FAJARDO, Puerto Rico -- The future of Caribbean tourism and the new face of the North American marketplace -- altered by the economy, the aftermath of Sept. 11 and new consumer behavior -- are the hot topics at this year's Caribbean Hotel Industry Marketplace at the Wyndham El Conquistador Resort & Country Club taking place here through June 19.

According to a study conducted by Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown, the biggest growth markets in the tourism industry today are travel with children and niche markets, such as ecotourism, weddings, dive, minorities, reunions, golf and handicapped travel.

Peter Yesawich, chief executive officer of YPB, said price and value drive today's consumers' travel decisions as well.

In a flurry of statistics, Yesawich reported that 53% of today's consumers use the Net to plan or purchase travel and that 59% plan to vacation close to home this year.

In other news:

• The Barbados Tourism Authority's Best of Barbados summer promotion is offered by 30 U.S. wholesalers. The seven-night plan, valid at 45 hotels through Dec. 14, includes discounted air, hotel accommodations with breakfast and a free day's use of a car when three days are paid. Starting rate is $585 per person. For more information, see Barbados running incentives ads.

A $2.3 million ad campaign, running through June and from mid-August to mid-October in key Northeast and Florida markets, will keep Barbados "top of mind," said Bill Silvermintz, BTA's vice president of marketing.

• Puerto Rico will launch a summer consumer and trade promotion this month with discounted rates and value-added components. Details are forthcoming.

• Nevis opens a new air terminal July 5 and will complete an islandwide road upgrade by the end of July. Meanwhile, Montpelier Plantation Inn, recently sold, will be closed from the end of July through Oct. 12 to renovate and upgrade.

• The new Caribbean Hotel Association president for the 2002-2004 term is Simon Suarez, executive vice president of Coral Hotels and Resorts in the Dominican Republic.

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