Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: August 15, 2002

US AIRWAYS VACATIONS will continue business as usual during US Airways' reorganization, according to Kris Potter, vice president and general manager. As part of Mark Travel Corp., US Airways Vacations is not a part of the airline's filing for Chapter 11 protection under the U.S. bankruptcy code. All US Airways Vacations' reservations will be honored; all regular refund and exchange policies apply. Because US Airways' customer programs, such as Dividend Miles, remain in place, US Airways Vacations passengers will continue to accrue miles on the air portion of their packages.

THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS' new ad campaign has definite patriotic undertones. TV, radio and print ads in key mainland markets highlight each of the three islands, yet focus on the fact that the U.S.V.I. is part of the U.S. "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie is the backdrop for the four TV spots that feature kayaking, diving, shopping and seaplane travel as well as other vacation opportunities on the islands. In addition, a special cable TV campaign will kick off Sept. 2 to promote the 50th anniversary of the Crucian Festival on St. Croix, which began in May and culminates on Jan. 6.

PUERTO RICO'S room inventory will increase 18%, to 15,292 rooms, by the end of 2003, according to Milton Segarra, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. A total of 24 new hotel projects, representing an investment of $580 million, are currently under construction on the island. On the back burner are another 42 hotel projects totaling 5,807 additional rooms. Total investment in present and planned projects is $1.9 billion.

IN THE MEANTIME, Puerto Rico Tourism Co. is running its Fly Free promotion for the third time since last year, with free roundtrip air to San Juan from seven U.S. gateways. All travel must be booked from Aug. 18 to 25 for travel from Sept. 1 to Nov. 1. Bookings carry a five-night minimum; participating wholesalers include Gogo Worldwide Vacations, Inter Island Tours, Travel Impressions and US Airways Vacations. For details, visit www.gotopuertorico.com.

YA'LLA TOURS USA has been licensed by the U.S. Treasury Dept. to sell travel to Cuba. The Portland, Ore.-based operation will offer group tours, commissionable at 12%, to specific entities, such as church groups, teachers, journalists, historians, artists, humanitarian organizations, researchers, athletes, professionals attending meetings and others licensed to travel to Cuba. Charter flights will depart from Los Angeles, Miami and New York (Kennedy). The land portion, which is included in rates, will be inclusive, according to president Ronen Paldi. The firm, which specializes in travel to the Middle East, will update its Web site with information on who can travel to Cuba and what steps a retail agent must take to meet Treasury Dept. criteria for travel to the island.

LODGEPODGE
• Elite Island Resorts, formerly Antigua Resorts, acquired the management contract for the former Wyndham Morgan Bay Resort on St. Lucia, and renamed it the St. James's Club, Morgan Bay. Rob Barrett, chairman of Elite Island Resorts, said the firm plans to expand the beach by 50% and add a gourmet restaurant, a theme pool and a full-service spa, all by Nov. 1. The resort will offer both inclusive and European plans (beginning in January). In addition, Barrett said the firm is upping agent commission to 13%, from 10%, at all hotels. For information on the firm's eight Caribbean properties, visit the Web site at www.eliteislandresorts.com.
• The reopened 42-room Tamarind Beach Hotel on Canouan in the Grenadines offers a 25% discount through Oct. 31 on regular rates that start at $185 per night, double, with breakfast, transfers and water sports. To book, call (877) 707-6571.
• Tamarind Cove and Coconut Creek, both on Barbados, are closed for renovations until Oct. 8. For information and winter rates, check the Web site at www.eleganthotels.com.
• Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort, St. Lucia hiked agent commissions to 15% on all bookings made by Dec. 20. Agents also will receive a $50 food and beverage credit or a free 30-minute treatment at Windjammer's Serenity Spa. To book, call (800) 743-9609 or (800) 958-7376.

NAME GAME
• Jumby Bay, Antigua, named Peter Bowling managing director.
• Embassy Suites Hotel Los Marlins Golf Resort, Dominican Republic, appointed Steven Ankrom executive vice president and general manager. The property is set to open in November.

PENCIL IT IN
• Annual Creole Music Festival, Dominica, Nov. 1 to 3.
• Caribbean Marketplace 2003, Caribbean Hotel Association, Puerto Rico, Jan. 19 to 21.

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