate landmark moments from the world of STEM: including Marie Curie at work in her laboratory in 1900, Albert Einstein with fellow theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer in 1950 and Neil Armstrong taking mankind’s first ever steps on the Moon in 1969 

In addition to the historic STEM milestones, the gallery features a number of original submissions depicting the wonder of STEM in our everyday lives. These images were taken by people in the STEM community, school students and celebrities with a penchant for the world of science and engineering. Among the submissions is an image from The Great British Bake-Off finalist and engineer Andrew Smyth (who supplied an image of a Rolls Royce jet engine cake), wildlife expert Liz Bonnin (a picture of a Galapagos fern), and actors Ben Miller (a picture of his child’s Lego engineering skills) and Lucy Porter (a baby bump selfie).

Beth Elgood, Director of Communications at EngineeringUK, organisers of The Big Bang Fair, said: “Our invisible photography exhibition sets out to inspire younger generations and show how the power of science can be harnessed to create a truly novel experience that is unlike anything that’s come before it. Inspiration is at the heart of The Big Bang Fair, where young visitors, their teachers and parents have the chance to get hands-on with engaging STEM activities, workshops and shows and discover where science, technology, engineering and maths could take them in the future.”

Martin Schmid, Chief Information Officer at Scrona, commented: “It was a delight to work alongside The Big Bang Fair to commission the smallest photography exhibition ever created. We hope visitors young and old will have fun hunting down the invisible images and that the unique experience will demonstrate the boundless possibilities of STEM to them – in turn inspiring the next generation to take a keen interest in the ever-changing field, perhaps even leading them to become a part of it themselves in the future.”

A besotted pair of kissing budgies nicknamed ‘Meghan and Harry’ are being cared for by the RSPCA after they were found dumped out in the cold in Coventry.

The feathered friends - who are inseparable - have gone from rags to riches in the space of 24 hours, from being dumped out with the bins to landing five star lodgings at the home of an RSPCA inspector.

The budgies were found by a passerby  in Lowfield Road at 5pm yesterday (Thursday), when he spotted a woman wearing a scarf and woolly hat lowering the birdcage to the floor by the nearby bins, before dashing away.

Rushing over to take a look, he discovered the blue and yellow budgies inside.The man kindly took the pair to a nearby vet to be checked over, calling the RSPCA.

Inspector Herchy Boal who is now investigating said: “I can’t understand why these gorgeous budgies have been dumped like this. They are young and friendly and they are so in love, they just won’t stop kissing each other!

“I can only imagine this woman who was seen dumping their cage had decided she couldn’t or wouldn’t look after them anymore - she had even left bird seed in the cage so she obviously wanted to give them the best chance of survival. Either way, it’s really irresponsible to dump vulnerable birds like this out on such a cold night, anything could have happened to them.”

Thankfully, after being checked over by a vet, the birds are in good health and will be fostered by inspector Boal at her home, until a place become available at a nearby RSPCA rehoming centre.

She added: “If anyone has any information about the birds’ previous owner, they can contact me on our inspector’s appeal line on 0300 123 8018.”

Last week, the RSPCA was called to collect and rehome 350 budgies from a home in Sussex.

Earlier this week, DEFRA announced an outbreak of bird flu in the Dorset area, and extended the protection zone to the whole of the UK, meaning all bird owners including budgies, chickens and birds of prey must adhere to specific government measures to prevent the spread of the disease.


Africa Tourism Partners, a member of TravelMarketingNetwork has unveiled a dynamic line-up of renowned experts for its forthcoming Africa MICE Masterclass scheduled to take from 20 to 23 February 2018 at Emperors Palace, near O.R, Tambo Airport in Gauteng, South Africa.

This professional development course, which focuses on Africa‘s MICE industry practitioners, offers a comprehensive curriculum to be delivered by some of the world’s best in the MICE industry.  Led by Professor Ernie Heath, Emeritus Professor, University of Pretoria and Gillian Saunders, Deputy CEO of Grant Thornton, course faculty include Dirk Elzinga, Managing Director of Convention Industry Consultants; Esmare Steinhofel, ICCA’s Regional Director for Africa; Christelle Grohmann, Director at Grant Thornton; Martin Jansen Van Vuureen, Strategic Development and Planning Director at Grant Thornton; Prof Adesoji Adesugbe, Vice President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce, Nigeria; Miller Matola, CEO of Millvest and former CEO of Brand South Africa;  Karel Ooms, Founder and Owner of Strategies4Meetings Consultancy and Training in MICE, Belgium; and Nomasonto Ndlovu, CEO of Limpopo Tourism.

