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HomeNewsArchivesAPPLE VACATIONS WILL KEEP SENDING TOURISTS

APPLE VACATIONS WILL KEEP SENDING TOURISTS

Oct. 25, 2001 – While the Chicago-based tour operator Apple Vacations has canceled plans to send chartered flights to the territory this winter, the company will continue "serving the Virgin Islands 365 days a year, just like we always have," utilizing regularly scheduled airlines, local Apple representative Joan de Lugo said Thursday.
De Lugo said she was concerned about recent reports that Apple was abandoning the territory for the winter season because of fewer people flying since the Sept. 11 events. "Nothing could be further from the truth," she said. "The Chicago charter is only a small portion of our overall year-round bookings to the V.I."
She said that Apple, which has been doing business with the Virgin Islands for more than a decade, typically brings 350 to 400 visitors a month to St. Thomas and St. John in season on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and U.S. Airways. "The Chicago charter would have brought in about 100 a week," she said.
At least part of the confusion came from an e-mail sent by an Apple product analyst in the company's Chicago headquarters, de Lugo said. That message, sent on Friday to V.I. hoteliers and property managers "was misinterpreted to mean we were cutting out our winter service," she said.
In a Wednesday survey of local hotels, the Source had quoted Richard Doumeng, whose family owns Bolongo Bay Beach Club and Villas, as saying the property was losing 600 room nights to Apple's cancellation.
"I don't know what he is thinking," de Lugo said Thursday. "He will still get our bookings throughout the year."
As to how much Apple's V.I. traffic will be affected this coming season by the nationwide drop-off in air travel, "That's hard to say right now," she said. "But our Chicago office said yesterday that bookings are picking up, and the weather [up north] is turning bad — that's two good signs." In general, she added, "Apple feels optimistic about V.I. travel this season."
St. Croix's Apple representative, H. McLean Douglas, was upbeat, too. "We had a party of six the other day for the Buccaneer Hotel," he said, "and we've been having people since Sept. 11. We just had a couple for the Caravelle Hotel."
Douglas said Apple's St. Croix operation typically gets about 20 guests a month. "The charter cancellation will hurt us," he said, "but we're not really stopped — we have people."

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