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Aerial skyways lead to Bahamas and Jamaica

Bevan Springer | 2/16/2012, 4:44 p.m.
Jamaica's Butch Stewart picks Almond in Barbados

NEW YORK (Jan. 19, 2012)-The Caribbean is girding itself for two major events this weekend-one in the Bahamas brings together the major players in the region's tourism industry and the other gathers leading world music stars in Jamaica.

In the Bahamas, hundreds of travel and tourism stakeholders will descend on Paradise Island for the 30th anniversary edition of Caribbean Marketplace, the biggest travel trade event of the year.

To be held at the Atlantis Resort Jan. 22-24, Caribbean Marketplace, produced by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, offers wholesalers and tour operators the opportunity to meet with hoteliers and attraction and destination officials to plan and prepare packages to accommodate potential vacationers.

A buzz of anticipation has been created by the attendance of two new ministers of tourism following elections in the important destinations of St. Lucia and Jamaica, the results of which toppled the ruling parties there.

Saint Lucia's new minister of tourism, heritage and creative industries, Lorne Theophilus, will lead a strong delegation from the Eastern Caribbean nation, while Dr. Wykeham McNeill, Jamaica's minister of tourism and entertainment, will spearhead Jamaica's contingent to the trade show.

A Cuba-trained physician and longtime parliamentarian, McNeill is no stranger to the tourism portfolio, having served in the industry for many years, including as minister of state in the Ministry of Tourism.

At the conclusion of Caribbean Marketplace, some of the delegates will head to Montego Bay, Jamaica, for the 16th edition of "Jamaica Jazz and Blues: The Art of Music," Jan. 26-28.

To be held during the celebration of Jamaica's 50th anniversary of independence, the opening night of the festival is dedicated to the rich sounds that have shaped Jamaica's music over the past 50 years. It will feature ska, rocksteady, dancehall and reggae, the island nation's influential contributions to world music.

Set to perform on the all-Jamaica opening night are Shaggy, Richie Stephens and Gentleman, John Holt, Yellow Man, Half Pint, Marcia Griffiths, Lloyd Parkes and We the People Band, George Nooks, Luciano, Mykal Rose, AJ Brown, Pluto Shervington, Etana, Chris Martin, Marcia Barrett of Boney M, Derrick Morgan, Assassin of Agent Sasco and Byron Lee's Dragonaires.

The headliner for the festival is the global superstar Celine Dion, from Canada, while other performers include Cee Lo Green; Nicole Henry; Heads of State featuring Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant; Jully Black; Earl Klugh; the Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards; Destra; and Tessanne Chin and Tami Chynn.