Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: May 22, 2002

TRANSGLOBAL VACATIONS, a Mark Travel company, introduced two summer products out of Minneapolis/St. Paul. The first is a charter program to Orlando using Transmeridien Airlines. The second is a separate tour series to Fort Myers using scheduled Delta flights. The Orlando charters begin on June 19 and continue every Wednesday through Aug. 7, with three-night rates starting at $290 per person, double. The Fort Myers plan operates Mondays July 1 to Aug. 19, with three-night rates starting at $535 per person, double. For information, call (800) 338-2160.

IN DAYTONA BEACH, group overrides are available from both Speed Park Motorsports and the Ocean Walk Resort. Speed Park, an attraction, offers go-kart and dragster rides; it pays 40% commissions on retail price bookings for groups of 10 or more. Tickets cost $6.01 plus tax for go-karts and $19.72 plus tax for Nitro Alley Dragsters. For information, call (386) 253-FAST; or check the Web site Ocean Walk Resort meanwhile pays 20% on group business through 2002. For information, call (386) 238-8744 or check the Web site

KEEPING THE KICKER: Universal Studios Vacations, Orlando, extended its 1% bonus commission policy through June 30 on electronic bookings made through its Web site,, VAX Vacation Access or the GDS, using code UNI. In other news, Universal Orlando, parent of the tour firm, will be closing two rides at its Universal Studios theme park to make room for two new adventures. Closing will be the Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, which will be succeeded in spring 2003 by The Jimmy Neutron Adventure, which stems from the animated movie "Jimmy Neutron Adventure: Boy Genius." In addition, the attraction Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies, will be closing to be replaced in summer 2003 by a 10-minute show based on the animated movie "Shrek."

THE GROWING TREND of adolescent obesity and the need for more interactive family vacations, drew the attention of the Eden Roc Renaissance Resort & Spa, Miami Beach, which added a Family Fitness Camp this summer. New is a two-night Family Fitness package priced at $529 for four persons plus tax and tips. For information, call (800) 468-3571, or check the Web site

VISIT FLORIDA'S preliminary estimates for first-quarter 2002 indicate that 18 million visitors arrived in the state -- a decrease of 4.5% vs. the same period in 2001, but a significant improvement over the 19% decline in arrivals in fourth-quarter 2001. "Although some sectors continue to post losses, the pace of loss has slowed drastically and we expect this positive trend to continue, barring any further shocks to the system," Barry Pitegoff, Visit Florida's vice president of research, said.

THE SEMINOLE COUNTY COMMISSION is planning a 63,000-square-foot conference center, possibly located downtown overlooking Lake Monroe. However, the commission is awaiting advice from the county's Tourist Development Council before proceeding, as the construction of the center might be financed by boosting the tourism tax that funds the council's efforts. It would increase one percentage point to 4%. Once the conference center is agreed upon, the city of Sanford will be seeking an operator for an anchor hotel. Sanford, just north of Orlando, is the southern terminus of the Auto-Train. Orlando-Sanford Airport, meanwhile, is thriving from both domestic scheduled flights and European charters.

GOV. JEB BUSH and local travel interests voiced their opposition to a security-oriented Immigration and Naturalization Service proposal that would limit tourist visas to a maximum of 30 days, with the option of extending the stay for valid reasons. At present, six months is the maximum stay. Among the opponents is the Orlando-Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau. If implemented, the 30-day visa would benefit Spain -- Florida's chief competitor for long-stay U.K. visitors -- and other international destinations.

• The 35th annual Governor's Conference on Tourism is set for Aug. 11 to 13 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, Kissimmee. The conference room rate is $139 per night plus a $10 resort fee, applicable three days before the conference and three days after. Bookings at this rate must be received by July 5. The hotel can be reached at (407) 586-2000; fax, (407) 586-2199. Registration to attend the conference is additional. Call (850) 488-5607, Ext. 322.
• The Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH) will hold its Seventh World Congress Jan. 15 to 19 at the Miami Airport Hilton. Registration to attend is $125 if prepaid by June 30. For information, call (800) 513-1126; or e-mail [email protected].
• ASTA's Northern Regional Conference in 2003 will be held at the Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando from May 1 to 4. The Loews property opens in June.

THE FOOD & WINE Appreciation Weekend is set for the Boca Raton (Fla.) Resort & Club July 12 to 14, with guest chefs from New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Fort Myers on hand, along with 80 winemakers. A two-night related package starting at $495 per person, double, is available, with 10% pay. For information, call the property, (888) 495-BOCA or check the Web site

THE GRAND OPENING for the National Armed Services & Law Enforcement Memorial Museum at 500 Douglas Ave., Dunedin, occurred Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults; $3 for students ages 7 and older. For military, senior citizen and school groups, the admission is $1. Other group discounts for 20 or more are available. For information, call (727) 734-0700.

THE HOLIDAY INN Express Hotel & Suites-Palm Coast opened Monday in Palm Coast, just north of Daytona Beach. The 81-room inn is owned and managed by Silver Lining Ventures and is near Flagler Beach and golf courses. It has a lounge, pool, business center and a meeting room for 40. Its 15 suites have a microwave, refrigerator, TV, two phones and a sofa bed. Included in the rates is a breakfast bar. The address is 200 Flagler Plaza Dr.; phone (386) 439-3939; or check the Web site,

HOT STONE MASSAGE is the latest service offered by the Suncoast Fitness Center at the 390-room Sheraton Sand Key Resort, Clearwater Beach. Visitors have their choice of 60- or 90-minute sessions whereby smooth, heated mineral stones are applied to different areas of the body with long, flowing strokes. Increased circulation is one of the proclaimed benefits. The cost for 60 minutes is $90; for 90 minutes, $115. Commissionable packages can be negotiated with the hotel's sales office, (727) 595-1611. The hotel's Web site is at

NORTHWEST AIRLINES, as part of its summer schedule, will operate one Saturday flight in each direction between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Fort Myers, June 8 through Sept. 2. An Airbus A319 with 124 seats will be used on the route.

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