PALM BEACH, Aruba -- Caribbean tourism officials unveiled a new marketing and branding entity at the 28th annual Caribbean Hotel Association Marketplace here, a private, for-profit entity, designed to promote and protect the Caribbean brand, create new marketing synergies and create new economic opportunities.

Called the Caribbean Tourism Development Co., the new entity is jointly owned and operated by the CHA and the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Each organization has a 50% share in the company, and the board of directors is chaired by Peter Odle, CHA president, and Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, CTO secretary general, as well as the top tier of officials in each organization.

CTDC projects will be marketing focused and event-oriented, according to Odle.

"It's taken us a while to get here, but now we have one company responsible for marketing the Caribbean," said Allen Chastanet, CTO chairman and minister of tourism for St. Lucia. "The importance of tourism is finally beginning to penetrate this region, The Caribbean is one brand, and we all live and die by this brand."

To further the one-brand initiative among its travel trade partners, the CTDC will launch Caribbean Travel -- The Magazine in April to replace the Caribbean Gold Book, published twice a year by Gold Book Publishing, the publishing arm of the CHA, with information and data supplied by more than 1,100 CHA-member properties.

In its new format, the publication, which will continue to be published by Gold Book each April and October, will offer more regional and destination editorial content, updated hotel listings from 32 Caribbean destinations and an enhanced distribution to more than 24,000 IATA agencies, including 2,700 home-based agents.

Simultaneously, the new regional Web site jointly managed by the CHA and the CTO through the CTDC will come online at the agent-accessible www.caribbeantravel.com site, powered by Travelocity.

Consumers also will be able to access the site for online lodging information.

The current industry-oriented Web sites of the CHA [www.caribbeanhotels.org] and the CTO [www.onecaribbean.org] will remain in place as information sites for members of both organizations.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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