By Gay Nagle Myers
NEW YORK -- Caribbean leaders are hopeful that the region's
tourism industry will show signs of recovery with the launch of
four 30-second TV ads and an online booking site, powered by
These are the first components of the $16 million Life Needs the
Caribbean campaign, a regional marketing program administered by
the Caribbean Hotel Association Charitable Trust, a public/private
sector mix of governments, hotels, airlines and credit card
companies to promote the Caribbean as a single destination.
The ads air through Nov. 16 on 14 nationwide cable stations and
carry a "Call your travel agent" tag line, a toll-free booking
number and the Web address at www.gocaribbean.com.
Expedia plans to launch a travel agent booking link on the site
by year's end.
Current paid participants in the marketing program include 18
Caribbean countries, 155 hotels, two airlines and one credit card
Destinations which have not contributed to the regional plan are
listed on the site as Caribbean Tourism Organization member
countries, but they get no listing in the TV commercials.
Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, director general of the Bahamas'
Ministry of Tourism and deputy chairman of CHACT, representing the
public sector, said the region should "breathe a lot easier" now
that the TV spots and Web site are up and running.
"We must capitalize on the fact that the Caribbean is close,
safe and offers a variety of experiences," he said.
Ralph Taylor, chairman and chief executive officer of Almond
Resorts in Barbados and chairman of the trust, representing the
private sector, said the marketing plan "represents a culmination
of efforts designed to build the Caribbean brand to compete in
global markets and prevent the further dilution of our revenue
The campaign's second phase will launch early next year with
additional TV commercials and presentations to consumer and trade
A separate marketing effort in the U.K. and Europe also is
planned for 2003.