This Week in Travel & Tourism — 9/3/2012

INTERNATIONAL

Dominican Republic visitation up 7% this year

Travelers arriving by air in the Dominican Republic grew to 2.9 million visitors from January through July, up 7.2% over the same period in 2011. The U.S. continues to be the top source market, according to data from the Central Bank, which compiles arrivals statistics for the destination. Other markets showing growth include Russia, Canada and Venezuela.

AIRLINE

United Airlines plans capacity cut through 2012. CFO says

United Airlines plans to trim capacity by up to 3% from September through the end of 2012. The carrier had previously forecast capacity cuts of up to 2% for the fourth quarter. “We are beginning to see some modest slowness in the economic outlook and we’re responding accordingly,” said CFO John Rainey.

CRUISE

Norwegian Cruise Line unveils hull art for the Breakaway

Norwegian Cruise Line’s newbuild to be homeported in New York will feature a hull painted with a New York skyline, the Statue of Liberty and a stylized solar system. Norwegian on Tuesday unveiled the design by pop artist Peter Max. It will decorate the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway, which is scheduled to arrive in New York next May for a summer of seven-day cruises to Bermuda.

Royal Caribbean launches product around Barbie doll

Royal Caribbean isn’t trading in its signature gold and blue colors, but its ships are going to be a lot more pink starting in January. That’s when something called the “Barbie Experience” will debut for young princesses ages 4 to 11. Girls can sleep in Barbie-themed cabins, design Barbie outfits, go to tea and participate in a fashion show at the end of the cruise. The experience will come in a basic free version and a premium one that will cost $349.

This Week in Travel & Tourism — 8/27/2012

DOMESTIC

Tourism in Hawaii is on pace for record gains

Hawaii’s tourism officials forecast another banner year for the tourism economy as it announced that the number of visitors as well as per-visitor spending from the first half of the year were both on pace to beat 2011 levels. Visitor arrivals were up 9.8%, to 4.7 million, and expenditures rose 20.8%, to $8.4 billion.

AIRLINE

Spirit to add Los Cabos service

Spirit Airlines will launch nonstop daily service between San Diego and Los Cabos, Mexico, on Nov. 8. The flight will be supplemented by a daily connecting flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to San Diego, launching on the same date.
In addition, Spirit will begin nonstop service four times a week between Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Cabos in June 2013.

JetBlue widens markets for upgraded Go Pack offering

JetBlue Airways has reintroduced its Go Pack travel deal, which has been expanded to include 32 markets. The new package offers fliers 10 nonstop one-way flights for a fixed price, and the travel window has been extended to three months.

United will launch 787 Dreamliner service in November

United Airlines plans to inaugurate service aboard its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner on Nov. 4. The carrier will fly domestic routes on the Dreamliner for a month before launching international service on Dec. 4. United has ordered a total of 50 Boeing 787-8s.
http://www.ausbt.com.au/united-s-boeing-787-dreamliner-flies-from-november-4-on-domestic-usa-routes-international-flights-start-november

Hawaiian Airlines seeks to add route from Big Island to Tokyo

Hawaiian Airlines has applied to the Transportation Department for daily service to Haneda Airport in Tokyo from Hawaii’s Big Island. The airline has proposed a nonstop route between Kona International Airport and Haneda Airport that could begin by March.

CRUISE

Princess Cruises announces start of construction of new ship

Construction has begun on a new Princess Cruises ship, the Regal Princess, the cruise line has announced. Set to launch in spring 2014, the 3,600-passenger vessel will follow the debut of the Royal Princess in June 2013. Both are part of a new class of ships for the cruise line.

Disney Cruise Line, Texas port reach 2-year deal

Disney Cruise Line will be launching voyages aboard the Disney Magic from the Port of Galveston, Texas, for at least two years under a new agreement that includes a one-year renewal option. Disney says it has scheduled 38 cruises from Galveston during its first operating year.

