Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: September 8, 2005

THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY reacted quickly to set up fundraising initiatives for disaster relief and recovery for Hurricane Katrina victims in the Gulf Coast, including several Caribbean-based industry and tourism associations. Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), said that perhaps more than other people in the world, the members of the CTO, along with all the people of the Caribbean, can empathize with the victims of Hurricane Katrina and understand fully the sense of devastation and loss that they must feel at this time. Vanderpool-Wallace urged CTO members to assist in relief and restoration efforts in any way that they can. Many members of the Caribbean community in the U.S. responded with offers of housing; the Cayman Islands Dept. of Tourism plans to hold a fundraiser, and several local businesses staged a silent auction Sept. 5 with the proceeds going to the American Red Cross. The U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association spearheaded a fundraising drive with a large donation that was matched by the West Indian Co. Ltd., Ritz-Carlton and the Holiday Inn in St. Thomas. Tourism employees also were asked to contribute at least $2 each, which would raise an additional $20,000, according to Beverly Nicholson, association president. All donations will be presented to the USVI chapter of the American Red Cross. The Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association will donate the proceeds from an island-wide garage sale organized by the hotels and members of the tourism community; and Sandals & Beaches Resorts also is donating to the American Red Cross on behalf of Katrina victims. For a complete list of organizations involved in the relief and recovery efforts, visit Travel Weekly and Travel Guard Internationals joint clearinghouse Web site for relief efforts, www.travelcompaniescare.org.

AS EXPECTED, the State Dept. and the Dept. of Homeland Security proposed to extend by a year, to Dec. 31, 2006, the start date for a rule requiring a valid passport for re-entry to the U.S. for Americans returning by air and sea to or from the Caribbean and Bermuda, Central and South America, Mexico and Canada.  Likewise, the start date for the same policy for those crossing U.S. land borders was pushed back to Dec. 31, 2007. The deadline for comment on the proposed rules is Oct. 31. To comment, visit www.epa.gov/feddocket and include Regulatory Information Number 1651-AA66 or www.regulations.gov and include RIN1400-AC10.

THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Fall into Americas Caribbean program offers a $200 air fare credit on bookings made by Nov. 15 for travel through Dec. 14. Travel through Oct. 31 includes the fifth night free and a complimentary room upgrade or continental breakfast. Agents also will earn a $25 booking bonus from the hotels. All participants receive a coupon booklet for discounts and savings valued at $500. Participating properties include Carambola Beach Resort, Chenay Bay Beach Resort, Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino and Hotel Caravelle on St. Croix; the Westin Resort & Villas on St. John; and Marriotts Frenchmans Reef & Morning Star Beach Resort, Holiday Inn Windward Passage, Secret Harbour Beach Resort and Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa on St. Thomas. Participating wholesalers include American Airlines Vacations, Changes in LAttitudes, Delta Vacations, Future Vacations, Happy Vacations, Inter-Island Tours, Island Resort Tours, Gogo Worldwide Vacations, National Leisure Group, TNT Vacations, Travel Impressions, and US Airways Vacations.

LODGEPODGE

" The Inn at Roberts Grove in Placencia, Belize, is one of the first resorts in Belize to offer in-room high-speed Internet access, priced at $16 per hour. The 52-room resort also offers an Internet room for guests who do not bring their laptops with them; the hourly rate is $20. Other amenities at the property include several new grand villa suits, each with an infinity pool and swim-up bar; three pools; a Padi dive center; a spa; two restaurants; and two private islands for secluded getaways. Winter rates, valid Dec. 1 through May 31, start at $189 per night, double, in a first floor beachview room, including airport transfers. For details, visit the updated Web site at www.robertsgrove.com.

" Villa Paradiso, an Abercrombie & Kent Destinations Resort property on Nevis, offers a 50% discount on stays through October. Three-bedroom villas, regularly priced at $800 per night, drop to $395 per night; four-bedroom units, regularly priced at $928 per night, are $459 per night. For details, visit www.villaparadisonevis.com.

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