LANDING AND PASSENGER FEES in the U.S. Virgin
Islands increased by 25% on Feb. 1. After backing down from
implementing increases last year when airline executives vowed to
cut back services or stop serving the territory altogether if the
hikes took effect, the Virgin Islands Port Authority introduced the
higher fees and said they are necessary to offset a deficit of $5
million in the authority's Aviation Division in fiscal 2003. The
new fees are expected to reduce the deficit by 60%, to $2 million.
Representatives of American, American Eagle and Delta declined
comment, so it's unclear if---or how---they will react. Fees for
passengers arriving in the U.S.V.I. increased to $3.24 per person
from $2.59; departing passengers are charged $9.63, up from $7.70;
and landing fees jumped to $3.13 from $2.50 per 1,000 pounds.
ISLAND DESTINATIONS, a luxury tour operator
whose programs include resorts in Barbados, St. Barts, St. Thomas
and Turks and Caicos, now offers a Peace of Mind cancellation and
trip change protection plan that guarantees agent commissions even
when clients cancel a trip. Travelers can cancel or change their
travel plans for any reason at any time prior to scheduled flight
departure without penalty. The operator's previous plan required
notification within 24 hours for cancellations or changes. The new
plan, which starts at $39 per person for both land and air
portions, comes with a 24-hour hotline at (888) 454-4422. The
operator's Web site is at www.islanddestinations.com.
CLUB MED will officially launch a travel agent
Web site at www.clubmedta.com on Valentine's Day. It will enable
agents to book Club Med packages online through VAXVacationAccess,
provide special promotions and offer sales specialist training.
John Vanderslice, president and CEO of Club Med Americas, said the
launch is part of Club Med's "strategy to support agents throughout
US AIRWAYS' new daily nonstop service from
Philadelphia to Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, takes off Feb. 15,
with roundtrip fares from $400.
PENCIL IT IN
• Bahamas Heritage Festival, March 4-8, Arawak Cay, Nassau. The
festival will showcase Bahamian traditions, artisans and folklore.
The event, sponsored by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, mirrors
the Smithsonian Institute's Festival of American Folklife, held in
Washington, D.C. in 1994.
• Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange, April 10-12, Barcelo Bavaro
Convention Center, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
• Seventh Annual Bonaire Dive Festival, June 14-21, Bonaire.
Festival packages are available from Aqua Dreams at www.aquadreams.com,
Caradonna Caribbean Tours at www.caradonna.com and Maduro Dive Fanta-Seas at
Festival information can be found at www.scubadiving.com/bonairefest.