This Week in Travel & Tourism — 7/16/2012

INTERNATIONAL

Latin America proves lucrative for U.S. airlines

For most U.S. carriers, flights to Latin America have proved profitable, financial data filed with the Department of Transportation show. During the first quarter, flights to Latin America returned a 5% operating margin, compared with a 4% operating margin for domestic flights.

International visitor spending in U.S. in May up 8%

International visitors to the U.S. in May spent $13.9 billion on tourism and travel-related activities, up 8% from a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported Friday. For the first five months of 2012, international tourism spending is up 12% and has created an $18.4 billion trade surplus for the U.S.

Spas very important for Chinese travelers, says Hilton

Chinese tourists are more than twice as likely to factor in whether a hotel has an on-site spa in their booking decisions than Americans, Hilton Hotels & Resorts said in a report released Tuesday.

DOMESTIC

Average jet-fuel costs in May were the same as a year ago, DOT says

The average fuel cost for U.S. airlines was $3.03 a gallon in May, the same price as a year ago, but down 3.2% compared to April prices, the Department of Transportation says. The total fuel consumption on scheduled flights in May was 1.37 billion gallons.

AIRLINE

Customer service is at heart of American Airlines’ Twitter strategy

Dealing with American Airlines via Twitter can be downright enjoyable, Darren Booth writes. The company uses the microblogging site to disseminate information and answer customers’ questions, and it does so with a refreshingly “sincere and human approach,” he writes. Jonathan Pierce, the airline’s director of social media communications, says “our team is empowered by relating to customers, finding connections and being authentic in every response. We make sure there’s a face and voice behind each post.”

United plans 10 new routes

United Airlines announced plans to launch year-round and seasonal service to several new international and domestic routes. International routes are subject to government approval. New routes include daily, year-round service between its San Francisco hub and Taiwan, beginning April 9; daily, year-round service between San Francisco and Paris, beginning April 11; three daily flights between Denver and Williston, N.D., beginning Nov. 4; and daily service between Washington Dulles and San Salvador, El Salvador, beginning Dec. 19.

Hawaiian Airlines will add nonstop flights to New Zealand

Hawaiian Airlines has announced that it will add three nonstop flights per week between between Honolulu and Auckland, starting in March. The move will make the airline the only U.S. carrier flying to the New Zealand city. It believes that New Zealand is an untapped market, noting that the number of visitors to Hawaii from New Zealand has dropped 30% since 1999, when more nonstop flights were offered from Auckland, this feature says.

CRUISE

Carnival’s stricter sales policy draws more praise than criticism

When it goes into effect Aug. 1, Carnival Cruise Lines’ ban on using cash-equivalent value-adds as booking incentives will be among the tightest such policies in the industry. Even so, agents greeted the policy change with more praise than criticism after it was announced in early July.

ETC.

Baby boomers lead rise in multigenerational travel

Complex multigenerational vacations are on the rise, influenced by a growing number of retiring baby boomers with dreams of making memories and plenty of money to make it a reality, this feature says. Popular family tourist activities around the world include tracing the route of explorers Lewis and Clark in Montana, a culture-laden cruise along Alaska’s Inside Passage and a safari across the Tanzanian Serengeti.

Hertz adds Porsche to Prestige lineup

Hertz added Porsche Panamera sport sedans to the lineup of high-end cars in the Hertz Prestige Collection at select locations in California, Nevada and Florida, saying it’s the first major U.S. rental brand to offer Porsches. Hertz also will become a sponsor of a Porsche racing team. Panamera prices start at about $75,000. http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Car-Rental-News/Hertz-adds-Porsche-to-Prestige-lineup/?a=usa&cid=eltrvegas

This Week in Travel & Tourism — 7/2/2012

INTERNATIONAL

Los Cabos launches marketing campaign

The Los Cabos Convention & Visitors Bureau launched a new marketing campaign targeting North American travelers. Highlighted by a series of print and digital ads, the campaign promotes activities and vacation offerings for visitors.

