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Can You Afford Not to Have Travel Insurance?

Having travel insurance should be a no brainer for those of us who travel. But most people don’t think of it until it’s too late.

Take my friend, Jessica, for instance. On her first trip to Africa, she arrived at her destination only to find that her luggage had not. For two weeks, all she had was the clothes on her back, a few items given to her by others on the trip, and some personal articles. Her suitcase went on its own adventure. Following her return home, she had to produce receipts for the contents but received a check from the airline that only covered the cost of a new suitcase.

In the grand scheme of things, a lost suitcase is a temporary inconvenience. But what if my friend had become ill and had to be hospitalized, or worse, evacuated home? Without travel insurance with appropriate coverage, her trip and her finances would definitely have been ruined.

Why then are we so cavalier about travel insurance?

One of the reasons we give so little thought to travel insurance is because we believe it will be prohibitively expensive. But at a cost of a fraction of the actual price of the trip, it’s a small amount to pay for our peace of mind.

There’s also, I suspect, the expectation that vacations will be perfect interludes where nothing bad ever happens. Ironically, it’s also the time when we’re most likely to venture way outside our comfort zones and engage in activities we’d probably never do at home.

According to Britain’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), 10 Brits have been hospitalized abroad every day this year. Last year, the figure was 70 a week.

And so far this year, there have been 13 cases of young Brits falling from balconies while on vacation.  Unfortunately, 3 lost their lives while others ended up with very serious injuries.

Because of this, the FCO along with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA – The Travel Association) are now campaigning jointly to help prevent further incidents.

But it has to go further than that. Of 2,000 people surveyed by the Foreign Office, 48% revealed that they did not realize that they would be responsible for their medical expenses if they became ill abroad.

The situation isn’t better in America where the United States Travel Insurance Association (UStiA) found that since the summer of 2010, one in eight adults have had their travel plans changed because of natural disasters. Of that number, only 29% had travel insurance.

To further underscore the importance of having travel insurance, it is one of the requirements for obtaining a Schengen visa.

So how much coverage should you get? Whenever I buy travel insurance, I make sure to have medical coverage, including provision for evacuation in the event of an emergency; trip cancelation and interruption; lost, stolen, delayed, or damaged baggage or personal effects; missed connections and flight delays. I’ve also bought coverage in case my hotel or airline becomes insolvent while I’m on my trip.

Thankfully, I’ve never had to file a claim but knowing that I was protected was worth the additional expense.

So whether we’re making plans for that Caribbean vacation, the trip around the world or to take the kids to see their grandparents, we should always include travel insurance to the budget. Can you afford not to?


Campari Takes Over Appleton Jamaica Rums

Gruppo Campari, the maker of aperitif, announced this week that it had bought controlling interest in Lascelles deMercado, maker of Appleton Jamaica Rums, from CL Financial Ltd.

Campari takes over CL Financial’s 81.4% share and will buy the remaining shares by year end. The total deal is worth $414.8 million and is expected to lead to a profit from next year.

Appleton Rums

Appleton Rums

This is Campari’s third biggest acquisition. In 2009, it bought Wild Turkey from Pernod Richard SA, and Skyy Spirits in 2001.

Lascelles deMercado has the largest stock of aged rums in the world – Appleton Jamaica Rum, which is distributed by J. Wray & Nephew, a subsidiary company. DeMercado was formed in 1825.

It’ll be interesting to see what impact, if any, the sale will have on the local market. Other distillers, like Worthy Park Estate and Hampden Estate, producers of bulk rum for the European market, have expanded into the lucrative white rum market with Rum Bar Rum and Rum Fire White Overproof respectively. Hampden’s Rum Fire, which was launched in March last year was awarded its first gold medal at this year’s International Wine & Spirits Competition.


Jamaica Readies Port Royal for UNESCO World Heritage Status

Earlier this year, the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) announced that it was submitting Port Royal, a historic port, for inclusion on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Port Royal has been on the World Heritage Site’s tentative list since 2009.

