Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: Nov. 6, 2007

NOEL, the Atlantic hurricane season's 14th named storm, churned through the Caribbean for five days before becoming a Category 1 hurricane on Nov. 1 as it departed the Bahamas on a track that took it well off the Florida coast. It proved to be a devastating tropical storm in parts of Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba earlier in the week, triggering mudslides, landslides, drownings and evacuations and a death toll of 118, according to government officials. Although the government of the Dominican Republic responded with more than $200 million in emergency aid, the DR Ministry of Tourism reported that no major tourist centers or hotels were damaged. Likewise, the Bahamas reported no major damage in Nassau, Grand Bahama Island and the Out Islands, despite a record 15 inches of rain in parts of the island chain; the highest winds and tides were reported on Abaco. The major airports in the Bahamas reopened within a day, and cruise calls were not disrupted.

THE NEED for a single air space and a common civil aviation regime culminated in the creation of the San Juan Accord, according to Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization. The San Juan Accord, so named because it came out of the recent Caribbean Tourism Conference in San Juan, envisions "a single Caribbean air space with many more efficient hubs to enable travelers to move around the region with ease on a two- or three-island vacation in a single trip," according to the secretary general. The CTO also officially launched its new Web site at www.caribbeantravel.com. The site contains a consumer booking engine as well as links pointing consumers to Caribbean Travel Specialists, or agents specializing in Caribbean travel.

CARIBBEAN STAR, the regional private-sector-owned air carrier based in Antigua, will cease operations Nov. 15 following its recent acquisition by regional carrier Liat. The deal, which had been in the works for months, calls for Liat to operate the combined carriers' fleet of 17 Dash-8 aircraft, becoming the region's largest intra-Caribbean carrier. Liat's major shareholders are the three governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Jean Holder, chairman of Liat (and former secretary general of CTO), described the agreement as "one of the most significant business deals in the history of the Caribbean." Skip Barnette, president and CEO of Caribbean Star and once-sister carrier Caribbean Sun, said that "customers should experience no interruption as a result of the transfer of aircraft and the closure of Caribbean Star. The flight schedule will continue as published, and Liat will operate the flights formerly flown by Caribbean Star equipment and crews." For details on routes and schedules, visit www.liat.com.

 

PENCIL IT IN

" [email protected], a satellite branch of the Museo de Arte de Ponce opens Nov. 15 at San Juan's Plaza Las Americas shopping mall. The opening will feature an inaugural exhibit of 74 works by Auguste Rodin entitled "The Age of Rodin: Sculpture in France from Romanticism to Modernism". For exhibit schedules, visit www.museoarteponce.org.

" Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, Jan. 24 to 26, Rose Hall Resort & Country Club, Montego Bay, Jamaica. Headliners include Diana Ross, Anita Baker, Billy Ocean, Hugh Masekela, Beres Hammond, Marjorie Whylie, Ryan Shaw and Yerba Buena. Festival packages will be available in various price ranges. For festival details, visit www.airjamaicajazzandblues.com.

OOPS! An incorrect Web site address was listed in the Oct. 23 Caribbean E-letter for the new Verandah Resort & Spa in Antigua. The correct address is www.verandahresortandspa.com.

Caribbean Editor: Gay Nagle Myers

Phone: (201) 902-1924

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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