Passport company aids fire victims

CIBT, parent of American Passport Express and Passport Express, is waiving its fee for expedited U.S. passport replacement and guaranteeing a replacement in fewer than 10 business days for travelers affected by the California fires.

The free offer, good through the end of the year, does not include government fees or shipping. Travelers must write "California Fire" on their submission sheet.

Lodging metrics show more gains 

U.S. hotel occupancy rose to 68.6% percent in the three months ending September 2007, while the third-quarter average room rate rose 5.6%, to $103.56, according to Smith Travel Research. For the nine months, however, occupancy was flat at 65%. 

LIAT sets date for Caribbean Star acquisition 

Caribbean carrier LIAT, whose major owners are the governments of Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados and St. Vincent & the Grenadines, finalized its pending agreement to acquire the assets of Antigua-based Caribbean Star.

Caribbean Star will stop flying Nov. 15 and LIAT will operate the combined fleet of Dash-8 turboprops on both route systems. 

Brazil attracts second Costa ship

Costa Cruises will reassign the Costa Mediterranea to Brazil for the winter 2008-2009 season, joining the Costa Magica sailing out of Santos.

Earlier this month, Costa said that it would redeploy the ship from Fort Lauderdale to "a different key core market, allowing Costa to reinforce its strategic global positions." 

CLIA introduces single membership

The Cruise Lines International Association introduced an individual travel agent level of membership for agents who are part of an active CLIA-member agency.

For $99 per year, agents get access to CLIA's education and training programs and marketing resources, including an individual and local listing (referencing the agent's agency affiliation) on CLIA's online travel agent locator.

JetBlue to drop four routes in Jan.

JetBlue will discontinue operations in Columbus, Ohio, and Nashville on Jan. 6, and it will cease service between Fort Lauderdale and Oakland, Calif., on Jan. 13. JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said the markets "did not mature as well as we had expected."

JetBlue serves Nashville from New York and serves Columbus from New York and Boston.

Delta to add Hawaii routes

Delta plans to add nonstops from Los Angeles to Kauai and to Kona, on Hawaii's Big Island, beginning June 5. Delta will use a mix of Boeing  757 and 767 aircraft.

Carlson upgrades MasterCard tools

MasterCard and Carlson Wagonlit Travel launched an enhanced version of their travel data program, offering corporate users in Europe, China, Australia and Singapore better tools for managing travel.

MasterCard issuers in these markets, and in others to follow, can offer companies of all sizes data that integrate expenditures with policy rules, itineraries and accounting codes.

NYC tourism unit opens Brazil office 

NYC & Company, New York's tourism marketing arm, opened an office in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to be run by the Interamerican Travel Industry Network, which will provide marketing and public relations services.

New York is the top U.S. destination for Brazil, outpacing Miami.

Owner gives up on New Orleans Hyatt

Strategic Hotels & Resorts is giving up on plans to redevelop the hurricane-ravaged Hyatt Regency New Orleans and surrounding area into a jazz center. The firm said it was selling the 1,184-room hotel, closed since Hurricane Katrina, to Poydras Properties Hotel Holdings Co., LLC for $32 million. 

Survey: Spending on insurance rises

Americans spent more than $1.3 billion on travel insurance last year, up 20% from 2004, according to a survey by the U.S. Travel Insurance Association.

The research found that more than 67 million people were covered by insurance or emergency assistance services in 2006, an 18% increase. Of the total, about a third purchased a per-trip policy.

Friends & Colleagues

Oscar Fitch Gomez was appointed general director of the Mexico Tourism Board. He was an executive with FEMSA Brewery, where he headed the direction of key accounts and the promotion of tourist centers. " " " Fairmont Hotels named Heather McCrory regional vice president for central Canada and general manager of the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. She had served as vice president of sales and distribution at Fairmont's corporate office. " " " Global Hyatt appointed a development team dedicated to the Americas, led by Jim Abrahamson, who previously oversaw the brand launches of Hyatt Place and Hyatt Summerfield Suites. Chris Ivy and David Tarr were named vice presidents for the group's Western and Eastern regions, respectively. " " " Lisa Bertomeu was named area director of sales and marketing for the Chicagoland Hilton Hotels, which includes the Palmer House Hilton, the Hilton Chicago, the Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport, the Drake and the Conrad. Bertomeu most recently was Hilton's regional director of sales and marketing, Southeast region. " " " Fairmont Raffles Hotels International hired James Kaplan from InterContinental Hotels Group to be vice president of development for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Kaplan will be responsible for growing the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel brands. " " " America's Vacation Center named Steve Hirshan director of sales in its new Florida office. He had been an AVC independent affiliate for two years. " " " Matt Balcik was appointed general manager of the Westin Aruba Resort, located on Palm Beach. Balcik held several positions, including general manager, at the Westin St. John Resort & Villas.

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