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Michael Jackson’s death hurts travel sellers

(Travel agents, Tour operators) Permanent link

With the sudden death of Michael Jackson, travel companies are faced with refunding concert tickets that were purchased as part of London packages.

Fifty concert dates were scheduled for London's O2 Arena, starting July 13. Thousands of tickets were sold by companies including Superbreak, Thomson Experience and Lastminute.com, according to a report in the U.K.’s Travel Trade Gazette (TTG).

Superbreak’s Ian Mounser told TTG that about 500 concert packages had been sold through travel agents. Mounser said he believed that many Michael Jackson fans still would come to London and spend money on other entertainment, such as West End theater.

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Promoting travel .... and the national anthem

(Government) Permanent link

Report from Washington:

In the world’s greatest deliberative body on June 18, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) sought to amend the Travel Promotion Act by adding thereto a proposed “STAR-SPANGLED BANNER AND WAR OF 1812 BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION ACT,” which has something to do with the fact that Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Baltimore, which is in Maryland, which elected Cardin to the world’s greatest deliberative body, which didn’t pass the Travel Promotion Act on June 18.

Addendum: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) submitted an amendment titled “Automobile Dealer Economic Rights Restoration.”

Ends this report.

Now it's no shoes in the bins?

(Airports, Security) Permanent link

I encountered the newest irritant in air travel today. Going through security at Newark Airport, I was shedding a jacket; unpacking a laptop; unbuckling a belt; removing my bracelets; securing the tab on my ziplock, one-quart, see-through, plastic goodie bag; and hefting my carry-on bag on the conveyor belt.

I was trying to do this speedily and efficiently so I would not hold up the people behind me who also were undressing and unpacking.

I dumped my sandals in one of the bins and started to move through the magnetic archway or whatever it is called.
A TSA person yelled at me. "Put your shoes on the conveyor. Don’t put them in a bin. You know that."

Actually, I did not know that. When I flew two weeks ago, my shoes went in the bin like always.

So I put them on the belt, standing there in my bare feet and trying not to think of the germs and yuk I was collecting on my pedicured toes. I only wear socks in winter but I should stash a pair for this travel scenario.

A strap on one of my sandals got caught somewhere inside that black hole on the belt. The machine stopped. Someone in authority peered in, yanked the offending strap and glared at me.

"No, that was not my fault, you little twerp," I thought.

I was collecting my gear at the other end when the machine stopped again. Shoelaces from a pair of size 13 Reebok’s had gotten caught, just like my sandal strap.

The sneakers were extricated but the laces emerged a bit frayed at the end. The owner was not happy.

It was bad enough when tweezers and nail files were seized but we all got used to that or just did not carry them anymore.

But the shoe thing really annoys me.

-- Gay Nagle Myers

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Media an easy target for swine flu scare

(Mexico) Permanent link

BBC News’ Rajan Datar did a report on how the travel industry reacted to the swine flu outbreak, and he conducted interviews at the World Travel and Tourism Council's global summit in Florianopolis, Brazil, in mid-May. (Click to watch it.)

WTTC President Jean-Claude Baumgarten blamed the media for sensationalism and the subsequent plummet in travel bookings. "We definitely were not able to overpower the strength of the media," he said.

ArnieDatar got both sides of the story, and the other side was offered by Travel Weekly's own Arnie Weissmann.

"Government and private industry has given us plenty to report," said Travel Weekly's editor in chief. "I don’t think we've had to go digging too much or stirring things up too much.

"Nobody seems to complain when we say that Mexico has done a very good job containing the flu. Nobody's complaining that we reported that the WHO said it's okay to travel."

From travel suppliers' point of view, controlling what's written or said in the media, particularly social media like Twitter and blogging, is a fruitless endeavor, Weissmann said. But he did recommend that companies and organizations use social media effectively to get their message out there.

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