MARINE AND ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERTS at the 10th annual Sustainable Tourism Conference in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, sounded warnings about the status of the Caribbean region's coral reefs, saying that almost two-thirds of the reefs were under threat. In addition, coastal development threatens one-third of the reefs, pollution has damaged close to 35% of the reefs and that over-fishing has threatened more than 60%. Rick MacPherson, director of conservation programs with the Coral Reel Alliance, said that the dive tourism industry in the Caribbean stands to lose between $100 million and $300 million if the dive experience is diminished due to the destruction of coral reefs and loss of marine life. Murray Simpson, senior research associate at Oxford University's Centre for the Environment, said that unless steps are taken to reverse climate change, the Caribbean can expect severe weather conditions that will place its tourism sector at risk.
THE SLOWDOWN IN THE U.S. MARKET, coupled with skyrocketing air fare prices and the sagging dollar, has propelled Jamaica's quest for new sources of revenue and visitors. At the recent Jamaica Product Exchange in Kingston, tourism minister Edmund Bartlett said that the destination's tourism growth hinges upon the traditional markets, including the U.S.; the growth markets in Europe; and the emerging markets in China, Japan and Russia. Government initiatives to trigger new tourism sources include recent approval to allow casino gambling, a renewed focus on the development of tourism centered around Port Antonio on Jamaica's east end and the promotion of new attractions that focus on culture and folklore.
• Nikki Beach, the international hotel and restaurant firm, has entered into partnership with Peter de Savary, chairman and founder of the Port Louis $500 million maritime village development in Grenada, to build a high-end resort with up to 180 rooms and suites within the Port Louis complex. Nikki Beach recently opened a luxury boutique property on Providenciales. Port Louis currently includes a mega-yacht marina and is in partnership with London-based Park Town Capital to develop up to 90 luxury villas and apartments. Other components of Port Louis, near the capital of St. George's, will include a golf course, several more hotels, and duty-free shops.
• Hilton Hotels Corp. will terminate its lease agreement with the Hilton Tobago Golf & Spa Resort in Tobago on May 16. The hotel will remain open and operational under Hilton's management until May 15; a new hotel operator, not yet named, will take over management of the property the following day. Hilton's Caribbean portfolio currently includes properties in the Bahamas, Barbados, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Trinidad.
• Spirit Airlines will launch daily service June 12 between Fort Lauderdale and Port of Spain, Trinidad, marking Spirit's 22nd Caribbean/Latin American destination.
• American will launch nonstop service from Miami to Grenada on Nov. 20. The flight will operate daily during the winter season through mid-April and drop to five days a week for the rest of the year. The carrier's regional subsidiary, American Eagle, has a daily flight year-round to Grenada from San Juan.
Caribbean Editor: Gay Nagle Myers
Phone: (201) 902-1924
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