Another year in the books means another year removed from 2009. Unlike two years ago, when the Caribbean -- and the rest of the world- was seeing drops in tourism arrivals due to the economic downturn, 2011 produced a lot of positive news out the Caribbean region. From another island featured on “The Bachelor” to Insight Cuba’s first legal tours from the U.S. to the forbidden island, Travel Agent brings you our most read Caribbean news of 2011.
Here is this year’s top five:
In January, Anguilla became the latest Caribbean island to reap the benefits from an appearance on the ABC Television Network show, The Bachelor. In 2010, it was St. Lucia that saw a major spike in honeymoons and weddings from its appearance on the popular show.
Also in January, Jamaica officially opened its third international entro point in the form of the Ian Fleming International Airport. The airport was officially opened by then Prime Minister Bruce Golding with a launch event that was attended by Fleming’s nieces, Lucy and Kate, as well as Island Outpost founder and music mogul Chris Blackwell.
In June, Americans finally got a taste of traveling to Cuba when Insight Cuba announced – and then eventually executed – trips from the U.S. to the forbidden island. Insight Cuba, a division of Cross Cultural Solutions, which specializes in short-term volunteer abroad programs, was reauthorized by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to send Americans to Cuba. When the Obama administration reversed the previous administration’s policy and posted new travel regulations allowing People-to-People educational travel, Insight Cuba was among the first to submit its application for a new license.
The People-to-People initiative requires Americans to take part in various cultural experiences in Cuba, essentially, as the name implies, putting them in direct contact with the people of Cuba with hopes of learning about the way of life in the country. It was implemented by President Clinton in 1999 and suspended by President Bush in 2004 before President Obama resurrected the program this January.
In July, the Baleària ferry Pinar del Río announced it would be running a new fast service this summer from Miami to Bimini Island, The Bahamas. The company now runs the Miami-Bimini route on a daily basis (except on Wednesdays) with the fast ferry Pinar del Río. This ship, which sails at a speed of 32 knots, has the capacity to hold 450 passengers, with 80 vehicles in the hold. Furthermore, the Pinar del Rio offers different features such as a bar-cafeteria, a duty-free shop, a mini casino and first-class accommodations, among other features.
In February, Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas became the first ship to call at Historic Falmouth port. Situated between the popular cruise ports of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, Historic Falmouth is the first-ever thematic cruise port and is also a convenient gateway for guests to embark on more than 60 exhilarating land experiences along the north coast of Jamaica.
We hoped you enjoyed this year's roundup of the top stories of the year. Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for more impactful stories in 2012 and beyond. On behalf of Travel Agent magazine and Travel Agent Central, happy holidays!