AS MANY AS 20 PEOPLE, mostly Americans from the
Richmond Dive Club in Virginia on vacation in Belize, died Oct. 8
when 15-foot tidal surges, whipped by 140 mph winds from powerful
Hurricane Iris, capsized their dive boat. The 120-foot Wave Dancer,
chartered from Peter Hughes Diving in Miami, had sought safe haven
in Big Creek, about 80 miles south of Belize City. Three of the 20
passengers and five of eight crew members survived the storm, which
also destroyed thousands of homes in the southern part of Belize.
Recovery and rebuilding efforts are under way. Tourism minister
Mark Espat said the Belize Tourism Board has dispatched teams of
rescue workers, including tourism police units, to the areas most
affected which include Placencia, Monkey River and surrounding
villages. For travel updates, visit the Belize Web site at www.travelbelize.org or www.belizeemergency.net.
THREE KEY MESSAGES emerged from a recent
strategy session in New York hosted by the Caribbean Tourism
Organization to formulate ideas to jumpstart travel to the region.
The central themes were: One Caribbean for One America, which
highlights special hotel packages, discounted rates and promotions
on 16 islands; Caribbean Cares, which includes charity events and
free stays for firefighters, police and rescue officers, and travel
agent incentives and information on increased commissions. CTO's
Board of Directors and ministers of tourism were set to meet this
week in the Bahamas to discuss the tourism downswing following the
terrorist attacks on the U.S.
SONESTA BEACH RESORTS in Key Biscayne, Fla.;
Anguilla; Aruba, and Bermuda boosted agent commissions to 20% for
all bookings made between Sept. 24 and Dec. 15.
THE BARBADOS TOURISM AUTHORITY and the Barbados
Hotel and Tourism Association are sponsoring a hospitality
conference Oct. 30 and 31 to support initiatives aimed at enhancing
the island's tourism product. The conference is part of the
Barbados Tourism & Hospitality Festival Oct. 26 to Nov. 3, a
new food festival designed to redefine the island as the
Caribbean's culinary capital.
THE JAMAICA TOURIST BOARD reported that former
chairman Adrian Robinson returned to the private sector as a
marketing counselor. Trevor Riley, JTB's former deputy director of
marketing, joined Air Jamaica as director of marketing,
A CONTINGENT of 50 hoteliers from Jamaica
converged on New York Oct. 5 as a show of support for the
destination and the recovery efforts. The group, wearing "I Love
New York" T-shirts, appeared on the "Today" show and "Good Morning
America," donated Jamaica's Blue Mountain coffee to a Midtown
firehouse and joined in prayer and song in Union Square.
THE CARIBBEAN REGION will benefit from
widespread redeployments in cruise traffic made necessary by the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Micky Arison, Carnival Corp. chairman,
said cruise lines have pulled 15,000 to 18,000 berths out of
European routes since the attack, with most of the ships redirected
to the Caribbean for 2001 and 2002. Caribbean destinations closest
to the North American marketplace will benefit the most, Arison
SANDALS RESORTS chairman Gordon "Butch" Stewart
and archrival SuperClubs Resorts chairman John Issa will join
forces with the Jamaica Tourist Board in promotional efforts in the
U.S. Promotions could include packages in conjunction with Air
Jamaica that feature stays at each of the firms' hotels. The
government has allocated an additional $8 million for tourism
marketing, bringing to $13 million the amount allocated the sector
in the past two months.
AMERICAN EAGLE will introduce three daily
roundtrip flights from Bonaire to Aruba Oct. 15. The new service
augments American Eagle's service four times a week from San Juan
to Bonaire, launched in June. On Nov. 1, Nevis Express begins
nonstop flights three times a day between San Juan and Nevis.
Flying time is approximately one hour.