DOMINICA WILL NO LONGER VOTE with Japan in favor of commercial whaling, according to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt, who said that the decision to abstain from the vote at the upcoming International Whaling Conference in Santiago, Chile, is in "the best interests of Dominica." The destination has voted with Japan for the last eight years to overturn the ban on commercial whaling. Ian Douglas, minister for tourism, legal affairs and civil aviation, said that at the time of the original decision, "Dominica was almost entirely dependent upon agriculture with tourism still undeveloped. Now, tourism has significantly increased to represent a significantly larger portion of the economy." Dominica's positioning as the "Nature Island" was developed around a nature base that relies heavily on niche market tourists who seek out environmentally friendly destinations, according to Douglas. "The decision was made to change our stance at the IWC as part of our ongoing review of our national interest in the conservation of natural resources and the sustainability of our tourism product," Douglas said.
• Wyndham Hotels and Resorts will open the 497-room luxury Green Village at Cap Cana near Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic in the fourth quarter of 2008. The resort will feature bungalows, villas and private residences as well as an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course, meetings space, a convention facility, a spa and fitness center, two restaurants, a combo cafe/food mart, two pools, tennis and diving.
• The Lodge Kura Hulanda & Beach Club in Curacao opened its two-bedroom, two-bath, thatched-roof "Tree House Mansion," built on wooden stilts and surrounded by foliage atop a cliff. The 1,312-square-foot unit is decorated with African artifacts and antiques that Kura Hulanda owner Jacob Gelt Dekker brought back from his travels over the years. A wooden spiral staircase leads up to the tree house and into the open-air living room, which features an ornate Bali bridal bed and wide terrace. Each bedroom is air-conditioned and offers a four-poster king bed, flat screen TV and bath with tub and shower. The Tree House Mansion, which can accommodate up to four guests, has Wi-Fi, a full kitchen and rates from $1,000 a night through Dec. 23.
• The 488-room Rose Hall Resort & Country Club, on the grounds of an 18th-century plantation in Montego Bay, Jamaica, completed a $40 million redo of guest rooms, meetings space and restaurants. The refurbished resort also now features the Soothe Spa, which offers a selection of classic, European and Jamaican treatments. In-room amenities include pillowtop mattresses, a balcony, flat screen TVs and Wi-Fi.
ALTHOUGH SOME AIRLINES to the Caribbean are cutting back flights, others are doing just the opposite. Spirit Airlines launched daily service linking Fort Lauderdale and Port of Spain, Trinidad; Delta inaugurated service on Thursdays and Sundays from New York Kennedy to Antigua (the carrier already serves Antigua from its hub in Atlanta); Caribbean Airlines ramped up its Fort Lauderdale-Trinidad service to daily from four times a week; and Continental will add a fourth daily nonstop from its Newark hub to San Juan in September (the flight will run through December, but the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. is in negotiations with the carrier to ensure that the increase becomes permanent). Meanwhile, Continental Connection expanded its air service to Bimini in the Bahamas with a second daily flight from Fort Lauderdale; in October, Cape Air's daily roundtrips between St. Thomas and San Juan will jump to 12 from seven and its service between St. Croix and San Juan will increase from four to eight daily roundtrips. Also, JetBlue increased its flights from New York Kennedy, Orlando and Boston to San Juan to take effect in September. The carrier also is pumping up its schedule to the Dominican Republic this fall with extra flights to both Santo Domingo and Santiago from New York Kennedy.
AMERICAN AIRLINES' new checked baggage fee does not apply to duty-free liquor purchases in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty. The new fees that took effect June 15 call for a $15 charge for the first checked bag and $25 for the second. "It is a great relief and a show of good faith that American granted this special waiver," Nicholson-Doty said. Visitors to the USVI can bring home up to $1,600 worth of duty-free items, double that of other Caribbean destinations.
TRAVELWEEKLY.COM launched an online channel focused on the Caribbean, in order to provide readers with expanded news and information about Caribbean destinations and regional tourism issues. Like other channels at TravelWeekly.com, the Caribbean area can be accessed from the main Web site navigation bar and from the channels slideshow on the site's home page. The Caribbean channel will feature frequent news stories and other information focused on the region, including an interactive map, destination information, e-learning tools, travel deals and slideshows, as well as access to Hotel & Travel Index.
Caribbean Editor: Gay Nagle Myers
Phone: (201) 902-1924
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