SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The controversial lodging reservations system
that California offers on its toll-free lines and Web site is here
to stay, according to Caroline Beteta, the new executive director
of the California Travel and Tourism Commission and director of the
state's Division of Tourism.
Beteta said the res system serves consumers who are attracted to
the site, which she said receives 1.7 million visits per month.
Beteta, in her prior role as deputy secretary of commerce for
the tourism division, was instrumental in striking the compromise
between the division, which had plans for a lodging service
contract with BASS and WorldRes, and the California Coalition of
Travel Organizations, representing ASTA chapters and other agent
groups that opposed the contract.
After hearings before the Assembly, the state dropped its
endorsement. A revised plan was put back in service, privately
operated by the California Hotel and Motel Association and the
California Travel Industry Association.
Among the revisions, firms that meet the state's criteria can
offer booking services through the Web site, and travel agent
groups have the opportunity to set up links to the call center and
site, which they haven't done.
Beteta, who is overseeing the first self-assessment of the state
tourism industry and a $12 million marketing budget, said she will
meet each quarter of the year with a group of agents and others to
discuss the program, adding that she believes the core issues have
Meanwhile, Beteta has turned her attention to many other
projects in the "dynamic" new public-private partnership created by
the self-assessment program.
Among them is a 40-minute IMAX film and a traveling exhibit that
will be shown in Europe and in California, produced by the creators
of the IMAX movie "Everest."
The tourism department said it expects the film to be shown in
100 theaters and have an attendance of 13 million viewers within
the first five years.
In conjunction with the release of the film, the promotion will
include premiere nights for the industry, distribution of a travel
planner, the creation of California Experience travel packages and
more than $30 million in promotional support from corporate
Beteta also said the state has allocated $50,000 to build a
California Travel Agent Specialist program, providing
Internet-based training for agents who want to become California
She said she welcomes input from agents and hopes to have the
specialist program ready for next year.