Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: September 18, 2002

THE GREATER MIAMI Convention & Visitors Bureau is claiming a victory after voters in Miami-Dade County on Sept. 10 defeated a proposal that would have repealed a 1998 antidiscrimination law that protects the rights of people regardless of their sexual orientation. The measure, which was voted down by a margin of 53% to 47%, could have had negative effects on tourism businesses, according to William Talbert III, president and CEO of the bureau. Talbert said that "this vote against discrimination allows us to say to the gay and lesbian community -- without any question -- that Greater Miami warmly welcomes you." In fact, the area will play host to the American Foundation for AIDS Research in March, with 1,300 attendees expected; to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in November 2003, with 1,300 attendees; and to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educational Network in September 2004, with 1,500 attendees.

ATA VACATIONS, operated by Milwaukee-based Mark Travel Corp., began accepting bookings for three-night and longer Florida vacations departing from Chicago (Midway) on ATA for the period Jan. 6 to Feb. 28. Destinations include Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Naples, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Tampa. The base commission is 10% on both land and bulk air; if published air is used, the air portion is commissionable at 5%. For information, call (800) 442-8952 or check the Web site www.vacationaccess.com or the four major GDSs.

NOW IN THE PLANNING stage is the 90-mile route of the future Florida High Speed Rail link between Orlando and Tampa (phase one of a statewide project). But before service can begin, funding; an environmental impact statement; and selection of an operating system and an operating company will have to be settled. Construction is tentatively set to begin in November 2003, while actual operation of the Orlando-Tampa service is slated for 2007.

LODGEPODGE
• The 16-story landmark Everglades Hotel, in downtown Miami, which opened in 1926, is expected to come under the ownership of Irving, Texas-based LaQuinta Inns later this year. A renovation of the 376-room hotel, across from Bayside Marketplace, is planned. A LaQuinta spokeswoman said the company would have more to say about the deal in about a week.
• Ocean Walk Village, a resort complex operating in Daytona Beach, is close to completing its final elements and enhanced its Web site, www.oceanwalkvillage.com.
• Tecton Hospitality, Miami, added the 66-room Wave Hotel and 88-room Traymore Hotel, both in Miami Beach, to its portfolio.
• A fly-casting instruction package, commissionable at 10%, is offered Sept. 23 to 26 by the Watercolor Inn, Seagrove Beach. Rates from $929 double, include a king-bedded room with a balcony or patio; instruction in the Orvis method of fly-casting; daily breakfast and lunch; and a $25 credit for use in a local outfitter store. For information, call (888) 853-4077.
• The Courtyard By Marriott South Beach (Miami Beach), with 90 rooms, opened this month with introductory rates of $99 to $109 per night valid on stays through Dec. 26. For information, call (800) 321-2211 or (305) 604-8887.

AIR BYTES
• Air Canada's Tango is bringing its low-fare, all e-ticket, "all extras are optional" service across the border in mid-December. That's when Tango will launch seasonal, nonstop flights on A320 jets to Fort Lauderdale from Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City, as well as nonstop service between Montreal and Orlando.
• Starting Nov. 1, Delta Connection will offer expanded service to Florida from Washington (National). New cities to be served are Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach.
• AirTran Airways on Dec. 10 adds West Palm Beach as its 40th destination, with three daily flights from Atlanta.

FLORIDA HUDDLE 2003, which brings together tour operator buyers from all over the globe with Florida suppliers, will be held Jan. 22 to 24 at the Coconut Grove Convention Center, Miami. For information, contact Int'l Productions, Orlando, (407) 856-4747; the Web site is www.floridahuddle.com.

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