It's too early to say the year is off to a good start, but we'll say it anyway before something bad happens: 2013 is off to a good start.

In Washington, the government avoided the worst of the fiscal cliff scenario, at least for now. There's still a good chance for messy spats about the debt ceiling and spending cuts that could threaten to shut down the government, but for the most part the middle class dodged the worst of the tax hikes, which is good news for travel.

January is not the time when we want consumers worried about their purchasing power.

Another positive sign came on the first business day of the new year when Avis disclosed an agreement to acquire Zipcar, the industry's leading car-share service, for $500 million, a price representing a 49% premium over the young company's stock price.

The Avis move came just a few days after Royal Caribbean finalized a deal to build a third Oasis-class ship for a sum likely to exceed $1 billion. These deals reflect a healthy optimism about future trends.

When a year starts with two major travel brands committing to invest $1.5 billion in new ventures, we can conclude that the year is off to a good start.
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