DOMESTIC

Tourism volume, spending in Hawaii set record growth in May

Hawaii experienced record gains in visitation and tourist spending in May, welcoming 622,899 visitors and gaining $1.1 billion in tourism revenue, the Hawaii Tourism Authority says. Tourists from the East and West coasts as well as from Canada and Japan contributed the most to the growth.

Airlines increase capacity to Hawaii by 12.6% in Q3

Airlines will offer almost 2.7 million seats on nonstop flights to Hawaii this quarter, the Hawaii Tourism Authority says. The airlines are increasing capacity by 12.6% for the third quarter, compared to the same quarter of last year. Alaska, Allegiant, Hawaiian and United airlines recently added flights to Hawaii.

AIRLINE

Delta and United reduce capacity amid demand concerns

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines in the past week alone reduced on a combined basis “about 1% of their seats” for the second half of the year, according to Rodman & Renshaw analyst Dan McKenzie, who cited “the darkening economic outlook” as the trigger for the cuts in capacity.

Families finding it tougher to sit together in-flight

If you want to sit next to family or friends the next time you fly, better not leave it up to chance at the airport.With some airlines no longer allowing families with young children to pre-board, and others putting a premium price on more of their seats in economy, it’s getting harder to score seats together without paying extra.

CRUISE

Children can sail free on select Norwegian Cruise Line voyages

Norwegian Cruise Line has launched a limited-time special offer allowing children 17 and younger to be booked for free. The deal encompasses select sailings from three to 20 nights, with destinations that include Alaska, the Panama Canal and the Mediterranean.

Upcoming Norwegian Breakway will feature “Rock of Ages” musical

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that the hit Broadway musical “Rock of Ages” will be performed on its upcoming ship, the Norwegian Breakaway, alongside another Broadway show, “Burn the Floor.” The Breakaway, which is scheduled to debut May 2013, will also feature a circus show, “Cirque Dreams & Dinner — Jungle Fantasy in the Spiegel Tent,” as well as performances by comedy group Second City and a “Howl at the Moon” dueling piano show.

ETC.

Olympics can spell boom or bust for hotels in host cities

The Olympic Games undoubtedly represent a significant boost for the tourism and hotel industry of the host city, even helping to establish the presence of former host cities such as Salt Lake City and Beijing on the global travel market, this feature says. However, some cases also serve as a warning for future host cities, including that of Turin, Italy, which faces oversupply in the face of muted tourism demand, and of Athens, Greece, which experienced a business decline when the country’s economy slumped.

This Week in Travel & Tourism – 6/11/2012

INTERNATIONAL

EU emissions dispute could lead to higher airfares, official says

International airfares could rise if countries opposed to a planned expansion of the European Union’s emissions-trading scheme make good on their promise to retaliate, this feature says. Retaliatory measures could include reductions in flight frequency, banning EU airlines from the airspace of opposing countries and imposing fees on EU carriers that use airports in opposing countries.

AIRLINE

United follows Delta in raising baggage fee

United Airlines has raised its fee for a second checked bag on trans-Atlantic flights to $100 from $70. Delta Air Lines announced a similar increase in January to $100 from $75, or to $80 with online check-in. An industry analyst notes that the price increase comes in the face of falling fuel prices and a tenuous outlook for the European Union’s economy. United, however, attributes the fee change to “an increase in costs associated with carrying bags, such as fuel and handling.”

CRUISE

Norwegian cruise sale bases savings on state residency

Norwegian Cruise Line has introduced a cruise sale promo that offers savings for passengers based on the state in which they live. Passengers who book between now and Sunday can save up to $1,000 for cruises to destinations such as Hawaii, the Bahamas and Alaska.

Scenic Cruises unveils all-inclusive river sailings for 2013

Scenic Cruises is touting the “first truly all-inclusive luxury river cruising experience” it will provide in its 2013 schedule for Europe river cruises. The itineraries include new shore activities and dining options for passengers, who will get free Wi-Fi, beverages, private butler service and themed dinners.

OTA

Tourico Holidays implements AA’s direct connect

Online travel wholesaler Tourico Holidays said it is using American Airlines’ direct connect to book the airline’s fares and ancillary products.

Carnival overhauls loyalty program

Carnival Cruise Lines revamped and rebranded its loyalty program into a five-tier structure called the Very Important Fun Person Club, or VIFP. The new categories are based on the number of cruise days sailed, rather than the previous number of cruises.

ETC.

The Changing Face of All-Inclusives

Wave goodbye to your grandmother’s all-inclusives. The concept that once just meant a buffet along with a bed now encompasses just about anything a client desires on a vacation.

This week in Travel & Tourism — 6/4/12

DOMESTIC

Orlando, Fla., reports receiving 55.1M visitors in 2011

Visitor numbers in Orlando, Fla., climbed 7.2% in 2011 from the previous year, reaching a new record of 55.1 million visitors, tourism group Visit Orlando says. Using data from the U.S. Office of Travel & Tourism Industries and D.K. Shifflet & Associates, the group reported that international visits numbered 3.8 million, while domestic visitation reached 51.3 million, rising 7.5% from figures in 2010.

INTERNATIONAL

Acapulco fights image woes as it seeks return to glory

Acapulco and Mazatlan, two Pacific coast resort cities whose images have been tarnished by Mexico’s drug wars, are on the offensive, fighting back with strong promotional campaigns, tourist-centered festivals and events and enhanced security measures in efforts to change overall visitor perceptions of the destinations.

AIRLINE

Airlines expand basic- and premium economy classes of service

Delta Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines are instituting two levels of economy-class service. Basic-economy service will be a no-frills experience for passengers looking to spend less, and premium-economy service will offer extra perks such as more seat room and early boarding. “Our expansion of Economy Comfort gives customers more premium seats to choose from no matter where they fly on Delta,” said Glen Hauenstein, a Delta executive vice president.

Southwest Airlines will launch new routes this year

Southwest Airlines plans to launch new routes in November and take over some routes flown by AirTran Airways. Southwest acquired AirTran last year, and eventually plans to absorb all AirTran flights into the Southwest brand. However, Southwest does not plan to add service in Memphis, Tenn., this year.

Air Canada will continue with plan for low-cost carrier

Calin Rovinescu, the CEO of Air Canada, says the airline is planning to launch a low-cost carrier. “I have said repeatedly that we need to participate in this segment of the market in one manner or another. And to this end, we are evaluating various low-cost business models,” he said.

TRAVEL TRADE

Aeromexico Vacations bumps hotel pay to 15%

Aeromexico Vacations is offering 15% commission on all land components when agents book air-hotel packages to Mexico, Central and South America. The 15% commission has no end date and is in effect for at least two months, according to MLT Vacations, operatot of Aeromexico Vacations.

Top 4 agencies dominate the travel-agent market, study shows

Research group IBISWorld has reported that more than 75% of the global travel-agency market belongs to the four largest industry groups: American Express, Carlson Cos., Expedia and Priceline.com. “However, there are still opportunities for smaller and niche operators at the regional and local city/town level,” IBISWorld said. The group also predict that rising consumer spending will boost travel-agency revenue by 3.1% at an annualized rate over the next five years.

CRUISE

River and ocean cruise lines for cross-marketing pact

In what appears to be an industry first, river cruise line Ama Waterways and ocean cruise line Crystal Cruises have formed a cross-marketing partnership. Each cruise line developed an exclusive offer that was emailed to past passengers with an introduction from the other brand.

