(VI Consortium) ST. THOMAS — As far back as the cruise industry goes, St. Thomas has been one of its most visited destinations. Charlotte Amalie, with a waterfront seemingly tailor-made for tourists, and two ports that have for years welcomed millions of visitors from around the world, has maintained thousands of tourism-related jobs.

But attractions that intrigued tourists in the 1970s, 80s, 90s and even early 2000s, no longer carry the luster they once did, and as the Virgin Islands government, administration after next, has failed to take the necessary steps in revamping the tourism product, cruise calls have diminished, with St. Thomas seeing a big drop through 2018.

Cruise industry experts, standing in front of community members and government officials at the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort here on Thursday night, spoke candidly about the territory’s current position in the cruise line business, telling local officials that the territory needs to either innovate or go home, according to Senate President Myron Jackson, who spoke with The Consortium at length following the hourslong panel, hosted by Governor Kenneth Mapp.

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(Caribbean 360 News) New York, United States – JetBlue is expanding its Mint premium service on Caribbean flights next year.

It’s adding a second Saturday seasonal round-trip flight between New York and St Maarten, starting January 13; between Boston and Aruba and between Boston and St Maarten, from February 17.

Additionally, Mint service between both New York and Boston to Aruba will operate daily between February 15 and 26.

All seasonal Mint routes in the Caribbean operate through April 2018.

JetBlue currently operates year-round Mint service between New York and Barbados, New York and Grenada, and New York and St Lucia.

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(Reuters) - Sears Holdings Corp's shares soared 20 percent after the struggling retailer said it would sell its Kenmore home appliances on Amazon.com and integrate the brand's smart gadgets with the online giant's Alexa digital assistant.

The deal will expand the distribution reach of Kenmore products, potentially giving a fillip to the company's sales, which have been falling for years amid intensifying competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Amazon.

Syncing "smart" Kenmore appliances, such as connected room air conditioners, with Alexa, will allow users to control the gadgets with voice commands.

Sears joins an increasing number of retailers and manufacturers, including Whirlpool Corp, Ford Motor Co and Starbucks, which are integrating their products with Alexa as they look to garner sales through the popular digital assistant.

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(Antigua Observer) The management of the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa has acceded to the request of the Antigua & Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) and will be reducing the period of temporary closure from five months to three.

The resort originally announced that it would close for renovations in September and the process would last for up to five months.

In a letter to the union dated July 20th, General Manager of the Sandals Group Gaurav Sindhi, indicated that, “In the interest of our team members and all stakeholders concerned, Sandals Resorts International intends to make every effort to reduce the period of repairs to three months, and we are targeting a December 17, 2017 reopening of Sandals Grande Antigua”.

The union was also informed, in the letter, of a meeting between the company’s Chief Operations Officer Shawn Dacosta, Prime Minister Gaston Browne and the Cabinet of Antigua & Barbuda on Wednesday.

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(BVI News) The standoff between the government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the cash-strapped BVI Airways appears far from over, despite both parties earlier declaring that they were trying to settle the impasse.

The dispute follows an agreement through which the BVI government contributed $7 million towards the private airline’s efforts to start direct flights between the BVI and Miami in the United States.

But the airline is now maintaining that it does not have enough money to start flying, adding that its financial challenges were compounded by delays experienced in attaining the necessary regulatory approvals.

There is uncertainty as to whether the BVI government will pump more funds into the carrier. Premier Smith did not make a declaration one way or the other when he yesterday issued his second press statement since the dispute became public.

But the premier yesterday reminded BVI Airways that the government and people of the BVI are waiting for it to fulfil its end of the deal and commence service.

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