CANCUN, Mexico -- A regional marketing plan, which has been kicked
about in the Caribbean for years, actually could happen in 2002,
Ralph Taylor, president of the Caribbean Hotel Association said at
the opening ceremony of the CHA's annual Marketplace here.
Twice since Sept. 11, Caribbean heads of state have met to
develop a strategic tourism plan, the details of which could be
unveiled within six months.
Allen Chastanet, chairman of CHA's marketing committee and
executive vice president of Air Jamaica, said Caribbean governments
have committed to $4 million for tourism marketing in the first
year, with 60% coming from the private sector, 40% from the public
Chastanet is hopeful another $4 million will be raised from
other tourism partners.
The first priority of the program, he said, is a cable TV
campaign with four spots set to run in late February with the theme
"Life Needs the Caribbean."
Each ad will feature a toll-free number and a tag line for
consumers to call a travel agent.
Taylor, meanwhile, documented the falloff in business that began
last March with a sagging economy. That was followed by rate
discounting, and then a decline in arrivals that culminated with
the attacks of Sept. 11 "and its catastrophic events for world
travel and especially the Caribbean."
"Consumer confidence slipped and the market was on a slippery
slope," he said.
Short-term booking trends are not filling hotel rooms now, and
the outlook through March is a "tough one," Taylor said.
However, Taylor and other tourism officials here are optimistic
that "the uptick in the economy and in travel will be evident by
the second or third quarter of this year."
In other news at the conference:
• Jamaica's director of tourism, Faye Pickersgill, reported that
declines since Sept. 11 are leveling off.
Business to Jamaica was down 20% in September, 20.7% in October,
14.9% in November, 11.7% in December and 10.6% this month. "We need
to continually stimulate the market," she said.
To that end, Jamaica launched a national TV campaign Jan. 7 that
will run through Feb. 16. The theme builds on the solidarity
message begun after Sept. 11.
• The new executive director of the Caribbean Alliance for
Sustainable Tourism (CAST) is Jasmine Garraway. She replaces Kelly
Robinson, who directed CAST since its inception five years ago.
• Coral Hotels & Resorts, with four properties in the
Dominican Republic, will open the 217-room Crowne Plaza Malecon in
Santo Domingo in spring 2003. Coral will operate the property,
which will carry the Crowne Plaza name.
• CHA Marketplace 2003 will take place in San Juan, Puerto
• The latest date for the opening of the state-of-the-art spa at
Wyndham Sugar Bay Beach Resort in St. Thomas is May.
• Paradise Cove Resort in Anguilla opened its Jasmine Villa that
includes 12 studio suites, three one-bedroom penthouse suites, a
fitness center and meeting room.