SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Coalition of Travel Organizations rebuffed the state division of tourism's offer to modify its controversial hotel booking system and said it will continue to oppose the program.

The coalition, ASTA and ARTA met with John Poimiroo, state director of tourism, to discuss what they see as the state competing with agents for commissionable hotel reservations. Under the program, which was unveiled in late November, bookings are made through a private firm that takes calls from consumers who dial the state's toll-free phone number or consult its Web page.

Coranne Gibson, CCTO president and vice president of Brickroad Travel, of Orange, Calif., said that Poimiroo offered to add to the state's Web site a statement that hotel bookings also are available through travel agents. And he suggested the creation of an agent advisory board to allow agents input to ongoing and future division of tourism projects. Neither of the offers satisfied the CCTO, which wants the state agency to kill the reservations program, Gibson said.

Linda High, ASTA's consumer affairs director, traveled to Sacramento for the meeting. An ASTA spokesman said the meeting left ASTA "hopeful that we can negotiate a solution." An ARTA spokesman called the meeting "a great first step, but it did not offer a solution to the problem. We still believe that this is unfair competition." Poimiroo was unavailable for comment.

Under the contract with BASS Tickets and WorldRes, when consumers book hotel rooms through the services, the state agency receives a 1.5% cut of the commission.

The coalition, which represents two ASTA chapters in the state and other industry organizations, delivered nearly 450 letters of protest over the program from California agents to California Gov. Pete Wilson.

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