News briefs, week of Sept. 12, 2016

Domestic travel trends weakening ...

Domestic leisure travel in July grew at its slowest rate since 2012, and domestic travel will grow much slower for the rest of 2016, after months of relative strength as business and inbound international travel softened, according to the U.S. Travel Association's Travel Trends Index. Brexit in the U.K. and the strong dollar will drag inbound travel growth to a standstill by the end of the year, U.S. Travel said.

... while European summer arrivals drop
Despite strong growth in late June and early July, long-haul travel to Europe decreased this summer, according to ForwardKeys, a travel analysis firm that looks at 14 million airline bookings daily. From June 1 to Aug. 31, long-haul arrivals in Europe declined 0.9% compared with the same period last year. But during the three weeks following the July 14 terrorist attack in Nice, France, and the July 15 attempted coup in Turkey, travel to Europe dropped by 4.3%, ForwardKeys reported.

TripAdvisor site going more tour-friendly
TripAdvisor redesigned its website home page to make booking destination activities easier, with additions such as a Things to Do widget, which enabled users to enter destinations and find experiences to book. TripAdvisor said attractions and tour bookings have jumped 150% year over year as its attractions listings grew 63%.

Norwegian continues its U.S. expansion
Norwegian Air will launch four Barcelona routes next year from Newark, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif., all beginning in June except Fort Lauderdale, which launches Aug. 22.

JetBlue launches Atlanta service
JetBlue will begin serving Atlanta on March 30 with five flights per day to Boston. The discount carrier also plans to eventually add service between Fort Lauderdale, New York and Orlando, and Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the Delta-dominated, busiest airport in the world. JetBlue served Atlanta for a short time in 2003 but pulled out later that year because of intense competition from Delta and AirTran.

Karisma to begin huge Jamaica project
Karisma Hotels & Resorts will break ground early next year on an $800 million project in Jamaica that may include as many as 10 hotels totaling 6,900 rooms within the next decade. Called Sugarcane, the project will be built on 200 acres on the island's north coast. Karisma now operates one hotel on the island and will open a second there next year.

Key Largo gets firs major resort since '93
The 155-unit Playa Largo Resort & Spa, a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel, opened on Key Largo, Fla., the first full-service resort to open there in 23 years. Located on 14 acres on Florida Bay, Playa Largo features a private beach, pool, spa, fitness center, tennis courts, meeting space, a marina and three restaurants.

Suit: Alaska-Virgin merger bad for flyers
A group of 42 consumers filed a lawsuit in San Francisco last week to block Alaska Airlines from purchasing Virgin America, alleging it would reduce the number of airlines servicing Hawaii and both U.S. coasts, leading to reduced capacity, higher ticket prices and ancillary fees while depriving passengers of the "unique flying experience" offered by Virgin America.

Friends & Colleagues
Alex Alt has been promoted to executive vice president of Sabre Corp., in addition to his role as president of Sabre Hospitality Solutions. Alt has held several roles at Sabre, including an expanded COO role at Sabre Hospitality Solutions. Prior to Sabre, Alt was the senior vice president of global development and strategy at Rosewood Hotels & Resorts and was a senior engagement manager at McKinsey & Co. • • • The Oneworld alliance has named Emirates senior vice president Rob Gurney to be the successor to CEO Bruce Ashby, who stepped down in June after more than five years. Gurney will take over in October. Oneworld comprises 15 carriers, including American, British Airways, Qantas, Latam, Qatar and Iberia. Prior to joining Emirates, Gurney served as an executive with Qantas and BA. He also was Qantas' representative on the Oneworld management team executive board. • • • Gwenn Feliciano has returned to SuperClubs as the company's director of sales North America, overseeing the sales and marketing efforts of Breezes Resort & Spa--Bahamas and Rooms on the Beach properties in Jamaica. Feliciano worked for SuperClubs from 1998 to 2009, rising to become vice president of U.S. sales and marketing. Since 2014, Feliciano had been director of sales and marketing at the all-inclusive Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Miami. • • • Divi Flamingo Beach Resort named Melissa Hilgers general manager. Hilgers has been at the resort since 2011, following hotel positions at several properties in Santa Barbara, Calif. The Flamingo resort is one of eight Divi properties in the Caribbean. • • • Edward Philip has joined the board of United Continental Holdings, parent company of United Airlines. Philip is the COO of Partners in Health, a nonprofit that provides medical services to people in underserved communities around the world. He was previously a founding member of the internet search company Lycos.


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