Being Africa’s first MICE industry masterclass, the course will be delivered through a blend of lectures, practical exercises, insightful presentations, case studies and discussions in a supportive learning environment. This approach will also enable participants to build valuable connections, share experiences and exchange ideas.

According to Kwakye Donkor, CEO of African Tourism Partners, the course offers an exceptional and unique learning and professional development opportunity for all participants. “It is an innovative approach for industry practitioners and destination marketing officials to enhance and refresh their skills sets and competencies in order to strategically and practically respond to key global trends”, he says. “Global meeting planners have a wide spectrum of global destinations to choose from when deciding where to host their next conference or business event. We therefore need to step up our game in marketing our convention centres, bureaux and destinations. If not, we will never secure our fair share of the global MICE market”, Donkor stresses.

The key focus areas include MICE sales processes, lead generation, bidding for mega events, building a performance dashboard and importantly, how to bring it all together. Both public and private sector stakeholder will benefit from this course as they will be equipped with the practical knowledge and skills needed to be successful in their jobs as business tourism practitioners.

Following the impact of two Category 5 hurricanes in September, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism has developed a 150-day rolling marketing plan to share with industry stakeholders.
"This new plan has been developed to establish priorities and a road map of activities we will pursue as our destination recovers," Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty stated.
She noted that the "abridged plan" will be fluid and adaptable to the current dynamic recovery environment and the Department of Tourism is committed to continuing to share regular progress updates with travel partners and the local community.
The Commissioner disclosed that the Department is working with a significantly reduced budget, as marketing activities are funded by room tax revenues. "With a significant number of accommodations unavailable for most of 2018, the marketing plan reflects working with a reduced budget," she explained, noting that the U.S. Virgin Islands will maintain a limited presence at key trade shows across the United States.
Public relations and marketing efforts will focus on sharing Virgin Islanders' stories of resilience. "Our digital marketing efforts will primarily focus on social media, where we will highlight segments such as cruise, shopping, dining, watersports, beaches, romance, culture, available accommodations and yachting," she said. Efforts and messaging toward telling stories of resilience will use the hashtag #USVIStillNice.
"As we recover from the challenges posed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, we have no doubt that there is an opportunity for the U.S. Virgin Islands - with a refreshed product and visitor experience - to become the premier tourism destination in the Caribbean," the Commissioner asserted.
She reported that airline and cruise line development meetings will continue this year, and that voluntourism opportunities are being launched across the Territory, a detailed plan for which will be unveiled during the first quarter of 2018.
The Territory's film industry will also remain a focus, with the Department attending industry trade shows specifically targeted to this audience.
The Commissioner expressed her ongoing appreciation of the business community and travel partners for their support of the destination and their continued collaboration.
The Department will make the 150-day plan available to stakeholders over the next several days.

One of Haiti's historic hotels is encouraging travelers to visit the Caribbean destination to celebrate Carnival 2018 next month.

Marc Pierre-Louis, General Manager of Le Plaza Hotel, said this year's festival, the theme of which is "Ayiti sou wout chanjman" (Haiti on the road to change), is "a celebration of who we are as a people. It is a time when the whole nation comes together. The music is transcending, the energy is pulsating ... it's a much needed break from the stresses of life for locals as well as for our guests, it is a remedy for the soul."

The national carnival, which returns to Port-au-Prince after three years, will take place in the capital from Sunday, February 11 to Tuesday, February 13 this year. Carnival is traditionally celebrated from Sunday to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which is observed through Easter.

"Our hotel, which offers authentic Haitian hospitality, exceptionally high levels of guest service and an organic ambience, is the only one located directly on the carnival parade route," Pierre-Louis pointed out, explaining that Le Plaza's carnival stand is accessible through the hotel gardens. "So we encourage visitors, including members of our Diaspora, to make Le Plaza Hotel their home base," he added.

Le Plaza is offering its "Kanaval 2018" package, which includes a three-night stay, a complimentary parking space per room, daily breakfast and buffet dinners, a keepsake T-shirt and access to the official Le Plaza catered stand featuring savory Haitian bouillon - a hearty beef and vegetable soup.

Rates for the "Kanaval 2018" package start at US$200 per person, per night (double occupancy required) and are available for three-night stays beginning Sunday, February 11.

The family-run Haitian hotel features stunning artwork by local artists and offers comfort and convenience with an outdoor pool, full service restaurant, fitness room, business center, and internet access in all rooms and public areas.

