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Blue skies ahead for Caribbean Tourism

The Caribbean is quietly confident that tourism is heading for strong recovery this year as airlines…

The Caribbean is quietly confident that tourism is heading for strong recovery this year as airlines add more capacity and properties continue to expand and develop, to satisfy holidaymakers` demand for the region.

Julia Hendry, Caribbean Tourism Organisation director of marketing for Europe said: While the economic conditions in the travel industry have been incredibly difficult for everyone at every level, we are encouraged by signs of confidence in business to the Caribbean. The people of the Caribbean are delighted to be able to welcome more British travellers to enjoy a safe and relaxing holiday in one of our 32 islands and nations.

British Airways is increasing the number of weekly flights to Bermuda from the UK, from four to five, as of June 2004. Flights will depart on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. All these services will have premium economy, World Traveller Plus and flat beds in Club World.

Bmi has announced plans for a new route from the UK to the Caribbean, starting in November 2004. Destinations under consideration include Barbados, St. Lucia and Antigua. The airline will operate three or four flights a week, year round, with a three class configuration of business class, premium economy and economy.

In response to customer demand, BWIA is introducing non-stop flights from Manchester to St Lucia, starting with one weekly flight in February increasing to twice weekly in June 2004. In addition, as of February, BWIA will fly from London Heathrow to Trinidad direct once weekly.

The number of exclusive villas for rental on Mustique is increasing. Toucan Hill, a newly constructed villa, offers guests a full staff of chef, butler and two maids. The refurbishment of Yemanja, also on the island favoured by royalty and celebrities, is due for completion in 2004; the property is perched 300 metres above the ocean with 360degree views and incorporates natural boulders into the structure.

A new UK charter operated by Air Britannia will make its inaugural flight from Manchester to St Lucia in November 2004. The island has never before had flights out of Manchester, a development which will make St. Lucia more accessible to areas of the UK market such as Scotland and northern England. The island is also promoting its INNtimate St Lucia programme of smaller hotels and inns.

The Grenadines is preparing for the 2004 opening of Caribbean newcomer Raffles

International on Canouan Island. The property was previously known as Carenage

Bay Beach and Golf Resort and is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment.

In November 2003, in association with the tour operator Golden Caribbean, Excel

Airways introduced twice weekly services between London Gatwick and the Caribbean islands of Grenada, Tobago and St Kitts.

Puerto Rico welcomed 18% more UK visitors in 2003 than in 2002, an increase of 792 travellers.

BonairExel, a new carrier in Bonaire, began service in August 2003 linking Aruba and Curacao. The airline has plans to add a service to St. Maarten.