Destination updates, high-season deals and
winter forecasts dominated the recent Caribbean Tourism Conference
in Aruba, which centered on diversifying business amid fierce
Arubas prime minister, touted the islands double-digit visitor
increases this year, crediting the success of partnerships between
public and private sectors as a factor behind the
Tourism Council (NTC), created in 2002, is committed to matching
tourism growth to island needs, Oduber said. Specifics of NTCs
master plan will be presented at Arubas annual tourism conference
on Dec. 9.
Arubas minister of tourism, reported a 19% growth in the North
American market this year, with 73% of all visitors hailing from
Many of those
visitors used travel agents, and Briesen cited the success of the
Aruba Certified Expert (ACE) program, which began in 2001 and now
has 3,000-plus agents in the U.S.
Jamaica. Visitors transferring from Montego Bay to
Negril now have a smooth, 45-mile drive, which marks Phase 1 of the
North Coast Highway project, according to Paul Pennicook, director
Phase 2, more
than 50% complete, links Montego Bay with Ocho Rios; the final
connection is the 75-mile stretch from Ocho Rios to Port Antonio,
set for next year.
New air service
includes two weekly United flights from Chicago to Montego Bay,
beginning Dec. 18; daily service on US Airways from Fort Lauderdale
to Kingston, effective Feb. 14; and weekday charter service by MLT
Vacations Feb. 4 from Dallas to Montego Bay.
that more than 5,000 rooms will join Jamaicas 25,000-room inventory
over the next five years, including the 850-room RIU Palace near
Ocho Rios next November and Grupo Pineros three new hotels totaling
1,800 rooms in St. Ann, which will operate under the Bahia Principe
ground Oct. 22 for the first of three hotels totaling 950 rooms in
the Rose Hall/Montego Bay area. AM Resorts begins work on four
hotels next year that will add 1,700 rooms in Trelawny.
Whitehouse opens Feb. 14 on the south coast. Rooms on the Beach, a
104-room SuperClubs (formerly Club Jamaica) property, opens Nov. 15
in Ocho Rios.
Virgin Islands. Kedrick Malone, tourist board director,
predicted a strong tourist season, helped along by our newest
initiative -- the industry-standards program to ensure that our
quality of service matches the beauty of the BVI
will spend more than $1 million for customer-service training at
all levels, from taxi drivers to tax collectors. Our front-line
people must deliver service that meets or exceeds our visitors
expectations, Malone said.
The new standards
also apply to the yacht sector, which comprises 50% of the
1,800-room inventory in the BVI and accounts for 55% of all
Nevis. Villa development is a rapidly emerging
growth market, according to Helen Kidd, CEO of the Nevis Tourism
Authority. Some 50 villas are operational at the Four Seasons Nevis
resort. Villa Paradiso, a small complex with three- and
four-bedroom units, will add rooms by Thanksgiving.
Kidd said that
arrivals are up 12% over last year, and officials predict a very
Barbados. Air arrivals are up 7% and cruise
visitors are up 18% to date over 2003, which was Barbados best year
ever, said Noel Lynch, minister of tourism.We have a model that
works and a private/public sector relationship that produces
Hilton will have its soft opening in December. This hotel will be a
shot in the arm for us, especially its new conference facility,
arrivals-and-departures terminal at the airport opens next month.
Phase 1 of the seaport expansion is near completion, and the new
cruise pier will be in place in 2006.
