Ernie and Bert of “Sesame Street” pose in front of the Queen Mary II in the harbor of Hamburg, Germany.  (AP Photo/Fabian Bimmer, File)

The producers of "Sesame Street" want you to know that Bert and Ernie are not, in fact, gay. Sesame Workshoptweeted Tuesdaythat the characters are best friends and have many human traits but "remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation." In a follow-up tweet, it says "Sesame Street has always stood forinclusion and acceptance." The tweets came in response to an interview published Sunday by Queerty with Mark Saltzman, an openly gay former writer for "Sesame Street." He says that when he was writing scenes with Bert and Ernie, he "always felt that without a huge agenda"they were lovers. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store:

Hero The Movie 'Hero' premiered on Tuesday night at the National Academy for the Performing Arts as the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival officially opened for 2018. The movie, directed by Canadian-based filmmaker Frances Anne Solomon, is based on the story of Ulric Cross, a Trinidadian jurist and diplomat who was the most decorated Caribbean national to serve in the Royal Air Force. Cross, who died in 2013, was also a player in the Pan African movement with the likes of fellow Trinidadians George Padmore and Kwame Nkrumah. The movie stars a plethora of actors from the Caribbean, Canada and Africa such as Trinidadian Nickolai Salcedo, Joseph Marcell best known for his role as Gregory the butler on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Ghanian-British actor Eric Kofi Abrefa. Grenadian-British actor Fraser James who acted in Idris Elba's 'Yardie', Ghanian John Dumelo, one of the top-rated actors in Nollywood (Nigerian Film Industry) and Jamaican-born Peter Williams who now resides in Canada, are also in the film and were in T&T for the premiere. Loop spoke to the three men about their experience shooting 'Hero', what the film meant to them and how they see themselves impacting the development of film in the Caribbean. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store:

Shelly-Ann Weeks with gynaecologist Dr Michael Abrahams at her book launch.

Author Shelly-Ann Weeks says her second release, ‘It’s My Body. Period’, will create greater understanding around menstruation for girls, parents and society as a whole. The book is a story about a young Jamaican girl named Shelly-Ann as she experiences menstruation for the first time and how she navigates her way through puberty. In the story we meet her family – Mom, Dad and big sister Trudy and how they try to support her while dealing with their own personal issues with periods. The story also features actual information about menstruation that can act as a guide for young girls who are also going through puberty. The book has information about products, complete with instructions on how to use them; it also has tips about how girls can have healthier and less painful periods. Weeks said she can relate to some of the challenges as she had a similar experience as the main character in the book. “Most Jamaica girls experiencing menstruation period for the first time are given a pack of pads and warned not to get pregnant. You know that good intentioned threat: ‘make sure you don’t carry nuh pickney in yah’ or ‘if yuh breed ah kill yuh’,” Weeks said. “I was one of them. I started my period at 11 years old and all I got was a pack of pads and a warning not to get pregnant. The rest of it I had to figure out myself,” Weeks continued. “I did not understand why I felt so strange in my body and I definitely thought that pain was a part of being woman. I wrote this book with my 11 year old self in mind.” According to Weeks, menstruation is still considered taboo and because of that women are often treated unfairly whenever it is brought up. She said, in any office, one can call in sick and openly complain about conditions including asthma, migraine, acid reflux, erectile dysfunction and get responses of empathy and understanding. But if a colleague ever mentions the word period, comments about ‘TMI’ or inappropriateness are made, she said. Against that background, she encourages open discussions about periods. “There is no way around it; we must have open conversations about periods, especially with young people – both girls and boys,” she said. [image_gallery] Having these discussions will help us better understand the body and know how to differentiate between a healthy and unhealthy period. Traditionally we have kept men and boys away from menstruation, and this has proven inefficient. If we include males in the conversation early, they will better understand periods and women overall. They will also be more compassionate towards girls and women whenever they are experiencing difficult periods, Weeks explained. “This book is a great first step in starting a journey that will help create more understanding around menstruation. This is not only good for the young girl experiencing her period for the first time, but also her parents who will have a frame of reference wrapped up in a fun, relatable story,” said Weeks. ‘It’s My Body. Period’ is available in Kingston Bookshop, Sangsters Bookstores, Golden Closet, Online at and on Amazon. For the latest news, download our app at Android; and at IoS.

