Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: Feb. 26, 2004

THE CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION will launch its Doitcaribbean.com booking engine for hotel accommodations March 1. The booking engine will feature a travel agent module and an Interactive Trip Planner. Later this year, the site will expand to include bookings for villas, car rentals, transfers, attractions and restaurants, according to CTO officials. Cruises and links with scheduled and charter airlines "are under consideration," according to Jean Holder, CTO's secretary general. More than 400 hotels have signed up for the booking engine, which is available to hotels in CTO member countries, provided they are approved by the local tourist board or hotel association. Hotel rates pay 14% commission to CTO chapter agents and 10% to all others.

SEABORNE AIRLINES, based in St. Croix, and the Road Town Fast Ferry, based in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, launched the Road Town Connection package Feb. 23 that offers a high-speed connection between St. Croix and Tortola for $150 roundtrip. Omer ErSelcuk, Seaborne's chief marketing officer, said the two-hour connection includes a Seaborne flight from St. Croix to St. Thomas and a 50-minute ferry ride to Road Town, Tortola. Departures from St. Croix are 7:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 3 p.m.; return trips leave Tortola at 7 a.m., 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Seaborne plans to extend the program to Old San Juan in March. For details, visit www.seaborneairlines.com.

EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, travelers from the U.S. and Canada visiting Barbados will be required to carry a valid passport under new security rules issued by the Barbados government. The new rule does not apply to in-transit cruise passengers who will be permitted to go ashore and return to the ship using their ship's magnetic ID card. Passports, however, will be required for cruise passengers on trips that begin or end in Barbados.

ROLODEX
• Jorge Pesquera vacates his position as CEO of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau Feb. 27 and will move to Aruba as president and CEO of the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association, replacing Horace Hord who is retiring. Pesquera was with the PRCB for 10 years and served as CEO since July 2001. Puerto Rico's new convention center, set to open in mid-2005, just snagged the 129th General Conference of the National Guard Association of the U.S. in September 2007. The seven-day convention is expected to attract more than 4,000 attendees who will pump approximately $3 million into San Juan's coffers.
• Chris Sharpless Jr., former program director for the Caribbean Hotel Association Charitable Trust, joined Rockwell Tours in Hollywood, Fla., as director of business development.

PENCIL IT IN
• 35th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, March 13, Christiansted, St. Croix.
• American Express Puerto Rico Open, March 15 to 21, Costa Caribe Golf and Country Club, Ponce, Puerto Rico. For details, visit www.prga.org.
• Fun in the Son Gospel Spring Festival, March 18 to 21, Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
• 31st Annual International Rolex Regatta, March 26 to 28, St. Thomas Yacht Club, St. Thomas. Call (340) 775-6320 for information.
• 7th Annual Cayman Islands International Fishing Tournament, April 17 to 25, Cayman Islands Yacht Club, Grand Cayman.
• Antigua Sailing Week, April 25 to May 1, Antigua. For details, visit www.sailingweek.com.
• Cashew Festival, May 7 to 9, Crooked Tree Village (northwest of Belize City), Belize. For details, call (800) 627-0686.

WHOOPS!
SunSwept Resorts operates The BodyHoliday at LeSport and Rendezvous in St. Lucia and LaSource in Grenada, each offering the Preferred Travel Agents program booking incentives. Incentives include $100 bonuses for seven-night, double occupancy bookings at any of the three properties or $50 bonuses for seven-night, single occupancy bookings at The BodyHoliday or LaSource only. Incorrect information appeared in the Feb. 19 Caribbean E-Letter.

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