Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-letter: June 10, 2004

THE CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION, the Caribbean Hotel Assn. and the Florida Caribbean Cruise Assn. shelved their plan to implement last fall's proposal for a $20 head tax on cruise passengers "due to problems regarding legality and compliance," according to CTO Chairman and Bahamas Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe. The proposal, which caused an uproar at the time, was intended to help finance a sustainable fund for Caribbean tourism development. "We will continue to explore means for financing such a fund," Wilchcombe said.

IN OTHER CTO NEWS, Jean Holder, secretary general of the organization since its inception in 1989, will retire Dec. 31. Holder's actual leave-taking will be in mid-September, because of accrued vacation leave. During Caribbean Week in New York City last week, the CTO established a search committee to begin the process of selecting a new secretary general. Wilchcombe said CTO expects to name a new secretary general at its 27th annual Caribbean Tourism Conference, which will take place at the Wyndham Aruba from Oct. 17 to 20. The theme of the conference is: "Caribbean Tourism: Driving Business in the Global Economy."

GORDON "BUTCH" STEWART, chairman of Sandals and Beaches Resorts, formally launched Beaches' sponsorship of and partnership with the award-winning Sesame Street children's program that will bring familiar furry friends such as Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster and Zoe to Beaches resorts in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos, beginning in September. Sesame Street-themed activities will include daily appearances by the show's characters, story times and activities for the kids and parenting seminars for mom and dad. Theme weeks will kick off at Beaches Negril Resort & Spa and Beaches Sandy Bay in Jamaica the weeks of Sept. 5 and 12, at Beaches Boscobel Resort & Golf Club in Ocho Rios, Jamaica Sept. 26 and Oct. 3. Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort & Spa in Providenciales will host themed weeks Oct. 3 and 10. For details, visit www.beaches.com.

THE ANGUILLA TOURIST BOARD formally opened its new U.S. headquarters June 8 in White Plains, N.Y., becoming the first foreign tourist office to establish an office in Westchester County [about 30 minutes north of New York City]. Marie Walker, regional director, heads the office at 246 Central Ave., White Plains, N.Y. 10606, (800) 553-4939. The Web site is www.anguilla-vacation.com. Later this month, Anguilla will launch a new ad and branding campaign with a emphasis on Charming Escapes--16 small hotels, inns and villas that make up most of Anguilla's on-island room inventory.

LODGEPODGE
• First-quarter occupancy figures at the 462-room Jolly Beach Resort in Antigua averaged 74%, besting the 57% rate in the same period last year. The U.S. market accounted for more than 32% of hotel revenue, double what it was in the first quarter of 2001 [considered an appropriate yardstick]. The all-inclusive property added Utsav--meaning "festival of Indian flavor"--to its restaurant lineup and upgraded menus at the other four eateries. Rates start at $140 per person, per night, double through Dec. 20 and cover accommodations, meals, snacks and afternoon tea, house brand beverages, activities and taxes. All rooms are air-conditioned and face the ocean; each has a patio or balcony, cable TV, hair dryer and safe. To book, visit www.jollybeachresort.com.
• Almond Resorts in Barbados offers 30% discounts on stays of three or more nights through Nov. 30. The discount can be combined with the Best of Barbados 2004 program, which features a $200 airfare credit, a free room upgrade, one day's free car rental with the purchase of a four-day rental, and discounts on excursions and attractions, on stays of five or more nights. The Best of Barbados program is in effect through June 30 and from Sept. 7 to Nov. 30. The all-inclusive Almond Beach Club & Spa and Almond Beach Village offer eight restaurants, land and water sports, golf, a Kids Club, spa, conference center, 13 pools and miles of beach. To book, visit www.almondresorts.com.
• Free nights and fireworks are included in Bolongo Bay Beach Club's [St. Thomas] Red, White & Blue package for guests who book a minimum of five nights on the resort's semi-inclusive Continental Plan with July 4 as one of the nights. The package must be booked through the resort's res department at (800) 524-4746 or via e-mail at [email protected]. The name of the promotion must be mentioned at time of booking and is valid on new bookings only. The CP option includes beachfront accommodations, use of non-motorized water sports and an in-pool scuba lesson. Nightly rates are $195 per room, double through Aug. 31. A seven-night CP booking throws in an all-day sail to St. John aboard Heavenly Daze, the resort's 53-foot catamaran with lunch and open bar.

ROLODEX: Tourism pioneer and former Jamaica Tourist Board executive Marcella Martinez has been honored by Jamaica for her contributions to Jamaica's tourism industry. Gov. General Sir Howard Cooke conferred upon Martinez the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander in a special ceremony at Kings House, his official residence in Kingston. Martinez served as JTB's director of public relations and assistant director of tourism during the 1970s, worked in the areas of international relations and tourism marketing, served as a United Nations delegate, a teacher and broadcaster and has headed Marcella Martinez Associates in New York since 1988.

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