Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: Oct. 24, 2006

PHILLIP PIERRE, minister of commerce, tourism, investment and consumer affairs for St. Lucia, was named the new chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization for a term of two years. Pierre succeeds Pamela Richards, former CTO chairman and current commissioner of tourism for the U.S. Virgin Islands. Pierre's appointment was announced at the opening ceremony of the 29th annual Caribbean Tourism Conference taking place at the Westin and Sheraton Grand Bahama Island Our Lucaya Resorts on Oct. 22 by outgoing chairman Richards. In his keynote address at the opening ceremony, Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie exhorted CTO delegates to "come together and speak with one voice" to resolve the passport initiative set to take effect Jan. 8 whereby all those entering or returning to the U.S. by air will be required to present a valid passport. "We must persuade the Dept. of Homeland Security to extend the deadline for passports to June 2009, the same date as for cruise passengers. We must persuade the U.S. to delay implementation for air travel until that date to level the playing field," Christie said. He admitted that although "it is late in the game, we must make contingency plans. It is not too late to encourage more U.S. citizens to get passports now and to lobby for the U.S. to waive expediting fees so that U.S. citizens can obtain passports in days rather than weeks."

THE JAMAICA TOURIST BOARD, along with the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association, launched a Passport to Rewards program aimed at the estimated 80% of U.S. citizens who do not have a passport. According to JTB figures, the U.S. market accounted for 786,000 visitors between January and July this year, or about 70% of the island's total visitors. The initiatives are designed to encourage travelers to apply for their passports as soon as possible. Starting Nov. 15 and running through mid-March, free Blue Mountain coffee and passport information will be handed out and passport applications taken at commuter rail terminals in Chicago, New York and Washington. Also, visitors who travel to Jamaica after Jan. 8 and have Jamaica stamped first in their passports will receive special credits that equal the amount spent on the passport application. The incentives include spa treatments, room upgrades, greens fees, and more. The credit applies to all visitors who show proof of the cost of a new passport. For a list of participating hotels, visit


" Air Jamaica said it will stop paying base commissions on air-only bookings as of Jan. 1. The airline currently pays 5%. The airline said it will continue to pay commissions on vacation packages booked through Air Jamaica Vacations or any other Air Jamaica-approved tour operator partner.

" Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Airlines unveiled its new colors and logo as it readies to replace 66-year-old BWIA on Jan. 1. The carrier's logo features a green-and-blue hummingbird in flight. "Early references to Trinidad refer to it as the land of the hummingbird, making the symbol highly appropriate as an emblem for Caribbean Airlines," said Peter Davies, CEO of BWIA. For details, visit


" To mark Viva Wyndham's 10th anniversary, its eight all-inclusive properties in the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Mexico are offering year-long promotions that target groups, families and the dive and weddings markets. Tour leaders with groups of 10 or more receive a room upgrade; guests in the group get 10% off at the gift shop, business center and on excursions, spa services and dive activities. Families celebrating a child's 10th birthday receive a 10% discount on the resort stay, and kids who are 10 years old when visiting a resort stay free of charge. Couples celebrating a 10th anniversary receive a free honeymoon package; guests who get dive certified from January through November 2007 receive a 10% discount on the certification fee, and couples who tie the knot from January through November 2007 receive a 10% discount on wedding packages. For details, visit

" New for the 2006-2007 winter season at Antigua's Curtain Bluff resort, which reopened Oct. 14 after its normal summer closure, are its spa on a bluff and air-conditioning in its 72 guest rooms. The two-level, 4,500-square-foot spa facility officially opens in January and will feature five treatment rooms, including one just for couples. Additional features include waterfalls and open-air walkways, a relaxation room, an outdoor hot tub and a signature caviar and champagne massage. For details, visit

Caribbean Editor:

Gay Nagle Myers

Phone: (201) 902-1591

[email protected]

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


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