Travel Confidential: National Park Service eyes cuts

ccording to a report from the National Park Service obtained by TC, the service is looking into a "recovery plan" that would include major cutbacks in the face of huge deficits.

The cuts, to be made over the next four years, would affect law-enforcement patrols, river rangers, lifeguards, tours and special events as well as waterfront safety programs, horse patrols and school outings. In addition, there will be reductions in the hours, days and seasons of public access and some park closings. A spokeswoman for the Northeast Region of the National Park Service said the report was "an exercise" based on a flat budget but, in fact, the budget for 2004 increased 5%. Although there will be "further belt-tightening," she said, "we're going to have to figure out how to keep everything going on less."

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Executives at two large, regional travel agencies voiced their concerns to TC about Travelport, the Cendant-owned self-booking tool for corporations that is supported by many corporate agencies wired by Galileo, the Cendant-owned GDS.

A server change rendered Travelport nearly unusable for much of January, according to our sources. Although the functionality of the tool has markedly improved since then, one of the executives said his confidence in it is shaky at best. The other executive said his Galileo-wired agency switched from Travelport last year because TRX's technology was better.

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Jean Holder, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, was surprised when he arrived in Havana Feb. 13 for tourism talks, only to find that, overnight, a new minister of tourism had replaced Ibrahim Ferradaz-Garcia.

"I was the first person to meet Manuel Marrero Cruz, the new minister," Holder said. "He was very cordial but very busy." No word on what happened to Ferradaz-Garcia, just that he's been "reassigned." Hmmm.

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Of the two ships that reported gastrointestinal outbreaks, TC is happy to report that neither vessel reported an unusual number of sick guests on the subsequent cruise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vessel Sanitation Program, Holland America Line's Ryndam reported that three passengers came down with gastrointestinal illness, compared with 73 on its Feb. 7 cruise. And the Carnival Celebration counted 19 ill passengers on the cruise following a five-day, Feb. 9 voyage during which 300 guests reported GI symptoms.

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