-- Attendees to the 29th annual Caribbean Tourism Conference took a
break from all the talk about the new passport rules to detail
strategic plans that included increased hotel inventory,
sustainability initiatives and optimistic winter season forecasts.
were revealed and branding campaigns unveiled. Here is a
" According to Aloun N'dombet Assamba,
Jamaica's minister of tourism, an islandwide beautification project
is in place in Jamaica to "welcome the increased influx of
visitors." The island saw a 17.2% increase in visitors from January
through September 2006 over the same period last year.
The airports in
Montego Bay and Kingston are undergoing an upgrade with streamlined
procedures at the airports to allow passengers with no goods to
declare to walk through customs without having to be checked or
The Norman Manley
Airport in Kingston is undergoing a three-phase, $80 million
expansion that includes a new departures terminal and four
passenger-loading bridges. The customs hall at Montego Bay Airport
is being expanded and the number of gates increased from 20 to
On the hotel
front, a certification program for hotels equipped to host disabled
guests will include ratings for properties "to help the physically
challenged identify properties catering to their specific needs,"
More than 12,000
new rooms will be added in the next four years, significantly
boosting Jamaica's current room count of 23,000 rooms.
bed-and-breakfast program will launch Dec. 1 with 500 rooms in 160
Jamaican homes. "This is in response to the growing need for
ordinary Jamaicans to get involved in tourism," Assamba
" Noel Lynch, minister of tourism for
Barbados, said that the probable merger between LIAT and Caribbean
Star will result in a more efficiently run airline. "There have
been too many seats chasing too few passengers. That will change
now." he said.
Lynch said that
year-round special events "will fill in the traditional tough
periods. As an example, Barbados will host the World Cup of Golf in
early December, a traditionally slow period for visitor
In 2009, Barbados
will open a new marina to cater to megayachts.
" Edison Briesen, tourism minister of
Aruba, said the island's new Rumba Aruba marketing campaign is
designed "to retake control after a year of challenges," a
reference to the case of Natalie Holloway, the Alabama teenager who
went missing on Aruba in May 2005.
developments are JetBlue's launch on Dec. 15 of daily nonstop
service from New York; a $26 million renovation at the Hyatt
resort, which will be completed next March; a $35 million redo of
the airport and a cruise terminal expansion.
" Several hotel projects are underway in
Trinidad, according to Jim Hepple, director of tourism and
president of the Trinidad & Tobago Tourism Development
These include the
Holiday Inn Express, opening in January; the 428-room Hyatt
Regency, opening in September; and a $40 million renovation of the
Trinidad Hilton by December 2007.
Delta will launch
nonstop service four times a week from Atlanta to Port of Spain,
Trinidad, on Dec. 9 and weekly service from Atlanta to Tobago on
" According to Henry de LaGarde, the U.S.
Virgin Islands' director of tourism and general manager, North
America, new projects include the Yacht Haven Grande and the dock
facility at Crown Bay Center (both in St. Thomas) and the
revitalization of the Frederiksted area in St. Croix.
The $150 million
Yacht Haven Grande complex, set to open next March on the site of
the old Yacht Haven Hotel (which was severely damaged by hurricanes
in 1995 and had become an eyesore), will include a yacht club,
retail space, four restaurants, condos and a marina for boats up to
450 feet in length. The $28 million Crown Bay Center opens next
month as the second cruise terminal on St. Thomas.
"Two large ships
will be able to dock at the same time, including the QM2, which
will which dock there this winter," " de LaGarde said.
" In St. Vincent and The Grenadines, the
$170 million Argyle International Airport, set to open in 2011,
"will open the destination up to jets and nonstop services from the
U.S. for the first time," said Vida Bernard, director of
" Ronella Croes, Bonaire's director of
tourism, reported that Continental will add a second nonstop flight
from Newark on Dec. 16. The carrier currently offers a nonstop from
"Growth is on our
agenda, and we will add 600 new hotel rooms in the next few years
to our inventory," she said.
" Curacao's new international airport,
which opened in July, can handle up to 1.6 million passengers a
year, according to the tourist board. Hotel occupancy averaged
83.1% from January through June. Hotel rooms will total more than
6,000 by 2009, which is double the current inventory.
" More than 1,000 hotel rooms will open on
St. Lucia by the end of this year, according to Phillip Pierre,
minister of tourism. That will bring the room count total to more
includes Air Jamaica's three weekly nonstops from New York and
Delta's daily service from Atlanta.
" Puerto Rico reported more than $777
million in hotel development over the next few years, more than
$400 million in airport improvements and the launch in early 2007
of a booking engine on its Web site, GoToPuertoRico.com.
" Visitor figures for the Turks and Caicos
from January through September totaled 181,000; the total for all
of 2005 was 176,000 visitors, according to Lindsay Musgrove,
director of tourism.
stressed that "we are not going after the masses. We are going
after the high-end market."
The hotel room
count will rise from 5,000 to 8,000 by 2012, Musgrove
" St.Maarten/St. Martin, now united in
promotions and marketing, will have 5,500 new hotel rooms by the
end of 2007. The $90 million expansion at Princess Juliana Airport
will be completed on Nov. 10.
To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].