COLLABORATION, cooperation, commitment and
coordinated air connections are the keys to the reinvention of
Caribbean tourism, Bahamas Prime Minister Perry G. Christie told
delegates at the CTC-25 conference in Freeport, Bahamas, this week.
In his keynote speech, Christie railed against what he described as
the "same old discussions that took place 20 years ago that never
accomplished anything but continuing competitiveness" in the
MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM CTC-25:
• CTC-25 drew more than 1,000 registrants, including 175 travel
agents from the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, down from the
400-plus agents who attended in 2000, the last year the conference
was held (it was canceled in 2001 after Sept. 11). Next year's
conference venue could be the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to
Jean Holder, Caribbean Tourism Organization secretary general.
• The Bahamas was elected to a second two-year term as chair of the
CTO. Bahamas minister of tourism Obie Wilchombe, who assumed the
chairmanship in May following the Progressive Liberal Party's
election victory, will continue to serve as chairman of the
• Airline strategies and partnerships dominated a session at CTC-25
entitled "View from the Cockpit; View from the Seats," moderated by
Conrad Aleong, chairman of Trinidad-based BWIA. Although Aleong did
not mention the dire financial straits facing his carrier, he
called for "regional carrier integration." In a meeting Aleong has
called for Nov. 11, he and other regional carriers will meet to
implement specific cost-cutting measures, such as shared-lease
• Jose M. Suarez, deputy executive director of the Puerto Rico
Tourism Co., said 21 new hotel projects currently are under way in
Puerto Rico, representing an investment of $560 million and will
add 2,261 rooms (15% of the total inventory) by the end of 2003.
Suarez said an additional 56 hotel projects -- representing 8,600
rooms -- are in the planning stages, for a total investment of $2.2
billion in completed and planned hotel projects.
• U.S. visitor arrivals for a handful of islands were up this year,
including Barbados, by 22% through September; Nevis, by 18% through
July; Curacao, by 12% through September; and Grenada, by 8.3%
US AIRWAYS finalized a deal with Winair for
interisland code sharing. The deal is to go into effect in
December, pending government approval. Under the deal, US Airways
would place its code on Winair flights from St. Maarten to
Anguilla, Antigua, Saba, St. Barts, St. Eustatius and St. Kitts and
Nevis. The Winair deal is part of the US Airways "GoCaribbean" coop
marketing initiative, announced in June, with Winair, Nevis Express
and Caribbean Star. In July, US Airways began code-sharing with
Nevis Express, linking San Juan with St. Kitts and Nevis. US
Airways is continuing to work on a deal with Caribbean Star.
MEANWHILE, US Airways Vacations extended the
Buy One Get One Free special at Puerto Rico's Wyndham El
Conquistador Resort and Golden Door Spa for bookings made by Nov.
30 in the Ocean room category. Travel must be completed by Dec. 19.
Packages include roundtrip air, accommodations, transfers, hotel
taxes, service charges and international travel taxes. Four-night
plans start at $759 from New York (LaGuardia) and $818 from Boston;
Hartford, Conn.; Philadelphia; and Washington. When travelers book
one night's accommodation, a round of golf, a spa treatment and a
water sport, they receive another free night, free golf, a
complimentary spa treatment and a free water sport activity. On
Thanksgiving Day, one buffet dinner is free when another is booked.
For details, call (800) 455-0123.
NEW FACES in the Caribbean tourism industry
include: Penelope Beckles, minister of tourism, Trinidad and
Tobago; Sharon Pascal, director of tourism, Dominica; and Myrna
Jansen-Feliciano, managing director of the Aruba Tourism Authority,
who replaced Jan van Nes, now general manager of the Playa Linda
Beach Resort in Aruba.
HILTON CARIBBEAN, a division of Hilton Int'l,
entered the inclusive market by signing an agreement with Dominican
Republic-based Coral Hotels & Resorts to handle sales and
marketing for Coral's four resorts in the Dominican Republic. As
part of the agreement, the companies launched a brand called Coral
by Hilton that will consist of the four Dominican Republic resorts,
which Coral will continue to manage.
FIVE-NIGHT STAYS (or longer) at SuperClubs'
three Grand Lido resorts on Jamaica, completed by Dec. 31, 2003,
are worth a $500 bonus commission. The properties are the Grand
Lido Braco, Grand Lido Negril and Grand Lido Sans Souci. Five-night
rates start at $2,500 per person, double. For information, call
(800) GO-SUPER or check the Web site, www.superclubs.com.
THE CARIBBEAN Tourism Organization's regional
television ad campaign, entitled "Life Needs the Caribbean," is on
hold and will resume after the U.S. congressional elections Nov. 5.
The first phase of the $16 million campaign began airing on CNN,
Fox and MSNBC Aug. 21; an additional 14 cable channels began airing
the spots Sept. 16 for an eight-week run. However, ads were halted
Oct. 16 when feedback indicated that the current U.S. economic and
political climate is negative to travel and is counter to what the
ads are trying to portray.
THE HOLIDAY INN SunSpree Resort Hotel, Paradise
Island, Bahamas, will become a 100% inclusive operation, effective
Jan. 1. Until then, both EP and inclusive rates are available at
the 246-unit property, according to Clinton Davis, reservations
AMERICAN EXPRESS Vacations and Travel
Impressions launched a high-end Jamaica product to showcase the
more luxurious side of the island. The firms will sell and market
12 properties as part of the Exquisite Jamaica program. All
vacations booked through the new program include first-class air on
Air Jamaica. Participating properties are The Caves, Couples
Negril, Couples Swept Away Negril, Goldeneye, Grand Lido Braco,
Grand Lido Negril, Grand Lido Sans Souci, Half Moon, Royal
Plantation Golf Resort, Sandals Negril, Sandals Royal Caribbean and
PLEASANT HOLIDAYS will begin distributing its
first-ever Caribbean brochure Nov. 15 for travel starting in
January. The new programs are aimed at the West Coast market,
coinciding with Air Jamaica's new twice-daily schedule of flights
from Los Angeles to Jamaica, beginning in April for the summer
season. The packages pay 12% commission with a $40 bonus for every
• Royal Plantation Golf Resort and Spa by Beaches is the new name
of the flagship, 80-suite Beaches resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. In
a move to reflect its uniqueness as an especially exclusive
inclusive, the Beaches moniker, which once began the property name,
was moved to the end of the name. Mario Machado, general manager,
said the move "will help clear up any confusion in the marketplace.
Most Beaches' resorts welcome kids and the market generally knows
this." The Royal Plantation resort is open only to adults, 18 and
over. Winter rates start at $410 per person, per night.
• The new moniker for the Ritz-Carlton, Rose Hall, Jamaica is the
Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Jamaica. Martin
Nicholson, general manager, said the new name "highlights the
resort's key facilities."
• Malliouhana resort in Anguilla reopens Nov. 1, following its
annual closing, with a 15,000-square-foot oceanfront spa which will
offer a selection of therapeutic and beauty massages and
• Elegant Hotels Group retained Lexington Services to handle global
reservations (GDS and online) on behalf of its six Barbados hotels:
Colony Club, Coconut Creek, Crystal Cove, The House, Tamarind Cove
and Turtle Beach Resort.
CUBA TRAVEL Services opened an office in Las
Vegas to provide travel services for Cuban-Americans and others who
qualify to visit Cuba under U.S. Treasury regulations. Cuba Travel
Services offers weekly charter flights from Los Angeles and Miami
PENCIL IT IN
• Bahamas World Music & Jazz Festival, Nov. 6 to 10,
• World Jam Golf Pro-Am, Dec. 1 to 8, Montego Bay, Jamaica.