Travel Weeklys Caribbean E-letter: Aug. 5, 2004

TOURISM NUMBERS for the U.S. Virgin Islands are up 12.6%, to 1.4 million visitors, from January through June compared with the same period a year ago. The increase totaled 163,500 more travelers, 75% of who arrived by cruise ship and the rest by air. Although St. Croixs air arrivals represent just 5% of the total visitors, those figures rose 27.3% to more than 69,000 visitors in the first six months. Officials attributed the increase to added seats on Caribbean Sun and American Eagle flights, as well as bimonthly charters from Denmark. St. Thomas cruise calls increased by 119 ship visits, which brought more than 1 million passengers in the first six months, a 16% increase over the first half of 2003.

TOUR TIDBITS:

" AIR JAMAICA VACATIONS features savings up to 30% on air and land packages to 10 Caribbean islands this fall in conjunction with Air Jamaicas fall air fare sale. Most packages must be booked by Aug. 12, are based on midweek travel and are valid through mid-February, although holiday blackouts apply. For details, call (800) 622-3009.

" US AIRWAYS VACATIONS offers 5,000 bonus Dividend Miles on air/hotel packages to Sandals and Beaches Resorts in Antigua, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Turks & Caicos. Packages must be booked by Aug. 31 for travel from Sept. 1 through Nov. 18 and Nov. 29 through Dec. 10. To book, call (800) 455-0123.

TAKEOFFS: JetBlue and Song plan to launch service to Nassau, Bahamas, this year. Both carriers announced their plans within a day of one another.

" JETBLUE applied Aug. 2 with the Transportation Department for approval for A320 service from New York [Kennedy] to Nassau. The low-fare carrier, which also needs Bahamian government approval, plans to begin service Nov. 1. The Kennedy-based carrier began its first international service in June with flights to Santiago and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. It has served San Juan since 2002 and Aguadilla, Puerto Rico sine May.

" SONG, Deltas low-fare operation, will begin Kennedy-Nassau service Dec. 1 (Delta already has authority to fly the route.)

" DELTA, meanwhile, will begin nonstop Saturday service between Atlanta and Belize Dec. 11 and will increase its service from Atlanta to Providenciales, Turks & Caicos to a year-round daily flight on Atlantic Southeast Airlines starting Sept. 15. The airline previously had offered seasonal, Saturday-only service.

ST. LUCIAS Pitons Management Area has been named a World Heritage Site by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO]. The 11-square-mile area includes the twin peaks of Gros and Petit Piton -- one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Caribbean -- as well as the town of Soufriere, nearby coral reefs, a drive-in volcano and rare animal and plant species.

SPICE ISLAND BEACH RESORT in Grenada achieved Green Globe 21 Certification in recognition of its efforts to protect and preserve the environment. The 66-room property is the first hotel on the island to be Green Globe certified. It also earned the AAA Four Diamond Award this year for overall excellence and elegance.

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