Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: July 3, 2002

THERE IS SOME concern that the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando may not have enough hotels within walking distance to satisfy the organizers of some major industry shows planned after 2006. These organizers were counting on thousands of additional rooms coming on line in conjunction with the 1.1 million-square-foot expansion of the center, set for completion in May 2003. The expansion will bring the center's total space to 2.1 million square feet. According to Tom Ackert, executive director of the center, the events of Sept. 11 worsened tourism's economic outlook, especially for venture capital lenders and others, which in turn caused Hilton, Hyatt and Peabody projects to be delayed. The 2,500-room Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel project near the center is planned to open in 2007, instead of its previous target of 2005.

MEANWHILE, IN MIAMI, a task force organized by the city's Downtown Development Authority began researching sites where a midsize convention center could be constructed to meet the future needs of the area. Recommendations are expected to be forthcoming by late August for sites that can accommodate a center of up to 150,000 square feet, an authority spokesman said. At present, the Miami Convention center has 28,000 square feet; the adjacent James L. Knight Center has 16,000 square feet; the Miami Beach Convention Center, not convenient to downtown, has more than 1 million square feet.

THE TAMPA-ST. PETE area made a bid for the 2004 Republican National Convention. If the city is selected, the convention would be held at the Tampa Convention Center. As previously reported, Greater Miami made bids for both the 2004 Republican and Democratic conventions. Orlando, meanwhile, may consider bidding for one or both of the political conventions in 2008, Tom Ackert, executive director of the Orlando-Orange County Convention Center said.

• American Airlines on Aug. 1 will begin nonstop service with a daily flight between Boston and Fort Lauderdale and will add a second daily nonstop between Boston and Orlando.
• Continental Airlines on Dec. 14 will reinstate Newark-Daytona Beach service using Embraer 50-seat regional jets, thanks to the airport receiving a federal grant to help it attract carriers. Continental suspended the service -- flown with larger jets -- after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

HAS TRAVEL REALLY REBOUNDED? That will be the topic of a travel industry panel convening during the grand opening of the 1,000-room Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando at 3 p.m. on July 10. Participants are Mark Brown, executive vp-association and club services of AAA; Kathy Sudeikis, vp of ASTA's executive board, Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels; Bill Peeper, president of the Orlando-Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau; Fred Lounsberry, national chair of the Travel Industry Assn. of America, and senior vp-sales for the Universal Recreation Group.

• Prime Hospitality Corp. completed the sale of its 105-unit Jupiter Wellesley Inn to Jupiter Hotel LLC. The hotel will continue to be operated as a Wellesley Inn under a 20-year franchise agreement.
• A $165 nightly minimum rate is extended by Marriott's Villas at Doral (adjacent to the Doral Golf Resort) through Aug. 29. There are 244 new two-bedroom, two-bath villas available and guests have use of the Doral's golf and tennis facilities and its Blue Lagoon water recreation area. Agents earn 8% or 10% pay, depending on their participation in Marriott's Hotel Excellence Program. For information, call (800) VILLAS-9.
• The Holiday Inn Family Suites Resort, Lake Buena Vista, offers commissionable Senior Saver$ rates (including breakfast) for the rest of the year. Rates vary with age, with those ages 50 to 69 paying the $89 maximum starting rate. For information, call (877) 387-5437.

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