A SINGLE CARIBBEAN TOURISM BODY was the message
delivered by Jean Holder, secretary general of the Caribbean
Tourism Organization, at a recent seminar on best practices in
public and private sector cooperation on Barbados. Holder called
for a merger of the CTO and the Caribbean Hotel Association. He
said the two regional bodies -- which more than 50 years ago were
part of the same Caribbean Tourist Association -- need to combine
resources to tackle such issues as economic crises, uncertainties
facing airlines and travel agents and shifting consumer desires.
Holder also said that a Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Organization
would help the region overcome the endless debates on how the
public and private sectors need to come together.
ARUBA's Assembly of Ministers approved the use
of the euro as the accepted form of payment on the island.
Residents and visitors will pay with euros, but change will be
given in Aruban florins. "The introduction of the euro in Aruba
will benefit [the island], considering the strong ties Aruba has
with the Netherlands and the European Union," according to a
statement from the ministers. No date has been set for the
CUBA RATES #1 with Travel + Leisure readers as
the top island destination in the Caribbean, according to results
from the publication's World's Best Awards 2003 which appear in the
August issue of T+L. The selection of Cuba, which ranked #8 last
year in the same survey, "highlights a trend toward destinations
that seem authentic and real," according to Nancy Novogrod, editor
in chief. Other islands in the top five in the region include
Bermuda, the Grenadines, St. John and Virgin Gorda.
STRONG NUMBERS for the Turks and Caicos were
reported by John Skippings, director of tourism. First-quarter
figures jumped 53% over the same period a year ago, for a total of
81,955 overnight and cruise ship visitors. The tourist-only figure
of 48,636 included a large block of honeymooners, up 30% in that
market. "We are getting back on track," Skippings said. "We will
continue to work with our partners and airlines to ensure our
destination continues to meet the challenges. We also will continue
to develop new niche markets."
• Elite Island Resorts' new seven-night Fly Free program, valid for
new bookings for weekend travel to Antigua and St. Lucia through
August, features free air on US Airways' nonstop flights from
Philadelphia and many US Airways feeder cities. Per person, double,
rates with free air at participating inclusive Antigua properties
include: Royal Antiguan Beach & Tennis Resort, from $899; Grand
Pineapple Beach, from $1,049; St. James's Club, from $1,149. Rates
with air at St. Lucia inclusive resorts include: St. James's Club,
Morgan Bay, from $949, and Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort,
from $1,449. Children ages 2 to 12 are $399. Commission is 15%; all
passengers must pay a mandatory $59 FAA tax. For details, visit www.eliteislandresorts.com.
• Sandals launched a $100,000 St. Lucia Sweepstakes to promote its
three properties on St. Lucia. The travel agent "earn and learn"
promotion is a trivia contest of 25 questions based on Sandals'
new, four-color brochure on its St. Lucia resorts. Agents must send
in their completed entries by Sept. 15 to be eligible for prizes
that range from a six-night stay at any Sandals on St. Lucia with
first-class roundtrip air on Air Jamaica to a three-night stay at
Sandals Halcyon, St. Lucia with roundtrip air. For details, call
• Agents can book clients' tee times in advance at Radisson Cable
Beach & Golf Resort, Nassau by logging on to the resort's Web
site at www.radisson-cablebeach.com. The resort recently
completed a redesign of its 18-hole course and includes free greens
fees as part of its all-inclusive program.
• Anguilla's Cap Juluca offers one-week Mind, Body and Spirit
wellness programs with four practitioners and treatments that
include spiritual astrology, yoga and intuitive healing. Program
dates are Nov. 15 to 22 and Dec. 16 to 23 plus eight dates in 2004.
Treatments are offered a la carte, with rates ranging from $30 to
$190 per person, depending on the session. Daily rates at Cap
Juluca, through Dec. 19, 2004, range from $325 to $980 per room,
double. For info, call (888) 858-5822.
• Bolongo Bay Beach Club, St. Thomas, offers rates from $99 per
room, per night, double, EP, through August. The 65-room resort's
semi-inclusive Continental Plan is $125 per room, per night, double
(daily breakfast, non-motorized water sports and other extras); the
all-inclusive rate is $315 per room, per night, double. For info,
call (800) 524-4746 or visit www.bolongobay.com.
GRAND BAHAMA VACATIONS' getaway packages are
valid through Aug. 5 for travel Aug. 1 to Sept. 20. Sample rates
for a three-night plan with air and hotels from Cincinnati;
Richmond, Va.; Cleveland; Memphis start at $169 per person, double.
Other U.S. gateways include Raleigh/Durham, N.C. and Tampa. Fl.
Government taxes are extra; air and hotel are not sold separately.
To book, call (800) 545-1399.