Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: August 22, 2002

ST. LUCIA'S Piton Travel Agent Incentive program, valid for bookings through April 30, features five grand prizes of $25,000 each to the top-volume agent in each of five U.S. regions. According to the St. Lucia Tourist Board, each time a client who has been booked by an agent travels to St. Lucia, the agent gets a Piton Point. Travel must be completed by May 30. At the promotion's end, the top 15 agents across the U.S's five regions will win cash prizes, with $25,000 awarded to the top agent in each region, $10,000 for second-place winners and $5,000 for those finishing third. A special prize also will be awarded to the agent with the most group bookings (one Piton Point for each group booked). The U.S. regions are Northeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and West Coast. Winners will receive their awards at the Piton Awards ceremony next July in St. Lucia. Agents can fax their booking vouchers to (866) 363-4300 or e-mail them to [email protected]. The Web site at www.stlucia.org will have monthly updates on the leading agents.

SANDALS RESORTS sealed an exclusive marketing alliance with WeddingChannel.com, creating what Sandals claims is the first online honeymoon registry. To book and register a honeymoon, agents make a deposited booking, create a free wedding account on the WeddingChannel.com site and enter the Sandals booking number.

US AIRWAYS VACATIONS launched its H.U.G. (which obviously stands for Huge savings, Unique travel incentives and Global product offerings) incentive program for agents and consumers for bookings from Aug. 19 through Sept. 30 for travel from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. Agents will earn $10 per GDS booking, $20 per VAX Vacation Access booking and $10 per room for a group booking. For each VAX booking, agents also are eligible to win one of 14 three-night trips to 12 Caribbean destinations. Clients get $50 off per reservation on air/hotel Caribbean vacations and an additional $50 per booking to St. Kitts & Nevis, Turks & Caicos, Belize and Grenada.

YA'LLA TOURS USA's commissionable programs to Cuba will operate from a variety of U.S. gateways and connect with Cuban charter flights departing from Los Angeles, Miami and New York. Ronen Paldi, president, said gateways vary, "depending on where the groups originate. Upcoming group departure points include Chicago, Denver, Phoenix and Seattle." Although Ya'lla Tours recently was licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department to sell travel to Cuba, the requirement still stands that only qualifying passengers -- including members of religious, educational and humanitarian organizations; researchers; historians; artists; journalists; athletes; professional attending conferences; and Cuban-Americans visiting relatives -- who have been licensed by the Treasury Department for Cuban travel can participate in Ya'lla's programs. The firm will produce a flier and update www.yallatours.com with information on who can go to Cuba and what steps a retail agents must take to meet Treasury Department criteria for travel to Cuba.

LODGEPODGE
• Occidental-Allegro Hotels & Resorts launched a new brand identity for its portfolio of 80 city hotels and beach resorts in the Caribbean, Mexico, Africa and Europe. The new categories are top-of-the-line Royal, Grand and Allegro. For details, call (800) 858-2258 or visit Allegro Resorts at www.allegroresorts.com or Occidental Hotels & Resorts at www.occidental-hoteles.com.
• Hilton Caribbean's World of Savings rate features discounts up to 40% on room rates at each of its eight resorts through Dec. 15. Children under age 5 eat for free; those from ages 5 to 12 years get free breakfast plus 50% off at other meals when dining with adults; and kids ages 18 and under stay free in a room with adults. To book, ask for plan code WS.
• The Westin St. John Resort & Villas in the U.S. Virgin Islands caters to its weddings market with traditional as well as kooky alternatives for wedding ceremonies, such as underwater in a submarine or in a wetsuit on a coral reef, above the water in a parasail and parachute or on the water in a yacht. For details, visit www.westinresortstjohn.com.

ANTIGUA'S Finance Dept. is now collecting the $20 departure tax at V.C. Bird Int'l Airport. The fee previously was collected by the airlines and then remitted to the government.

THE CARIBBEAN Tourism Organization signed a one-year deal with electronic communications company E-Marketing that will enable its 32 member counties to send e-mail broadcasts to a database of some 60,000 travel agents.

CARIBBEAN STAR AIRLINES applied to the government of Trinidad and Tobago to operate frequents flights between the two islands, using 37-seat or 50-seat Dash 8 planes. The Trinidad-Tobago route currently is served by BWIA, LIAT and Tobago Express.

PENCIL IT IN
• First Int'l Jamaica Jerk Style/Southern Barbecue Cook-Off, Sept. 28 to 30, Sunset Beach Resort & Spa, Montego Bay, Jamaica.
• CTO's annual Caribbean Tourism Conference, Oct. 28 to 31, Grand Bahama Island. Participants can download registration forms and view the conference program and the schedule of business meetings at a special Web site at http://ctc.caribtourism.com.

OOPS: Chairman of Elite Island Resorts, formerly Antigua Resorts, is Rob Barrett (his name was incorrectly spelled in the Aug. 15 Caribbean E-Letter). Also, St. James's Club, Morgan Bay, St. Lucia, the firm's most recent acquisition, will remain open while expansion plans are under way to add a theme pool, gourmet restaurant and full-service spa by Nov. 1. For information on the firm's eight Caribbean properties, visit the Web site at www.eliteislandresorts.com.

Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI