The president on tourism

President Obama on May 22 signed a memorandum that would develop a goal for improving service levels for international arrivals, including airport-specific plans to improve the entry experience and reduce wait times. Obama met with travel and tourism industry executives at the White House, including from left, Arne Sorenson of Marriott International, Greg Stubblefield of Enterprise Holdings and Mark Hoplamazian of Hyatt Hotels. Later in the day he delivered remarks on tourism during a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Tourism Cares sponsors model
Tourism Cares is the sponsor of the original 1971 World Trade Center presentation model, now on display in the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum, which opened to the public last week. The 7-foot-tall model was created by architectural firm Minoru Yamasaki Associates to a scale of 1:200 and was constructed to enable the client to see how the entire 16-acre World Trade Center complex would look when it was completed. According to information about the model on the 9/11 Museum's website, it is the largest, most detailed of the original series of architectural presentation models created by the firm. Tourism Cares said that its board led the underwriting of the display costs, with additional support from several travel and tourism companies. Travel Weekly was among the underwriters.

U.S. Travel reports on infrastructure issues
"Collapsing transportation infrastructure" is threatening the U.S. travel industry and the overall economy, according to a survey of U.S. Travel Association members. Released in conjunction with Building America's Future, an educational and advocacy group, the survey found that 87% of U.S. Travel members rate U.S. infrastructure as "fair" or "poor."

MSC Cruises orders two 4,170-pax ships
MSC Cruises said it placed an order for two ships, to be dubbed the Seaside class, that will cost about $1.9 billion at current exchange rates. Each ship will have the capacity to carry 4,170 passengers at double occupancy. MSC's executive chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago, said the ships will be futuristic in their structure, shape and versatility.

Kimpton plans hotel in North Carolina
Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants will enter North Carolina when it opens a 211-room property inside of the historical R.J. Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem. The 85-year-old building will be redeveloped into a mixed-use site that will include luxury condominiums on the higher floors. The building was designed by Shreve & Lamb, which later designed the Empire State Building.

Norwegian brings new features to older ships
Norwegian Cruise Line said it will spend $250 million to bring some features of its new ships, such as O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill, to older vessels. Beyond ship revitalizations, the program, called Norwegian Next, will include enhancements to the main dining room, new destinations, some environmental initiatives and new guest activities.

Delta to operate first LAX-LHR nonstops
Joint-venture partners Delta and Virgin Atlantic will each start flying their own planes on routes previously operated solely by one of the airlines. On Oct. 26, Delta will begin flying one of two London Heathrow-Los Angeles flights currently operated by Virgin Atlantic. It will be Delta's first nonstop operation between Los Angeles and London. Virgin Atlantic, meanwhile, will begin operating one of Delta's three daily flights between London and Atlanta, giving Virgin its first access to Atlanta.

Sonesta plants flag at two Curacao hotels
The Kura Hulanda Hotel & Spa and the Kura Hulanda Lodge & Beach Club in Curacao will fly the Sonesta Hotels & Resorts' flag, starting this summer. Colombia-based GHL Hoteles took over the operation of both properties last December, and it plans to upgrade the 77-room, beachfront lodge on Curacao's west end and the 80-room hotel in Willemstad with new soft goods, food-and-beverage offerings and guest services.

Disneyland tickets rise to $96
Walt Disney Co. increased the price of a single-day, single-park ticket for the Disneyland Resort to $96, up from $92. The price applies to patrons age 10 and older visiting Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. The price for the Deluxe Annual Passport also increased 4%, from $499 to $519.

2 HAL ships to move to P&O Australia
Australia will receive two Holland America ships in 2015, the Statendam and Ryndam, when Carnival Corp. transfers them to its P&O Australia subsidiary.

Friends & Colleagues
Jeffrey Clarke has been named executive vice president at Travel Impressions, working alongside Tim Mullen, the company's president. He joins the company June 23. Clarke joins from Celebrity Cruises, where he served as vice president of sales. He has held various executive-level positions at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., dating back to 1998. • • • Joy Ann Jibrilu is the new director general of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, replacing 30-year veteran David Johnson. Jibrilu previously was director of the Bahamas Investment Authority within the office of the prime minister. Johnson will become the new CEO of Hotel Corp. of the Bahamas as it transitions into the Tourism Development Corp. with a focus on increasing room inventory. • • • Travel Leaders Group promoted Pam Massey to the role of vice president, partner marketing. Massey was director of the marketing department. She joined in 2001 as director of national accounts, and she moved into an expanded role for all of Travel Leaders Group in 2011. • • • Rene Aguado was appointed director of sales and marketing for resort operations at the new all-suite Grand Residences Riviera Cancun. Aguado most recently served as the director of sales and marketing for the Presidente InterContinental in Mexico City. He also held posts at the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort in Los Cabos, the Tortuga Bay Hotel and the Puntacana Hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, as well as at properties in Dubai. • • • David Udell is the new group president for Hyatt Hotels' Asia Pacific region. Udell most recently served as senior vice president for operations in Hyatt's Global Operations Center. He will take over on July 1 from Larry Tchou, a 44-year Hyatt veteran who served as head of Asia Pacific operations for more than 32 years. • • • CroisiEurope has tapped Nicola Iannone to be director of sales in the U.S. Most recently, Iannone served as director of national and key accounts with Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and for MSC Cruises.

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