By NATARIO McKENZIE Tribune Business Reporter nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net THE Bahamas recorded a 25 per cent increase in year-over-year bookings across all Expedia travel sites, ranking fourth among Caribbean destinations, with the most significant bookings growth occurring in the 2011 fourth quarter. Expedia, which is the world's largest largest full service online travel agency, has reported a 12 per cent increase in room nights booked to the Caribbean in the last quarter of 2011 on its more than 100 Expedia and Hotels.com-branded travel booking sites. Expedia formed new partnerships throughout the Caribbean region during 2011, adding nearly 120 Caribbean properties to its portfolio throughout the year. Demetrius Canton, Expedia's director of market management for the Caribbean, said: "It is highly beneficial for our hotel partners in the Caribbean to participate in vacation package offerings as a strategic merchandising tool, which is one of the most solid value propositions the company has to offer. "Expedia vacation packages enable hotels to bundle their rates with flights or car rentals, allowing hotels to maintain rate integrity, while attracting travellers who typically have extended booking windows and longer lengths of stay. It's truly a win-win proposition for hotels and consumers, who benefit with a completely customised vacation package that best fits their travel needs." According to Expedia, destinations in the Caribbean with the most significant year-over-year bookings growth across all Expedia travel sites worldwide include Trinidad & Tobago, with a 46 percent increase in bookings; the Dominican Republic, with a 40 per cent increase; and the Bahamas with a 25 per cent increase in bookings. Curacao showed a 21 per cent increase, Turks & Caicos an 18 percent increase, and St Lucia, a 15 per cent increase. The company said that through its platform, Caribbean hotels achieved growth in bookings during the fourth quarter of 2011 from several key international markets. Expedia said there was a 12 per cent increase in bookings to the Caribbean from the US; a 31 per cent increase in bookings from the UK; a 22 per cent increase in bookings from Italy; a 37 per cent increase in bookings from Germany; and a 44 per cent increase in bookings from Brazil. Expedia delivered more than one million room nights to the region in just the first three quarters of 2011. In a recent interview with Tribune Business, Mr Canton noted that room nights on the books for the Bahamas for 2012 were pacing ahead 30 per cent year-over-year, and might hit the 200,000 room night mark if the pace is maintained. According to Mr Canton, the Bahamas represents about 8 per cent of Expedia's overall Caribbean business.


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