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Caribbean Asks Congress to Lift Travel Restrictions
We concluded our coverage of the first Annual Caribbean Tourism Summit (ACTS) Tuesday when the Caribbean Tourism Development Company (CTDC) held its closing press conference at the International Trade Center in the Ronald Regan Building. The final tally of delegates was 320.
Sen. Allen Chastanet, Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), said he was pleased with the attendance but expects even more people to attend next year. “When we meet to decide where we will have this next year, I will recommend that we keep it (in Washington, D.C),” he says. “We got so much done here this year, but there are still a lot of doors that need to be opened.”
The major news out of the conference, however, was that delegates met with Congress and asked it to waive the $40 requirement that Caribbean travelers currently incur when vacationing. Delegates also asked that duty-free allowances be raised, and that there be more pre-clearance facilities in the Caribbean. The last request was perhaps the most significant since it would shrink crowds at airports and in turn may result in more flights to the region.
Alan Greenspan Says Caribbean Must Be Patient
The Annual Caribbean Tourism Summit's keynote speaker, Dr. Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board from 1987-2006, told delegates this morning not to expect a quick tourism boom in the Caribbean during a struggling U.S economy. Rather, be patient and treat investments in the region as a long-term process, he says. Greenspan says the Caribbean will not see a dramatic spike in investment in the next two to three years but instead needs to prove it can produce a return for the next 10-15 years before the money “flows there.”
“Don’t pound on doors and say ‘you have to come to the Caribbean for vacations,’” he says. “The problem there is people will slam their doors. You have to show them data, results and people will come.”
Puerto Rico Extends Cruise Incentive Program, Adds More flights
Puerto Rico Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila told media Monday about the passing of a law to expand his administration’s Cruise Incentive Program, which allocates a yearly $10 million fund for the development of Puerto Rico’s maritime industry. If the expansion results in a 20 percent increase in cruise arrivals by June 30, 2011, Vila told media at an ACTS press conference, these incentives will automatically be extended to June 30, 2014.
The Puerto Rico Tourism Company also announced more details about a plan to replace about half of the flights Puerto Rico will lose when American Airlines and American Eagle’s suspension of flights takes effect in September. Airlines, including JetBlue, Air Tran, Continental and Delta, have added service to Puerto Rico from such major cities as New York, Boston, Newark, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. The dates of the flights haven’t been announced yet, but some are slated to begin in September, overlapping with the date of the suspended flights by American, Vila says. The September suspension of flights by some major carriers, including American Airlines and American Eagle, represents a 20 percent reduction (1.2 million seats) to Puerto Rico and a 20 percent reduction (1.4 million seats) to the Caribbean as a whole. Puerto Rico has also been in talks with Spirit Airlines to reach an agreement that will result in additional flights between San Juan, Orlando and New York.
Interview With Enrique De MarchenaKaluche
I just came back from sitting down with the Caribbean Hotel Association’s (CHA) new president Enrique De Marchena Kaluche, who was officially sworn into office on Sunday at the first Annual Caribbean Tourism Summit (ACTS).
“It’s been a long time coming,” said De Marchena Kaluche, who was elected into office about a year ago. “Now, I’m ready to do what needs to be done. It’s a challenging time but I’m ready for it.”
De Marchena Kaluche will serve from now through 2010, which is anticipated to be a crucial time for fixing some of the region’s ongoing flight problems as well as its lack of regional marketing. He told me that the Caribbean Tourism Development Company (CTDC), which is a collaboration of the CHA and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), will meet Saturday to discuss the possibility of forming the first-ever regional marketing fund. The fund would involve the pooling of money from the individual members of the CTO and CHA to promote the region as a whole. No further details have been announced. Although De Marchena Kaluche expects members to be receptive to the idea, he is aware that the actual planning of such a historic fund could be a challenge. “It’s easy for everyone to say ‘yes’ to the idea but not as easy when we are establishing a mechanism and funding strategy,” he said.
De Marchena Kaluche also stressed the importance of lowering flight costs to attract more airlift to the region. Over the past year, several major airlines including Air Jamaica, American Airlines and American Eagle have canceled routes and frequencies because of rising costs. De Marchena Kaluche said delegates need to form a detailed flight plan by July 2 for the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) Heads of State Government meeting in Antigua. De Marchena Kaluch said initial brainstorming would include lowering the costs of flights and possibly lowering, if not entirely waiving, costly immigration taxes that airlines currently incur. “I am a realistic man,” he said. “But I am also a positive man. I know that if we all work together, we can fix all the problems that our region faces.”
Caribbean Tourism Summit: Monsterrat Gets New Airlift
Monsterrat made a splash at the Annual Caribbean Tourism Summit by announcing the addition of Carib Aviation Limited flights from Antigua. The new daily service will officially start on July 1. Flights depart V.C. Bird International Airport in Antigua as early as 8:20 a.m. and will return from Gerald’s Airport in Monsterrat as late as 5 p.m. Visit www.visitmontserrat.com.
Dominca Gets New Flights
Dominica announced Monday the addition of new flights from St. Lucia. The daily service would connect St. Lucia’s Herwanorra Airport and Dominica’s Canefield Airport. Flights will depart Dominica at 12:10 p.m., arriving in St. Lucia at 12:55 p.m. The return flight will leave St. Lucia at 4:05 p.m., arriving at Dominica at 4:50 p.m. The new flights will allow connections to and from various major hubs such as Miami, New York, Atlanta, Toronto and the United Kingdom. Visit www.discoverdominica.com.
Discount Summer Hotel Rates in the Caribbean
From now through October 31, clients can book several Ritz-Carlton Hotels of the Caribbean for a reasonable discount. The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Jamaica starts at $199 a night, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman starts at $299, The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan Hotel, Spa & Casino starts at $209 and The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas starts at $269. Visit www.ritzcarlton.com.
July 4th Special on St. Maarten
For those clients planning to stay over the July 4th holiday, the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino is offering a free night. There will be events at the property’s Oasis Pool between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Some activities include games, dance contests, American trivia and a Coney Island Style Hot Dog Eating Contest. The Palms Grill will be airing ball games on TV and the Ocean Terrace Restaurant is serving an All-American Barbecue for $19.95 per person, plus 15 percent gratuity as their theme dinner buffet. Visit www.sonesta.com/MahoBeach.