Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: October 4, 2001

CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION officials called a strategy session at New York's Marriott Marquis Oct. 2 to brainstorm with Caribbean tourist offices and hotels regarding initiatives to jumpstart travel to the Caribbean. Proposals included co-op events, discounting hotel rates and piggybacking efforts of individual island destinations into regional promotions. CTO and the Caribbean region plan to have a "large" presence at the rescheduled ASTA congress, now set for Nov. 4 to 7 in New York, according to a spokesman.

ONE HOTEL that introduced a special rate in the aftermath of Sept. 11 is Bolongo Bay Beach Club in St. Thomas. Its Red, White & Blue Sale features rates from $37.50 per person, per night, double through Dec. 15. Aqua Action Dive Center, also in St. Thomas, offers a $25 discount on all dives to Jan. 2.

PUERTO RICO TOURISM CO., stressing its proximity to the mainland and its full compliance with new federal safety regulations at airports, launched a newspaper campaign in 15 key U.S. markets under the banner "Puerto Rico, Open Arms. Puerto Rico, We're right next door." The ads appear in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. over the next three weeks, after which PRTC will launch its winter promotional campaign.

TOURISM CORP. BONAIRE and several of the island's hotels launched the "We Are Here For You" promotion featuring hotel deals and travel incentives. Similar promotions are planned by Barbados, the Netherlands Antilles, Antigua & Barbuda and the Dominican Republic. The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism already launched a consumer ad campaign in South Florida that focuses on the ongoing American Express Getaway promotion, bookable only through travel agents. Other Caribbean destinations are expected to announce plans.

THE FIRST Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism takes place Oct. 6 to 10 at Beaches Grande Sport resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The event, which was planned before the Sept. 11 attacks, now will focus on the impact of terrorism on the region's economy, among other issues. Speakers include Ralph Taylor, president of the Caribbean Hotel Association; Gordon "Butch" Stewart, chairman of Sandals Resorts; Allen Chastanet, Air Jamaica's senior vice president of marketing and sales, and Peter Greenberg, travel editor of NBC's "Today" show.

AIR JAMAICA cut midweek roundtrip economy fares up to 40% from Miami, New York/Newark, Baltimore and Washington D.C. to Barbados, Grenada and St. Lucia for travel booked by Oct. 15 and completed by Dec. 15. Fares require a three-day minimum stay. Service from Washington to Barbados begins Nov. 15.

PUERTO RICO'S newest hotel is the 174-unit Embassy Suites Hotel Dorado del Mar Beach & Golf Resort in Dorado on the north coast, about 30 miles west of Luis Munoz Marin Airport in San Juan. The oceanfront all-suite property offers golf, meeting space and in-room Internet access.

THE STRAW MARKET in Nassau, Bahamas, reopened following a fire Sept. 4 that destroyed the market and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism offices. The temporary Straw Market quarters are located one block from the former site; the government plans to rebuild the original market.

WYNDHAM'S NEWEST Caribbean property is the 165-room Sapphire Beach Club in St. Maarten. The branding deal was signed Sept. 27 and takes effect Dec. 1. The hotel chain currently has two properties in Puerto Rico, one each in Aruba, Jamaica, St. Lucia and St. Thomas.

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