ORANJESTAD, Aruba -
Caribbean tourism officials meeting here in the wake of a damaging
hurricane season are optimistic about winter business.
In fact, they're
predicting a record season that would be a complete comeback from
the decline set off by the events of 9/11 three years
The optimism of
tourism ministers, speakers and others at the Caribbean Tourism
Organization's 27th annual conference is based on strong arrival
figures through September in most of the region, a spirit of
cooperation between destinations and cruise lines and the
stimulative effect of service by low-cost airlines such as Spirit,
JetBlue and Song.
This is not to say
that tourism leaders have forgotten the dire situation on
hurricane-damaged islands, especially Grenada and Grand
In fact, relief
efforts for the impacted islands gained momentum during the
conference, with more organizations stepping up to the plate to
director of tourism for Grenada, described island damage of
"Biblical proportions physically and psychologically," but assured
conference delegates that "Grenada will move forward as a nation."
The scheduled arrival of two cruise ships on Oct. 26 and 27 "is
important for our psyche," he said.
On other fronts,
CTO's new chairwoman, Pamela Richards,
set the tone for her two-year term in her inaugural
exist for the Caribbean tourism industry, but through CTO's
relationships with both the private and public sectors, we will
face them head on and excel," said Richards, who is commissioner of
tourism for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The following are
other highlights at the CTO conference:
- Jamaica felt
"very little post-Ivan falloff in September," according to Paul
Pennicook, director of tourism.
projects, a new ad campaign and increased airlift "bode well for
the winter and beyond into 2005," he said.
- The British
Virgin Islands will implement a hotel industry standards system "to
assure a quality accommodations product to match our island
product," said Kedrick Malone, director of tourism.
- Puerto Rico gained seven new carriers for the winter,
which represents an increase of 24% in seat capacity from the U.S.,
according to Milton Segarra, interim executive director of the
Puerto Rico Tourism Authority.
- Noel Lynch, minister of tourism for Barbados, at a
session titled "The Ins and Outs of Cruise Tourism," proposed an
independent study of cruise and land-based tourism and how their
interaction affects tourism in Barbados.
passengers only remember the food they ate on a cruise. I want them
to remember visiting Barbados and want them to return as a
land-based vacationer," he said.To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send
e-mail to[email protected].