Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter Aug. 7, 2003

THE JAMAICA TOURIST BOARD reported a 20% jump in visitor arrivals to the island in the first half of 2003 compared with the same period a year ago, largely thanks to a boom in cruise calls. "It's inspiring to see such a remarkable comeback for tourism, and to know that so many people are traveling again," said director of tourism Paul Pennicook. Although he credited intense promotion by the JTB, airlines and hotels for the rebound, the numbers show the recovery was fueled mainly by cruise ship calls. The number of cruise passenger arrivals to Jamaican ports of call skyrocketed 40% to 601,214, compared with 431,765 in 2002. By comparison, Jamaica's room overnights grew 6% to 678,315 from January to June, up from 634,015 in the first six months of 2002.

SEABORNE AIRLINES will boost its daily schedule between St. Croix and St. Thomas in the late fall. Seaborne currently offers between 18 and 24 daily roundtrip flights between the two islands, but with the addition of 10 more daily flights the seaplane airline will create a virtual air bridge from St. Croix to St. Thomas, according to Omer ErSelcuk, chief marketing officer. For schedules, visit www.seaborneairlines.com.

LODGEPODGE
• September is Travel Agent Month at Viva Resorts' six inclusive properties in the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Mexico. Nightly rates start at $37 per person, single or double, at Viva Dominicus Beach, La Romana-Bayahibe, Dominican Republic. Anyone sharing a room with the agent also receives the discounted rate. Agents must present a valid IATAN or ARC number at the time of booking. To book, call (800) 898-9968 or e-mail [email protected].
• Wyndham Int'l entered into a 10-year alliance with Viva Resorts to rebrand its properties as Viva Wyndham Resorts and incorporate them into the Wyndham portfolio, effective Dec. 1. The Viva Wyndham properties will follow Wyndham brand standards and the resorts will participate in the WyndhamByRequest guest-recognition program.

NEW BUSINESS CARDS
• Joe Issa, son of John Issa who founded the SuperClubs hotel chain in Jamaica, severed his ties with the family business last month, according to Zein Issa-Nakash, his younger sister and SuperClubs' vp-marketing and public relations. Issa-Nakash said her brother left the firm "to pursue non-tourism-related businesses in Jamaica." Joe Issa, who was executive vice president at the time he left, joined SuperClubs in 1989 as resident manager at Grand Lido Negril and worked in various capacities over the year. Issa-Nakash said her brother's duties "will be distributed among senior executives within the company."
• Allen Chastanet, vp-marketing and sales for Air Jamaica, has resigned his post, effective Aug. 31. Chastanet, who is from St. Lucia, will own and operate the 20-room Villa Creole, a new boutique-style hotel that is scheduled to open in October in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. Prior to joining Air Jamaica in 1995, Chastanet was St. Lucia's director of tourism.
• Rick Zeolla is the new general manager at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. He most recently was general manager of the Bucharest Marriott. Meanwhile, the Aruba Marriott named Pasquale Strocchia director of sales and marketing. He was formerly market director-group and travel industry sales for Marriott Int'l Offshore Resorts.

CORRECTION: Gogo Worldwide Vacations inadvertently supplied an incorrect telephone number for its Fall Caribbean Sale announcement (Caribbean E-letter 7/31). The correct contact number is (800) 229-4999.

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