Travel Weeklys Caribbean E-letter: March 10, 2005

JAMAICAS 2004 tourist arrivals totaled 1.4 million, a jump of 4.8% over 2003 and 11.7% over 2002, according to final year-end tallies released by the Jamaica Tourist Board. The increases took place despite the negative effects of hurricane Ivan last September, which temporarily paralyzed tourism numbers for a short time, officials said. US arrivals increased 3% to 996,131 visitors; Canada and Europe were in second and third places with increases of 10.9% and 10.7%, respectively. Paul Pennicook, director of tourism, predicted strong tourism numbers this year, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Jamaica Tourist Board. The JTB has planned a number of special events to celebrate its 50 years. Details can be found at www.visitjamaica.com.

THE PALMS, the $85 million, five-star boutique resort opened on Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, with 72 suites, a 15,000-square-foot spa, a tai chi studio overlooking a water garden and a multi-million-dollar infinity edge pool. Targeted at the well-heeled traveler, the 1,888-square-foot suites have vaulted ceilings, marble floors, flatscreen TVs, Roman baths and rates to match. Daily rates with continental breakfast range from $750 for a luxury room to $7,000 for a three-bedroom penthouse suite with butler and chauffeur service. For details, call (866) 877-PALM.

DIVI SOUTHWINDS Beach Resort in Barbados will launch an all-inclusive plan April 17 that includes accommodations, three meals, drinks, use of snorkeling gear and boogie boards, weekly entertainment and taxes and service charges. Rates through Dec. 21 start at $150 per adult, per day, double in a one-bedroom gardenview suite and from $172 in a one-bedroom deluxe oceanview suite. The 130-suite property will continue to offer EP and MAP plans as well. Barbados currently has 13 resorts that offer all-inclusive plans. For Divi details, visit www.diviresorts.com.

TAKEOFFS
" US Airways new nonstop daily flight between Fort Lauderdale and Kingston marks the carriers fourth route to Jamaica. Other U.S. gateways include Boston; Charlotte, N.C., and Philadelphia to Montego Bay.
" Delta launched nonstop, twice-weekly service from Atlanta to St. Croix on March 5. The 148-passenger, year-round flights depart Wednesdays and Saturdays. Delta Vacations packages in conjunction with the new route include free hotel nights, food and beverage credits and other value-added options.

PENCIL IT IN
" Cayman Carnival, May 5 to 8, Grand Cayman. For details, visit www.caymanislands.ky.
" Tour Operator Symposium, May 12 to 15, St. Kitts. Open to all qualified tour operators on a first-come, first-served basis. Reserve by April 30; contact Ardis Bell at the St. Kitts Tourism Authority at [email protected] or fax (869) 465-8794.

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