Kudos to those Texas travel agents who have been sending "mystery
shoppers" to the Carnival Vacation Store at the Parks mall near
Dallas. We're all in favor of keeping suppliers on their toes.
In this case, Carnival said it would not use the mall kiosk to
undercut agents. Carnival also said it would ask customers if they
have a travel agent and would credit those agents for any sales
made at the kiosk.
Some Dallas-area retailers, unwilling to take Carnival at its
word, resorted to self-help and took the initiative to check out
the kiosk for themselves.
We're glad they did -- not because we think Carnival is
particularly untrustworthy, but because of the message this sends
to all suppliers: Travel agents will hold you to your word.
Carnival, to its credit, seems to be keeping its word. Agents,
to theirs, are just making sure.
• • •
Congress went out for its summer recess leaving some unfinished
business that is critical to the travel industry -- specifically,
the visa waiver program. This is the program that allows visitors
from 29 foreign countries to visit the U.S. for 90 days without a
This was to be the year that the "pilot program" was to be made
permanent. In April, we praised the House for breaking a logjam
that had impeded the bill's progress in that chamber. At the time,
Senate approval seemed likely.
Well, Senate approval still hasn't happened, but it ought to be
the first order of business when Congress reconvenes next
If the visa waiver program lapses, foreign visitors to the U.S.
will face unwelcome new obstacles. Also, foreign governments
accustomed to reciprocity may well impose visa requirements on
their inbound visitors from the U.S. Nobody wants that to