Maarten. Expanded airlift this winter, the completion of
Phase 2 of an $87 million airport expansion and a 20% visitor
increase through September has tourism officials predicting a
Chicago service Dec. 18, American returns with daily service from
New York (Kennedy) and Miami, Delta offers three weekly flights
from Atlanta Dec. 2, American Eagle jumps to eight weekly flights
from San Juan Dec. 17 and US Airways offers daily service from
Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C.
tourism director, said the Front Street beautification project in
Philipsburg is finished; coming up is an islandwide beach
and Caicos. A recent survey indicated that the average
daily spending per tourist is $340. That figure, coupled with a
projected 30% room increase in the next two years, will pump a lot
more revenue into our coffers, according to Lindsay Musgrove,
director of tourism.
is the Ritz-Carlton located on West Caicos, a short boat ride from
Providenciales. Other high-end hotels that will plant their
umbrellas along Grace Bay are the Four Seasons and the
that new Island Escape day packages, designed for cruise passengers
who want to visit other islands in the chain, will be
Anguilla. The islands first 18-hole golf course
debuts in 2005 as does a marketing initiative called Alluring
Anguilla Travel Agent Experience, according to Amelia
Vanterpool-Kubisch, tourism director.
Wallblake Airport expansion, including a runway extension, will be
finished in December when the Charming Escapes promotion debuts,
described as an affordable way to experience Anguilla by staying at
16 midmarket villas, guesthouses and inns, Vanterpool-Kubisch
Rico. Sheraton, will be the new convention centers
flagship hotel, and it breaks ground next year, according to a
spokesman from the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC). The center
itself, expected to open late next year, already has bookings for
information centers are open in Old San Juan and at the
specialists program for agents soon will go online, enabling agents
to take the course on their own schedule and then come to Puerto
Rico to complete the course, the PRTC said.
Grenada. Describing the island as a small player
in the tourism industry, William Joseph, tourism director, said,
Tourism is a big player in our economy. Although we have hurricane
damage of biblical proportions, we have to move forward as a
focus on the economys recovery. With the rehabilitation comes the
opportunity to enhance our product and strengthen our standards and
building codes, Joseph said. We have to retrain our craftspeople in
before Hurricane Ivan stood at 1,600 rooms. Just about 20% of the
rooms now are available. This will rise to 40% in the winter
season, Joseph said.
Grenada plans to
build an Ivan Museum as a visible aspect of our countrys history,
Trinidad and Tobago. Continentals new
thrice-weekly service from Houston to Port of Spain that began in
June will open up new dive and adventure markets for us, said
Warren Solomon, tourism director.
Likewise, the new
122-room Courtyard by Marriott, opening Dec. 6 in Port of Spain,
opens a new business market for us, as well, Solomon
from the U.S. showed a 15% rise through June over 2003.
Bahamas. New air service from JetBlue, Song and
Spirit offers low-cost travel and restores important price levels
for the destination, according to Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace,
director general of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
are massive, including a 1,200-room addition at Atlantis, a $1
billion redevelopment project in the Cable Beach area of Nassau,
and the projected 12,000-room Moon Bahamas resort on a man-made
island near Grand Bahama, due to open in 2010.
Vanderpool-Wallace said that tax legislation set to take
effect in 2006, whereby U.S. meetings can be written off as if they
were being held in the U.S., means we will be much more
A surge in cruise
traffic this year contributed to a 17% visitor increase through
August. We were on track for a very good year, but the hurricanes
slowed us down, he said.
Vincent and the Grenadines. The region had a 16% jump in
arrivals through July, totaling almost 168,000 visitors.
director of tourism, said that increased airlift is an emerging
trend. We want to update our airport facility on St. Vincent to
take advantage of the trend.
Resort on Canouan Island recently opened.
Kitts. The 641-room Marriott resort, which opened in 2003,
has helped change the way we do things here because now we have a
major conference facility, according to Christine Walwyn, CEO of
the Tourism Authority.
Golf has emerged
as a top visitor activity on St. Kitts. The renovated course at
Frigate Bay reopened Nov. 1. A second course is set to open next
fall and a third course will break ground in March.
St. Kitts bid to
host the Caribbean Tourism Conference next year (Bermuda and Puerto
Rico also bid; a decision is expected soon).
Dominica. We are not a destination for everyone
but are well-positioned to offer ecotourism with a focus on nature,
scuba, adventure, hiking and rest and relaxation, said Charles
Savarin, minister of tourism.
reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].