Destinations say 'thanks' to rescue workers


NEW YORK -- Three destinations stepped forward to provide free or discounted vacations to rescue workers and the families of missing public servants who aided victims in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

The Romanian Tourist Office, the St. Kitts & Nevis Tourist Board and the Bermuda Department of Tourism all unveiled initiatives.

On St. Kitts & Nevis, select properties will offer free seven-night hotel stays through Dec. 15 and again April 15 to Dec. 15, 2002, said G.A. Dwyer Astaphan, minister of tourism for St. Kitts.

The participating properties are making a total of 30 rooms available each night on the selected dates.

The offers include hotel rooms and meals, and Astaphan said he is working on securing discounted air fare, car rentals, island excursions and shopping.

"The emergency workers have just been fantastic," Astaphan said. "We [in the Caribbean] will reach out to those in distress and offer them a chance to get away from it all."

The tourist office will work with the mayor's offices in New York and Washington to determine who will receive the trips.

Simion Alb, director of the Romanian Tourist Office in New York, said the "hearts of Romanians are with the U.S. right now."

The tourist office is organizing six- to nine-night vacations -- including hotel accommodations, motor transfers, day trips, some meals and possibly air fare (on either Tarom or Austrian Airlines) -- to Bucharest and other Romanian cities and resorts for as many as 20 families of missing firemen and police officers.

Families will be selected by New York City officials, Alb said.

The offer, to be extended officially within a month, will remain valid indefinitely.

"The families can wait until late 2002, so their children can take advantage of the grand opening of the new Draculaland theme park in Transylvania that Halloween," Alb noted.

According to published reports, Bermuda's government is offering 100 vacations to rescueers working at the World Trade Center site in New York.

The vacations are "a gesture of thanks for firefighters, police officers and rescue personnel who helped several Bermudans escape the Twin Towers on Sept. 11," , said tourism minister David Allen.

Allen could not yet confirm how many hotels or airlines would participate in the offer but said the Bermuda government would pay some of the travel and lodging costs. Details are being finalized.

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