Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: Aug. 29, 2006

THE CARIBBEAN TOURISM Organization is fighting to postpone until 2008 or mid-2009 a regulation requiring U.S. travelers to have a passport to re-enter the country, but it is telling its members to prepare for the worst, according to Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, secretary general. The passport requirement is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 8, 2007. The CTO will take "full advantage" of the Sept. 24 deadline set by the government for public comments on the initiative. "The pickup of new passports has been nowhere near the numbers that we would like to see. There has to be an extensive campaign to let a lot more people know about this new requirement," Vanderpool-Wallace said. Nevertheless, the CTO is urging members to prepare for implementation of the initiative in January. The issue promises to be a hot one at the upcoming Caribbean Tourism Conference in Grand Bahama Oct. 22 to 25.

THE CARIBBEAN Hotel Association launched its new logo and corporate identity, after 46 years without making any substantial images changes or identity updates. The new logo resembles a star fish in design, and the tropical colors represent the diversity of cultures and languages of the region, according to Alec Sanguinetti, director general and CEO. "An organization's logo is its face to the world. It was time for a significant makeover to better reflect today's Caribbean hotel and tourism sector," Sanguinetti said. Along with the CHA's new logo comes a new online presence, at www.caribbeanhotelassociation.com. The site will contain members-only sections and links to Caribbean national hotel associations and partner organizations plus information about CHA presented in a user-friendly manner. All components of the CHA's new brand identity, including the debut of the "CHA Weekly News" bulletin, will display the "Caribbean" logo launched last October as part of the new joint CHA/Caribbean Tourism Organization marketing program.

THE JAMAICA TOURIST BOARD named Basil Smith director of tourism, after an intensive search following the resignation in May of Paul Pennicook from the director's post. Smith, whose term of office officially begins Nov. 1, is a Jamaican national currently serving as senior director, communications, worldwide for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Formerly, he served as executive vice president of the Bahamas Hotel Association, director of a Jamaica public relations agency and Jamaica's deputy director of tourism. Donnie Dawson, currently serving as interim director of tourism, will continue in that role until Smith assumes this fall.

LODGEPODGE

" The Divi Group, which operates 11 Divi Resorts on six Caribbean islands, including two all-inclusive properties on Aruba, will build the first all-inclusive resort on Bonaire. Construction is slated to begin next spring with completion set for the end of 2008. The hotel firm already has the 129-room Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino on Bonaire. For details, visit www.diviresorts.com.

" Jamaica-based Couples Resorts will add a fifth all-inclusive resort in the parish of Trelawny on the island's north coast, halfway between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. The $370 million resort, which represents an investment of $57 million, will be built on 38 acres of land owned by Lee Issa, Couples Resorts' chairman. Construction is slated for completion in 2008. Couples currently has two resorts each in Negril and Ocho Rios. For details, visit www.couples.com.

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