Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: September 13, 2001

THE CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION'S annual conference, set for Oct. 15 to 18 in Freeport, Grand Bahamas, is "still a go for the moment," according to Gene Holder, CTO secretary general. CTO "is concerned about our travel partners, many of whom are from the New York and Washington areas, and we will continue to evaluate the situation and assist our partners wherever possible." CTO's New York office in lower Manhattan was safely evacuated on Sept. 11 but remained closed as did the entire downtown area during search and rescue efforts.

CARIBBEAN HOTEL FIRMS adopted various measures for their guests impacted by the air travel ban. Sandals & Beaches Resorts extended complimentary accommodations for guests scheduled to depart but unable to fly out. The six Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean properties offered "distressed passenger rates" through Sept. 18 . These rates are usually applied in times of natural disasters such as hurricanes and represent a 50% discount. Club Med guests are not charged for extra nights while the flight ban is in effect. Guests who are set to arrive through Sept. 23 will not be charged a fee if they cancel, as long as they rebook for a later date.

A FIRE DESTROYED the Straw Market, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism headquarters, stores, restaurants and a bank building in Nassau, Bahamas Sept. 4. More than 500 Straw Market vendors have been located, many along the cruise piers. The British Colonial Hilton, 200 yards from the market, was not damaged. Tourism officials pledged to rebuild the market.

US AIRWAYS filed an application with the Dept. of Transportation for weekly nonstop service to Grenada and St. Kitts & Nevis from its Philadelphia hub. Pending government approval, the proposed weekend flights would begin early next year aboard 120-seat A-319 aircraft. The carrier begins nonstop service between Philadelphia and Barbados on Nov. 3, LaGuardia and Freeport, Grand Bahamas, Nov. 4; Charlotte and Aruba, Nov. 10; Philadelphia and Antigua, Dec. 8, and Philadelphia and St. Lucia, Dec. 15. Charlotte-Cozumel service begins Jan. 12 and Charlotte-Freeport, Grand Bahamas service Feb. 2.

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