Located on a spit of land just beyond the Norman Manley International Airport near Kingston, Port Royal was settled originally by the Tainos, Jamaica’s original inhabitants, who used it as a fishing village.

By 1518, Port Royal was a Spanish settlement, then it was taken over by the British when they captured the island in 1655. Jamaica, a British colony, was surrounded by Spanish settlements in Cuba, Hispaniola, Mexico, Panama.

In order to protect its colony, the governor of Jamaica invited privateers to the island. They were given Letters of Marque by the governor, essentially license to attack and capture any vessel or settlement belonging to Spain — and split the plunder with the Crown.

Because of its location and the size of its harbor, Port Royal was an ideal spot from which the privateers could operate. Soon, it was overrun by about 1,500 privateers. There were men like Henry Morgan and Blackbeard, who were well known, and those who had come to the island to make their fortune – Jamaica was the place to be for those who wanted to get rich.

There were probably as many prostitutes as privateers to greet the men when they returned home to port, and, in time, Port Royal gained the reputation as being the “richest and wickedest city on Earth.”

It was from Port Royal that Morgan launched some of his most daring raids, including Cuba and Panama. Later, he received knighthood and became a lieutenant governor of Jamaica.

On June 7, 1692, an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Port Royal, causing part of the city to sink beneath the sea, taking treasures — much of it is still buried in the sand — and about 2,000 lives. Some believed that the city was being punished for its evil ways.

When privateering was outlawed, it became the place where those who were caught, like Calico Jack Rackman, were hanged. Eventually, the colony found another way to make money – sugar. Port Royal suffered more setbacks, including fires, hurricane, and another earthquake in 1907. It never recovered its former glory.

National Geographic has created a documentary on Port Royal, Wicked Pirate City. You can see it here.

So what exactly is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and how does a place get this designation?

According to UNESCO’s website, to be named a World Heritage Site, a location, whether it’s “a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex or city” must be recognized by them to be “of special cultural or physical significance.”

Before a site can be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it must first be proposed to the World Heritage Committee by the member country or state in which it is located. If it is determined that the property nominated meets at least one of the necessary requirements, it is inscribed on the World Heritage List.

There are now 936 sites located in 150 countries, with 25-30 added annually.

UNESCO Heritage Sites in the Caribbean


  • Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison


  • Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications


  • Old Havana and its Fortifications
  • Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios
  • San Pedro de la Roca Castle, Santiago de Cuba
  • Viñales Valley
  • Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the South-East of Cuba
  • Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos
  • Historic Centre of Camagüey


  • Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour

Dominican Republic

  • Colonial City of Santo Domingo


  • National History Park – Citadel, Sans Souci, Ramiers

Puerto Rico

  • La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site

Saint Kitts and Nevis

  • Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park

There is no doubt that Port Royal is of historical significance — it created wealth for many, including the Crown. If accepted, it will be Jamaica’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. The plan is to revive the old city and make it a tourist attraction.

Olympics: Never Mind the Jeux Sans Frontières, It’s All about the Money, Stupid

If you can’t beat ‘em, confound them! That seemed to be Danny Boyle’s mantra as he unleashed his fantastically whimsical, crazy-mad, nostalgic bells-and-whistles-of-a-British-history-lesson to an astonished world at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London.

Remember Beijing? So pristine, dignified, awesome and, well, staid? There was no way that ‘Great’ Britain could even come close to matching the jaw-dropping spectacle, precision, and spending power of the Chinese, so why even try?

That seemed to be Boyle’s attitude as he elected to celebrate Britain in its glorious idiosyncratic miscellany. Hence, the spectacle of a ‘parachuting’ reigning monarch, appearances by real, fictional and hackneyed ‘celebs’, a hodgepodge of musical genres and the biggest faux self-mocking cum self-aggrandising, barnstorming circus in town.

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