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U.S. Economy Woes Helping Caribbean?
Agents, if you specialize in both Europe and the Caribbean, start pitching the islands to Europe travelers. Because the Caribbean dollar has remained stable and the Euro hasn’t, more U.S. travelers are opting to travel to the Caribbean over Europe.
“The way things are now, if you want to take that trip to Europe you took last year, you’ll be paying about 25 percent more this year,” Peter Odle, president of Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA), told Travel Agent at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (CHTIC). “So, I think people are leaning toward the Caribbean instead.”
Odle, owner of Mango Bay resort in Barbados, says the key is to maintain high standards and to ensure there is adequate airlift nearby. The key for travel agents to avoid losing business is to stay on top of the hottest deals, he says. This is a notion that was also shared at the Tianguis Turistico 33, which we covered in Acapulco, Mexico. “If you are a travel agent, you need to start working harder than you ever have in your life,” Odle said. “You can’t just sit around and wait for the business to come to you. Agents need to do all the research and find the best deals. The deals are what people are looking for now and that’s where the money is.”
Bermuda to Host 13th Annual CHITC in April
Always a popular destination, Bermuda has laid low for the last year or two. But all signs are pointing to a major marketing push that could put this vacation spot in the forefront of beach destinations.
Travel Agent was on hand at the opening reception of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (CHTIC) in Trinidad when Sen. Allen Chastanet, prime minister of tourism and civil aviation for St. Lucia, mentioned Bermuda as a destination he expects to thrive really soon. The following day, it was announced that Bermuda will host the 13th annual CHTC next year from April 14-16 at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.
Nikki Eyes Antigua
Travel Agent sat down with Michael Register, an executive vice president with Nikki Beach Hotels and Resorts, in Trinidad when he told us that Nikki is on the verge of signing a deal to build a property on Antigua.
Last month, Nikki announced plans for a Grenada property. The group plans to build a total of 15 properties in the Caribbean. Register says details haven’t been ironed out yet for the Antigua property, but expectations are for about 75 to 125 rooms.
Travel to St. Vincent and The Grenadines Drops
Whereas most delegates at the Caribbean Hotel and Investment Conference in Trinidad reported no negative effects on travel to the Caribbean, the Hon. Glen Beache, minister of tourism, youth and sports for St. Vincent and The Grenadines, told Travel Agent his destination is experiencing a drop due to the struggling U.S. economy.
In a one-on-one interview, Beache told us that the destination has suffered a 4 percent drop from this time last year. Whereas that number is still considerably low, Beache says it’s all relative. “A 4 percent drop for us is like a 20 percent drop everywhere else,” he said. “We are a small destination, so 4 percent is a lot. There’s really nothing we can do at this point expect wait for the U.S. economy to hopefully get better.” But help is on the way as construction will begin next month on St. Vincent and The Grenadines’ first international airport. It is expected to be completed by 2011. “We need better airlift, so we think when we have the airport, travel will be booming again,” he said.
Princess Announces Caribbean, Mexico Itineraries for 2009-2010
Princess Cruises announced Tuesday a new season of cruises to the Caribbean and Mexico’s Riviera Maya. In the Caribbean, Princess will sail six ships on 13 itineraries with 129 departures visiting more than 25 ports in the islands.
Ruby Princess will take over the line's 10-day eastern and southern Caribbean itineraries, offering some of the less-visited ports in the region. Emerald Princess sails on the line's eastern Caribbean itinerary and Crown Princess will feature the western Caribbean with an enhanced itinerary now featuring the island of Roatan, Honduras. Caribbean Princess continues to sail on alternating seven-day Southern Caribbean sailings from San Juan. Grand Princess returns with an extensive 14-day Caribbean Collection route and Sea Princess will again sail on 14-day voyages from Barbados. Sapphire Princess will be sailing on the seven-day Mexican Riviera route from Los Angeles and Star Princess will be cruising on 10-day voyages from San Francisco.
St. Maarten Resorts Offers May and June FAMs
Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino and Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort Casino are introducing FAM rates for May to June, starting at just $75 per night. The $75 FAM rates at Sonesta St. Maarten resorts are for US travel agents only, based on double occupancy, and are available for travel now through June 30. Agents must present valid IATA card and participate in resort site inspection to qualify for FAM rates. All-inclusive upgrades are available for additional price. Visit www.sonesta.com/stmaarten.
St. Martin Resort Offers Savings for Property’s Opening
Radisson St. Martin Resort, Marina & Spa, scheduled to open in August 2008, has launched an Introductory Special to celebrate its grand opening. Guests reserving a stay at the resort will receive the fourth night free in addition to complimentary breakfast daily. With this discount applied to a four night stay, average rates begin at about $225 per night. The offer applies to bookings made and stays completed by December 18.
Anguilla Resort Offers Discount
The Arawak Beach Inn in Anguilla, is offering a rate of $125 per room, per night for travel from June through October. Many of the rooms on the island are usually priced at about $1,000 or more per night. Arawak has 17.