Norwegian to buy cruise ship from shareholder

Norwegian Cruise Line has signed a memorandum of agreement to exercise its option to purchase the 2,000-passenger Norwegian Sky. The line has operated the Norwegian Sky under a bareboat charter with a purchase option from Ample Avenue, a subsidiary of Genting Hong Kong Limited, a 50% owner of Norwegian Cruise Line.

OTA

Travelocity fights to regain market share

Travelocity, when it emerged from Sabre in 1996, pioneered the online travel agency (OTA) space. But in the 16 years since, it has fallen sharply behind its competitors in terms of online traffic. Presumably, it has also fallen behind in revenue, though as one of the four major OTAs that is not public, it does not disclose its financial results.

ETC.

Airlines investing in entertainment, not roomier seats

As more airlines continue to shrink seat width and leg room, they are investing in lighter-weight and more comprehensive in-flight entertainment technologies. Mary Kirby, editor of Airline Passenger Experience magazine, explains the rationale behind these moves: “It’s of more value for an airline to add two rows worth of seats and have a good in-flight entertainment system rather than do the opposite and give passengers more legroom.”

This week in Travel and Tourism — 5/21/2012

DOMESTIC

Colorado and Florida have cheapest domestic fares, says ARC

Travelers departing from Colorado and Florida are the most likely to find the lowest airfares, according to ARC statistics. ARC said that based on an examination of average fares for 12 months ending April 30, 2012, Colorado was the least expensive state for a roundtrip domestic flight. Looking at a six-year period, ARC found that from Jan. 1, 2006 through Dec. 31, 2011, the least expensive airfares were in Florida.

AIRLINE

Southwest looks beyond U.S. borders to Mexico, Caribbean

Southwest is becoming an international airline as it begins taking over AirTran Airways’ routes to Mexico and the Caribbean after the airlines’ merger. Southwest recently signed a deal for a new reservations system capable of handling international bookings and is seeking approval to build a new international terminal in Houston to add as many as 25 flights a day. “We have always wanted to get to a point where we added international capabilities,” said Southwest Chief Commercial Officer Bob Jordan.

AA ramps up personalization in selling and tailoring services

AA is making efforts to “personalize” air travel by offering tailored, relevant fares and services based on such customer attributes as previous itinerary searches, a traveler’s flight history and frequent-flyer status.

United Airlines withdraws preboarding privileges for families

United Airlines has dropped its policy allowing families with small children to board ahead of other passengers. Fliers with children not holding first- or business-class tickets must now board with their assigned boarding groups.

CRUISE

Royal Caribbean announces plans to upgrade reservations system

Royal Caribbean will undertake a five-year program to upgrade its reservations system, the company has announced. Through the $100 million initiative, the cruise line seeks to “help travel agents sell cruises more easily and service their clients more effectively by leveraging the latest technologies,” it says.

OTA

USTOA launches Facebook promotion

The U.S. Tour Operators Association has launched a travel sweepstakes through Facebook that is aimed at increasing consumer awareness of and participation in the packaged-travel industry. Four USTOA members — Pacific Delight Tours, Go Ahead Tours, Collette Vacations and Globus — have provided travel product worth $40,000 for Around The World With USTOA Sweepstakes, which will take place from May 29 through June 25, with one of four prizes awarded each week.

ETC.

Report: “Disney” is top keyword in searches for vacation destinations

An analysis by AdGooroo of keyword-search frequencies on the Internet has concluded that “Disney” is the most-searched travel destination from January through February 2012, at 7.3%. Las Vegas came in second at 6.3%, followed by Florida at 5.7% and the Caribbean at 3.2%. The study also showed a significant interest in deals, with 13.3% of keywords searched related to discounts.

Apple launches fitness vacation packages

Apple Vacations launched Fitcations, a fitness vacation program that kicks off with a weeklong Zumba party at the Now Amber Puerto Vallarta on June 16. The program is run in conjunction with Fit Bodies, an agency that places fitness, yoga and sport professionals at resort facilities for a teaching vacation.