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Newsletter: Caribbean, 8/6/08


Basil Smith to Resign as Jamaica Tourism Director


It was announced by the­ ­Jamaica Tourism Board Friday that Basil Smith will step down as Jamaica’s director of tourism in October, citing personal reasons as to why he will be unable to continue to serve in the role held since 2006. Smith was appointed in November of that year, shortly following the departure of Paul Pennicook. Smith is credited with “making strides in adapting new technologies, utilizing the internet to enhance internal and external communications,” according to a written release. Travel Agent was told that a replacement for Smith has yet to be announced.

St. Kitts Tourism Authority Names New CEO

The St. Kitts Tourism Authority announced Tuesday that Rosecita Jeffers has been appointed the new CEO effective as of August 1. A St. Kitts native, Jeffers has operated her own tourism and special events management business on St. Kitts for the past four years.  During that time, she also undertook various key special projects for tourism, including serving as the local consultant liaison to the Boston-based OTF Group, which conducted research in 2006 for the development of St. Kitts’ long term tourism sector strategy.  Prior to her private enterprise experience, Jeffers worked for several years as a member of the management team at the St. Kitts & Nevis Ministry of Tourism.


St. Maarten Resort Offers Agents 13 Percent Commission


­­Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino and Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort Casino are offering travel agents a 13 percent commission on each four-night booking for travel through October 31. Also included is a welcome gift for agents’ clients. Agents will receive the commission after their clients have completed travel. Starting rates at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino are $135 per night.  Rates at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort Casino begin at $150 per night. All-inclusive rates are also available.


Raul Castro's Speech Reiterates Slow Progress for U.S. Travel to Cuba

Although a U.S. government panel has already initiated baby steps to undo travel restrictions to Cuba, agents should not expect any immediate reform from the Caribbean island. Any large hopes for imminent change have been quelled since Cuban President Raul Castro  warned citizens of his country "have to get accustomed to not receiving only good news," Reuters reports.

Castro spoke the discouraging words Saturday in his speech commemorating the 55th anniversary of the start of the Cuban revolution, and stressed austerity for Cuba. The disappointing words were spoken in contrast to last year's July 26 speech, where Castro promised economic reforms while acknowledging that wages were too low. He followed last year's speech with several small but symbolic changes such as allowing Cubans go to tourist facilities that were previously reserved for foreign tourists.

Castro also said that Cuba's military will remain strong in the face of the United States, no matter what the outcome of the upcoming presidential election.

Travel Agent reported on low expectations of any immediate effect Raul Castro would have on travel to Cuba when it interviewed author Christoper P. Baker in February.

Early Booking Bonus on Several Islands


Travelers looking to plan a 2009 ­­Caribbean getaway can save up to $166 per couple per night when they book one of 11 SuperClubs resorts in Jamaica, Curaçao or the Bahamas before September 15.  As part of the bonus, clients get a 20 percent discount on three-night minimum stays at Grand Lido Resorts & Spas, Breezes Resorts, ROOMS Resorts, and Starfish Trelawny, while those who book at Hedonism Resorts will save up to 10 percent.  The double early booking offer is valid on travel between January 2 and December 22, 2009.


Discount Travel Plus Air Credit to Jamaica


­Sandals Resorts is offering a 30 percent discount to clients who book a minimum six-night stay in a Plantation Suite at Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa on Jamaica by September 2 and an air credit of up to $350 per person. The cost is  $338 per couple, per night.


Low Rates at Aruba and Dominican Republic All-Inclusives


­Occidental Hotels & Resorts is offering low rates for fall travel at all-inclusive resorts throughout Aruba and the Dominican Republic. Travelers must book their vacations by August 31 for travel from September 1 through October 31. At the Occidental Grand Punta Cana, Dominical Republic, rates start at starting from $84 and at $192 for the Occidental Grand Aruba.


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