Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: June 16, 2005

CONCERNED THAT the new regulations requiring passports of U.S. citizens re-entering the country from the Caribbean could negatively impact regional travel, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the Caribbean Hotel Association and the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association are lobbying for a postponement of the Jan. 1 start date. The Caribbean would like the same introductory rate as Mexico and Canada of Jan. 1, 2008, said Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, CTOs secretary general. Meanwhile, the Caribbean Hotel Association released the findings of a study conducted by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) that concluded that in the Caribbean, as much as $2.6 billion of visitor export earnings and more than 188,000 travel and tourism jobs could be at risk. "CHA can appreciate the U.S.s concern for its security, but it must not lose sight of the regulations impact on Caribbean travel and tourism, which will significantly reduce last-minute travel, said CHA president Berthia Parle.

LODGEPODGE

" A sign of Grenadas continuing recovery from last falls Hurricane Ivan is the reopening July 5 of the 32-cottage Blue Horizons Garden Resort, following a $1.5 million refurbishment. According to Arnold Hopkin, owner/manager, the project is 85% complete, and were right on schedule. More than 60% of the islands rooms are back on line; the 212-room Grenadian by Rex Resorts will reopen at the end of July. For details, visit www.grenadagrenadines.com.

"The 27-suite Ku, Anguillas newest hotel, will open Oct. 15 on Shoal Bay East beach on the northeast coast. Ku, which means sacred place in the Arawak Indian language, is near Fountain Cave, an Indian ceremonial site. Housed in five white buildings, the 775-square-foot suites have ocean views, full kitchens, dining and living rooms, bed and bath. A restaurant, pool, small spa, gym, dive center and a 75-foot-long beachfront bar are on site. Opening rates start at $135, double. For details, call (800) 869-5827.

CLUB MEDS new agent booking engine  [www.clubmedta.com] permits access to live inventory, promotional pricing and air-inclusive packages 24/7. Agents can book contracted, charter and published fares, and extras such as scuba, golf and kids club packages. The tool also allows agents to hold inventory for up to 48 hours, depending on departure date and air service, without having to guarantee the reservation with a credit card. A full redesign of Club Meds travel agent Web site will debut later this summer. Club Med Buccaneers Creek in Martinique, undergoing a $50 million upgrade, will reopen Dec. 17, and the books are now open for reservations. The newly redone resort will accept children, although no Mini Club or childrens programs will be offered.

NEW FACES among the ranks of Caribbean tourism ministries include: Anguilla Victor Franklin Banks, minister of tourism (as well as finance, economic development and investment); Aruba Marcial Charly Ibarra, former director of the Aruba Tourist Association, who retired last fall, has rejoined the industry as director of business development for the Aruba Hotel & Tourist Association, based in Arubas U.S. headquarters in Weehawken, N.J.; Bahamas Vernice Walkine, deputy general of the Ministry of Tourism, replacing Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, new CTO secretary general; Bonaire Ronella Croes, director of tourism; Belize Godfrey P. Smith, minister of foreign affairs and tourism; Cayman Islands Charles Clifford, minister of tourism, environment, development and commerce; Curacao Aimee L. Kleinmoedig, marketing director of the Curacao Tourist Board, based in Miami, and Clifton Walle, deputy executive director, based in Curacao; Montserrat Ishwar Persad, marketing manager, Montserrat Tourist Board.

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