PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- Hotel developments, new air service and festivals highlight recent news from Trinidad and Tobago, according to Carla Noel, the nation's minister of tourism.

Noel said the nation's Parliament recently approved legislation to provide incentives for the development of new hotels and the redevelopment of existing properties in the two-island country.

"Tourism now accounts for more than 3% of our gross national product," Noel said. "We see that figure increasing as more emphasis is placed on the training of tourism professionals."

Current hotel developments include the 14-unit Stonehaven Villas, which was set to open Aug. 1 on Tobago.

Designed in the style of an 18th century French plantation, the retreat features 14 three-bedroom villas complete with kitchens, living rooms, verandas, wooden sun decks and private infinity pools.

An introductory rate of $350 per night for up to four guests is valid through Dec. 15.

In addition, the commission is 15%.

To book, call (868) 639-0102 or visit the Web site at www.stonehavenvillas.com.

The 47-room Blue Haven Hotel on Robinson Crusoe Beach on Tobago will reopen Oct. 28 after an extensive renovation program.

The property originally hoped to open this summer, but heavy rains last spring delayed construction and pushed the opening to the fall.

Tobago's largest property, the 200-room Hilton Tobago, had its soft opening July 16.

The $34 million project is part of Tobago Plantations, a development that includes an 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course (which will open by the end of the year), villas, a marina, a shopping center and a wildlife refuge.

Facilities at the Hilton include two restaurants, a ballroom, a health club, a pool and pool bar, water sports and a scuba concession.

Opening rates valid to Dec. 19 are $165 per room, per night, double, in a standard room and $245 in a one-bedroom suite.

To book, call (800) HILTONS.

Noel said that Air Jamaica launched daily nonstop service from Kingston, Jamaica, to Port of Spain, Trinidad, on July 3 with A320 aircraft seating 150 passengers.

Service to Tobago will start later this year with EC Xpress, Air Jamaica's alliance partner.

BWIA launched 737 service from Port of Spain to Atlanta on July 9 and announced an alliance including a code share with United Airlines at Washington (Dulles) on July 26.

American Airlines selected Trinidad as its new regional reservations headquarters for the Caribbean.

Noel reported that festivals continue to be a heavy draw for visitors year round. Tobago Fest, Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, is the island's equivalent of Trinidad's Carnival celebration.

The World Steelband Music Festival takes place Oct. 10 to 21 in Trinidad.

Trinidad and Tobago will host several World Cup soccer qualifying matches next year.

Trinidad and Tobago Tourist Office
Phone: (888) 595-4TNT (voice mail) or (212) 682-7272.
Web: www.tidco.co.tt

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