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.

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Unfinished business

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 visa.

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 month.

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 happen.

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