Photo by Lonely Planet courtesy Unsplash

Despite the popularity of travel and hotel booking sites, millennials are the ones turning to travel agents the most for advice on their travel experiences. Steve McGillivray, the Chief Marketing Officer of the Travel Leaders Group, said time and validation are the main reasons millennials are using travel agents. “Time is precious for them so it is efficient to use an independent third party of the advisor. They want someone to validate their choice and their searches and say is that hotel in Antigua the right hotel? Is that tour in the Bahamas the right tour? And that is the value of agents, they validate, guide and give impartial expertise to make a great vacation,” he said. McGillivray is the keynote speaker of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) to be held in the Bahamas next month. In a brief interview giving insight into his address with the CTO’s Communications Specialist, Johnson Johnrose, on Wednesday, McGillivray dispelled fears that the Internet was the death knell of the travel agent. “The web has been the best thing for travel agents, it has created so much information. Consumers are confused so someone to sort it out, sift through it, give educational validation." “What we say to the advisors is you have to up your game, become specialists, certify, become more educated. The agents have to up their game and they are. This is the best time to be a travel advisor ever,” he said. He said with the changing role of retail distributors, travel agents are now being known as advisors as they are now expected to advise and guide consumers who are coming to them more educated. He said the industry is also changing as more retailers are operating from home-based businesses. He said technology has allowed an explosion of this type of business. “There was a time you had to have a storefront to be a credible seller of travel. Not anymore. Many times the advisor never sees their customer, it is all gone electronic. The consumer, what they care about, is a trustworthy, reliable advisor. It doesn’t matter where I reside….technology has really provided new avenues for the retailer, the advisor to thrive,” he said. The CTO’s SOTIC takes place from October 2 to 5 at the Atlantis Paradise Island, The Bahamas. For more information visit Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store:

Some of the new faces at Sandals Barbados listen attentively to the presentations made by senior managers during the three day orientation.

Sandals Royal Barbados is living its mantra that to be the best you hire the best. This now that they recently hiredand placed70 Barbadians through orientation for the newest resort in the Luxury-Included chain. Sandals Royal Barbados opened in December of 2017 with 222 suites and will open another 50 rooms as part of the South Seas Village inOctober, giving the chainthe largest room count - 552 - of any single hotel in Barbados. General Manager of the resort, Ferry Zievinger, explained that these new hires will be assigned to all areas of the resort: “We are pleased once again with the quality and positive attitude of the Barbadian workforce who attended our recent job fair and particularly those who have now joined the team. “These new persons will be placed in every area of the resort from administration to operations and aim to fill the needs of our guests. We are talking bartenders, cooks, front office, watersports - you name it we have added in these departments.” The new employeeslearned about the history of the company, its operational procedures and heard from various departmental heads as to what makes Sandals unique and so globally successful during orientation. And one ofthose new employees,Anica Maynard, felt inspired by the experience: “It was warm and welcoming especially our two trainers. They had me feeling inspired regarding the hotel's way of developing the team members and the session also emphasized the way the team members should respect each other.” Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store:

It is viewed by many as the Emmys of the Travel Industry, and this week Sandals Resorts International swept the Travel Trade Gazette Awards 2018 held at the Lyceum Theatre in London’s Covent Garden. Sandals held off competition from the world’s leading travel industry bodies such as Thomas Cook, Jet2Holidays, Royal Caribbean International, Beachcomber Tours and Celebrity Cruises, and walked away with the three top prizes on offer including the coveted “Travel Company of the Year Award”. Sandals Resorts also scooped awards for ‘Hotel and Resort Operator of the Year’ and ‘On the Road Hero’, which was awarded to Business Development Manager, Neil Read for his outstanding contribution to the Sandals Resorts’ sales team. In the “Hotel and Resort Operator Award’ category Sandals beat back companies such as Elegant Hotels Group, Hard Rock Hotels – All Inclusive Collection, Palladium Hotel Group, Secrets Resorts & Spas and Warner Leisure Hotels to take the top prize. It adds to the long list of accolades which have recognised Sandals Resorts as being the very best in the tourism and hospitality industry. Not only has Sandals been voted World’s Best All Inclusive Company at the World Travel Awards for 23 consecutive years, the resort chain copped the award for ‘Best All-Inclusive Resort Operator’ in January 2018 at the Travel Weekly Globe Awards; it’s 10th win in this category. This means that the UK’s top two travel trade publications have now nominated Sandals Resorts as their number one. The TTG Travel Awards aims to celebrate success by showcasing the highest standards within the UK travel trade industry. The awards themselves are widely regarded as being some of the toughest in the business to win, while the annual TTG Awards ceremony itself is one of the most highly anticipated each year. The majority of all categories are voted for by travel agents and the travel trade, whilst The Travel Company of the Year Award is judged by a specialist panel of senior team members from the TTG Media publishing house, along with other travel industry professionals. Karl Thompson, Managing Director of Sandals Resorts, UK & Europe, said, “We are absolutely delighted to receive all three awards at this year’s TTG Travel Awards – particularly Travel Company of the Year, which is an incredible achievement for the Sandals Resorts brand and for every member of our fantastic team. We are also extremely grateful to all the agents who also took the time to vote for us in the Hotel & Resort Operator of the Year category, as we couldn’t have done it without the support of the trade.” For the latestnews, download our app at Android; and at IoS.