Travel Weeklys Caribbean E-letter: Oct. 21, 2004

BOLSTERED BY STRONG ARRIVALS FIGURES through September throughout most of the region, a new synergy and spirit of cooperation between destinations and cruise lines and the presence of low-cost carriers [Spirit, JetBlue, Song and ATA] giving established lines like American a run for their money, tourism officials anticipate a record winter season, signaling a complete comeback from the decline set off by the events of 9/11 three years ago. Tourism ministers, officials, keynote speakers and panelists attending the Caribbean Tourism Organizations 27th annual conference in Aruba were optimistic in their forecasts while not forgetting the dire situation on hurricane-damaged islands, especially Grenada and Grand Cayman. In fact, relief measures for the impacted islands gained momentum during the conference, with more organizations stepping up to the plate to render assistance.

 

IN OTHER CTO NEWS:
" The Puerto Rico Tourism Co. named Milton Segarra interim executive director, replacing Jose Suarez, who resigned to pursue other interests. Currently head of the Puerto Rico Convention Authority, he held the PRTC post several years ago. Because Puerto Ricos upcoming elections will shift many positions, a permanent PRTC executive director will be named later this year. According to Segarra, Puerto Rico gained seven new carriers for the winter, an increase of 24% in seat capacity from the U.S.
" David Fernandez, U.S. director of tourism for Antigua and Barbuda, will retire this month after 34 years of service. Fernandez, who is one of the longest serving tourism directors in the Caribbean, joined the government of Antigua and Barbuda in 1971 as a sales rep. and was named to his present post in 1982; his duties include strategic marketing, planning, advertising and promotional activities. He has worked closely with travel agents throughout his tenure and attributed much of the destinations tourism success to the support received from travel agents. Fernandez will remain in the U.S. where he plans to open a consulting firm.
" Jamaica, with visitor arrivals up 9.5% through July and another 2% in August, felt very little post-Ivan falloff in September, according to Paul Pennicook, director of tourism. Numerous hotel projects, a new ad campaign and increased airlift bode well for the winter and beyond into 2005, he said.

HURRICANE UPDATE:
" Grenada. Water has been restored to 90% of the island; electricity and phone are partially operating; roads are open to traffic as are many banks, shops, marinas and gas stations. A curfew remains in effect for St. George and St. Andrew parishes from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Point Salines airport is open to regional and international flights between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Carriers serving Grenada include BWIA from New York and Miami via Trinidad; Air Jamaica via Montego Bay and its thrice-weekly nonstop flights from New York (JFK). The port is open; cruise calls are expected to resume late this month. Aquanauts Grenada dive shop is open at True Blue Bay resort; closed are dive shops at Spice Island, Grenada Grand Beach, Coyaba Beach, Allamanda Beach and Calabash Hotel. Dive Grenada at the Flamboyant Hotel reopens in December. Allamanda Beach Resort--has some undamaged rooms available; Bel Air Plantation -- fully operational and accepting guests; Blue Horizons -- reopening within four months; Calabash Hotel -- closed to Oct. 30; Coyaba Beach Resort -- severe damage, reopens next October; Flamboyant -- reopens Dec. 20 with 36 of 61 rooms; Grenada Grand Beach -- open; Laluna -- reopens Nov. 25; LaSource -- no damage but is closed to guests; Mariposa and Monmot hotels -- open; Rex Grenadian and Siesta Hotel -- closed; Spice Island --  lost 90% of its roofs, most of its main facilities, is closed for a year; True Blue Bay Resort -- open with several rooms, fully operational by Dec. 1. For details, visit www.grenadaemergency.com.
" Grand Cayman. Dates change frequently. Check www.caymanislands.ky for updates. The beach suites at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman reopen Dec. 1, along with Hemingways and Bamboo restaurants, the fitness center, Red Sail Sports and the retails shops in the same complex. The main resort plans to reopen June 1. The Ritz-Carlton eyes an opening date late in the first quarter; Westin Casaurena will reopen Oct. 29; Lacovia, Discovery Point Club and Grandview condominiums reopen in December; Indies Suites and Sunshine Suites have set no reopening dates at this time; Villas of the Galleon is closed for six months; the Marriott will welcome guests when the travel restrictions are lifted; Cobalt Coast will reopen when power is up and travel restrictions eased. Carnival Cruise Lines calls will resume on a limited basis in November; Royal Caribbean Cruises will assess the situation in mid-November, according to a spokesman.

DEADLINE for entries in the 40th annual Ms. Travel Agent contest, sponsored by American/Wolfe International Hotel Representatives, Sandals Resorts and Air Jamaica, has been extended to Nov. 10. The competition is set for Dec. 9 to 13 at Sandals Royal Caribbean and Offshore Island in Montego Bay, Jamaica. For entry forms, contact A/WIHR at (800) 223-5695.

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