News Briefs, Week of May 8, 2006

Destiny itinerary to drop Aruba

Carnival will launch a new five-port, seven-day southern Caribbean itinerary from San Juan aboard the Destiny beginning in January, adding St. Lucia and Antigua in place of Aruba while keeping Dominica, Barbados, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Vance Gulliksen, Carnival spokesman, said eliminating Aruba from the itinerary was both a fuel-saving initiative and a way to freshen the Destinys program, which had operated the same itinerary for five years.

ASTA to IATA: Dont test agents

ASTA called on IATA to drop plans to require travel agents to pass a test to qualify for the Iatan ID card. In a letter, ASTAs vice president, Cheryl Hudak, said an international airline organization shouldnt set standards for all agents, adding that a generic test cant qualify agents with widely varied specialties.

She also said testing wont prevent the unqualified from getting IDs because IATA cant verify the identity of online test-takers. Testing is on the agenda of an Iatan board meeting this month.

Northwest pilots accept pay cuts

Northwests pilots ratified a contract that includes a 23.9% pay cut and $358 million in annual savings for the carrier. The union called the deal a painful step that will help Northwest emerge from bankruptcy. Still pending is a flight attendants vote, to be tallied June 6, and further talks with various technical-support specialists.

AIG closes on Travel Guard deal

American International Group completed its purchase of Travel Guard International and several affiliated companies. The deal includes Travel Guard Canada and Mercury International Assistance in Brighton, England. 

Post office to help CTO on passports

With an eye on the Dec. 31 deadline when all travelers entering or returning to the U.S must have a valid U.S. passport, the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the U.S. Postal Service agreed to partner on a project to hand out passport applications and take passport photos at CTO events. The USPS agreed to have a booth at U.S. trade shows in which CTO participates, starting with the June 13 Caribbean Fair in New York.

Qantas to offer U.S.-Canada trips

Qantas is adding nonstop San Francisco-Vancouver service June 14 to Aug. 6 and Dec. 1 to Jan. 31 on 747 aircraft, taking advantage of rights available under international aviation accords to offer service between two foreign countries.

Coincidentally, Air Canada is hoping to use the same rights, now available under a new U.S.-Canada open-skies deal, to compete against Qantas on the Los Angeles-Sydney route next year.

Canada probes QE2 in garbage incident

Canada is investigating whether the Queen Elizabeth 2 illegally dumped about three cubic meters of garbage in waters near Halifax, Nova Scotia, last September.

Cunard said it reported the incident and is cooperating with the probe. We regret the accidental discharge of food and waste paper, said Cunard spokeswoman Jackie Matthews.

Kristen Goodnough, senior communications advisor for marine safety at Transport Canada, said Should sufficient evidence be developed, we can prosecute.

Occidental resort reopens on Aruba

The 391-room Occidental Grand Aruba reopened following a $42 million renovation of the former Allegro-branded resort. The Royal Club, a 50-room, boutique-style hotel within the resort, offers VIP services and a private restaurant.

Stockholders OK Pegasus buyout

Stockholders of Pegasus Solutions agreed to Pegasus acquisition by an entity controlled by Prides Capital Partners for $9.50 per share in cash.

The merger, proposed in December, was declared effective May 4, when Pegasus stock ceased trading on the Nasdaq. Prides Capital invests in small- and micro-cap companies.

Commerce Dept. urges dot-travel use

The Commerce Dept. is encouraging U.S. states and cities to register the names of their heritage sites, state parks and other attractions in the dot-travel Internet domain.

We encourage U.S. cities, towns, national parks, landmarks and other publicly entrusted destinations to protect their unique identities by registering their names, said Al Frink, assistant secretary for manufacturing and services. The domain, managed by Tralliance Corp., is open only to bona fide U.S. and overseas travel entities and destinations.

Colorado to ban smoking July 1

Colorado will go smoke-free July 1 when a law passed in March, goes into effect banning smoking statewide in bars, restaurants, the public areas of hotels and most workplaces. Smoking would be per- mitted in casinos and certain designated areas of airports. Hotels would still be permitted to designate a percentage of guest rooms for smokers.

Friends & Colleagues

Gwyn Hughes has been appointed CEO of EasyCruise.  Hughes was executive vice president of P&O Princess Cruises from 2000 to 2003 and and most recently ran his own strategy and communications consultancy. EasyCruise also has appointed Louise Reece senior vice president of itineraries and shore activities. Reece has spent the past 10 years with Windjammer Barefoot Cruises. " " " Paul Pennicook, Jamaicas director of tourism, has completed his three-year term at the Jamaica Tourist Board and will join Air Jamaica as senior vice president of sales and marketing on June 1. " " " Joe DAlessandro has been named president and CEO of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, replacing longtime bureau chief John Marks, who is retiring on June 30. DAlessandro has been the CEO of the Portland Oregon Visitors Association. " " " The Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau has named Christopher Baum senior vice president of sales and marketing. Baum most recently worked as the director of travel advertising for the New Yorker magazine. " " " Choice Hotels International has promoted Mary Beth Knight and Bill Carlson to senior vice president positions. Knight will serve as the companys senior vice president of e-commerce. Carlson will serve as senior vice president, consumer revenue growth. " " " Anna Marie Presutti, previously vice president of sales and marketing of Nikko Hotels International, has been promoted to vice president and general manager of Hotel Nikko (U.S.A.) Inc. and the Hotel Nikko San Francisco. Presutti is the first woman to serve as a vice president and general manager in the hotel chains history.

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