PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos -- An increase in air service to the Turks and Caicos this winter is buoying the spirits of tourism officials and hoteliers who are hoping for a strong season.

Although the destination did not experience a visitor increase this year until August -- and then just a 1.5% upswing that represented only 135 more visitors as compared with August 2001 for a total of 13,429 -- officials were pleased.

Director of tourism John Skippings said, "The increase was well received, and we are hopeful that it is the beginning of a turnaround.

"The year began with a drop of 23% over the same period in 2001, so the August upswing plus the new airlift are reasons for optimism," Skippings said.

Following are the air service changes:

• Delta will launch weekly nonstop service from Atlanta Dec. 1. The seasonal schedule represents the resumption of the carrier's schedule into the destination. Delta previously served Providenciales from Dec. 1 until Sept. 11, 2001, when the service was suspended.

• As part of its overall Caribbean expansion this winter, US Airways began A319 service from Charlotte, N.C., on Nov. 2 with four flights a week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Skippings said the new route "enables us to reach other areas of the U.S. and improve our access even further."

• American Airlines substantially increased its service from New York, effective Nov. 1, by upping its flights to six a week from one. Additional U.S. gateways include Boston with two weekly flights and Miami with three daily flights.

To help agents better sell the destination, the tourist board recently produced a 10-minute promotional video and CD as well as a new 32-page informational guide.

In New York's Times Square, a gigantic movie screen will display scenic footage of island and water scenes in the Turks and Caicos for 14 days surrounding the Thanksgiving weekend.

The destination's Web address and air service this winter also will be displayed on the screen.

• • •

For information
(800) 241-0824
Tourist Board phone: (649) 946-2321

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI