WILLEMSTAD, Curacao — Cuisine, culture and heritage are the focal points of Anguilla's tourism industry and serve as the catalysts to boost the island's economy, create jobs and improve infrastructure, according to Cardigan Connor, Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for tourism, sports, culture and youth.

In a media briefing at the Caribbean Tourism Organization's State of the Industry Conference this week in Curacao, Connor outlined steps to achieve those goals.

"We're launching a new website that will serve as the main communication portal for travelers, agents and locals. It will feature a collection of tools to learn and discover the island and eventually drive bookings to Anguilla," Connor said.

Website features will include an interactive map; a trip-planning tool to allow users to bookmark accommodations, activities and events into a customized itinerary; and an events calendar to share with friends and family via social media. The new site will be launched in January at which time visitors will be redirected to it when they visit the current site at www.ivisitanguilla.com.

Cuisine and heritage traditions, such as Anguilla's boat racing season, which runs from Easter through summer, will receive emphasis and added promotional support, according to Connor.

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Cardigan Connor Photo Credit: Gay Nagle Myers

New services for visitors include the addition of a late-night shuttle service this winter from the ferry terminal on St. Maarten to Blowing Point ferry terminal in Anguilla.

The ferry will depart at 11:30 p.m., arriving in Anguilla at midnight. "This will allow guests arriving from Los Angeles on American Airlines' flight at 10:35 p.m. to transfer to Anguilla that same night, instead of having to overnight in St. Maarten," Connor said.

Upcoming resort openings include the Zemi Beach House Resort & Spa, a boutique resort property slated to open in January as the first luxury resort on the east end of the island.

Amenities include two restaurants, the Zemi Thai House Spa, two pools, a kids' club, watersports, tennis courts and a gym.

The Rum Room Bar and Library will specialize in small-batch estate rum and will offer late-night cocktail service, private dinners and tastings.
 
This new 80-room beachfront Reef by Cuisinart resort, slated to open in November 2016, will target leisure travelers as well as the groups and incentives market.

Kishti Villa Collection on Meads Bay opened on June 1. Kishti at Black Garden has four to five bedrooms depending upon how the rooms are configured, and Kishti at Meads has one six-bedroom villa and one of five bedrooms. Each of the fully staffed villas has two kitchens, a gym, home theater, heated infinity pool and complimentary beach and poolside service.

In the events arena, members of the Royal British Society of Sculptors will pack their chisels and hammers and head to the Anguilla Sculpture Symposium Nov. 9 through 27, the first event of its kind in the Caribbean.

The Amerindian Interpretive Center and Visitor Trail at the Fountain Cavern will open in mid-December for the winter season. The site features replicated artifacts from the caves, along with a video presentation depicting the site below ground.

Other events include the Festival Del Mar in Island Harbor over Easter Weekend March 27; the Moonsplash music festival, hosted by Anguilla's legendary Bankie Banx, April 21 to 24, and on May 16 the Welches Folk and Village Festival, a celebration of authentic Anguillian cooking methods and traditional games and dances, will take place.

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