Le Plaza is just a few minutes' drive from the iconic Mupanah (Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien), the National Museum of Art and Marché de Fer (a public market dating back to 1889), which guests are encouraged to visit.

There's been a lot going on in Botswana over the last couple of years. Yes, the geography is as dramatic as ever, the wildlife as plentiful, and the number of tourists as low. On the camp-front however, there's been change-a-plenty with some of our old favourites emerging after fabulous re-vamps and some new openings set to become much loved additions.

The New:

Sable Alley - 12 tents and a classic Okavango view complete with its own hippo pod. Set in the Khwai private reserve it is a perfect spot for lion, leopard, wild dog, elephant, buffalo and of course the majestic sable antelope. In short, proper Okavango and uniquely Botswana

Gomoti Plains - 10 tents on raised wooden decks overlooking the Gomoti River. Travel the pristine waterways by motor boat or mekoro and marvel at the dense wildlife concentrations of this relatively unexplored patch of wilderness. Walking, night drives and classic comfort in a region once the local haunt of many of the older Okavango guides.

Qorokwe Camp - Set within easy reach of a diverse world of Delta habitats, it's a top safari destination with a vast local lion pride and plenty of elephant. Nine elegant suites including a family unit overlook the lagoon colloquially known as 'the place where buffalo broke through the bush into the water'.

Pangolin Khwai - Planned specifically with photographers in mind, and featuring a dedicated editing and post production area along with screens for presentations and workshops. Accommodating 12 guests and hosted by a resident photographic guide it will be a great place to hone skills while enjoying off-road sightings, night drives and mokoro excursions.

A debate co organised by the Birmingham Commonwealth Assoc, The City Council and the 'Round Table' publication on the Commonwealth entitled:  This House believes that the Commonwealth prevents the UK from moving on from the past and dealing with the future. Certainly controversial and will certainly be hotly refuted.

Chair of the motion will be Jaspreet Singh, President of the Birmingham City University Union.

Proposing the motion will be Nic Cheeseman. Nic is the Professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham and the author of Democracy in Africa: Successes, failures and the struggle for political reform. His analysis has appeared in the Economist, Le Monde, Financial Times, Newsweek, the Washington Post, Wall St Journal, New York Times, Guardian, the Mail & Guardian and the Daily Nation. In total, his columns and articles have been read over a million times.

Nic is seconded by Alana Tomlin, Birmingham University student.

Opposing the motion will be Keith Stokes Smith, a Chartered Secretary and Accountant by qualification, Founding Chairman of the Birmingham Commonwealth Association (Communities, Education and Trade and Business groups), formerly Group Company Secretary of British Home Stores Plc and subsequently Wickes Plc. Keith retired early in 2000 and continues to run his own small property acquisition/development company and has expanded his unpaid work in a number of voluntary capacities. He is the Consul for Lithuania in the West Midlands, President of the Birmingham Consular Association, Patron of Birmingham Town Hall/Symphony Hall, Chairman of Wickes Aid, a Magistrate and Council representative for the Worcestershire bench on the Magistrate Association and founder/President of a number of organisations in South Devon.

Keith is seconded by Darrel Blake, a student from BCU.

Entry to the debate will be FREE of charge but will need to be pre booked via Eventbrite at:

In the presence of visiting French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Airbus has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) on the further development of industrial cooperation in Tianjin. The agreement was signed by He Lifeng, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China and Fabrice Brégier, Airbus COO and President Commercial Aircraft in Beijing today. Both sides agree to further enhance their industrial partnership in Tianjin and strengthen the cooperation with regards to technical innovation, engineering capabilities and supply chain expansion.

On the same day, Airbus and its Chinese partners have also signed a framework agreement on ramping-up its A320 production rate at its Final Assembly Line in Tianjin to six aircraft per month.

This industrial ramp-up targets five aircraft by early 2019 and six per month by early 2020. Since its inauguration in 2008 the Final Assembly Line in Tianjin has assembled a total of 354 A320 Family aircraft (by 31st December, 2017). Deliveries to Chinese customers and to operators throughout the Asia-Pacific region have included the first A320neo in the second half of 2017.

“The industrial cooperation between Airbus and China and its continued success are a true role-model of a winning partnership between China and Europe. Together with our Chinese partners we are proud to lift our cooperation to new heights”, says Fabrice Brégier, Airbus COO and President of Commercial Aircraft.

Airbus’ industrial footprint in China dates back to 1985, when the first product sub-contracting agreement was signed with Xi’an Aircraft Company. The total value of industrial cooperation between Airbus and Chinese aviation industry in 2017 amounts to nearly 600 million US dollars.