Use what you have

New England

Sometimes, tourism product development simply means taking advantage of what you already have. Consider what’s happening with the cruise industry in New England and maritime Canada.

The region’s colorful autumn foliage once was the reason for a modest number of cruises, but consumer demand, an abundance of ships and the appeal of touring coastal communities have helped autumn cruise volume mushroom.

The Miami Herald’s Jay Clarke reported that regional cruise capacity (measured in bed days the way hotels count room nights) has risen 60 percent in four years to almost two million bed days. Eleven major cruise lines are churning the waters this fall.

Furthermore, ships linger beyond autumn now and offer summer trips. Holland America will start in April next year.

This growth can be a case study for many destinations. Are there ways to "offer fall color cruises in April" with what you already have in hand?

Competition + cooperation =

Sheraton Atlanta

It’s not just Shakespeare and Sarah Palin who can make up new words. The hotel industry is getting into the act with "co-opertition." What’s that, you ask? It’s when hoteliers meld competition with cooperation to chase business they couldn’t get on their own.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it’s a concept at work in more than one part of the city. For instance, the Hyatt Regency, the Marriott Marquis, the Hilton Atlanta and the Sheraton Atlanta formed the Atlanta Alliance (4,000 rooms and 460,000 square feet of meeting space).

Another example is the Buckhead Hotel Council, which collectively markets to visiting shoppers and leisure visitors. In all cases, each hotel sets its own prices and can’t share them without being accused of price fixing.

Erstwhile competitors in other travel industry segments might want to see whether previously imaginable alliances might work – even if those who care about the language "refudiate" the word "co-opertition."

Atlanta wins round in online hotel tax fight

Atlanta wins round in online hotel tax fight

A four-year-old lawsuit pitting Atlanta against 17 online hotel bookers over how much occupancy tax should be paid has been decided, and Atlanta is looking forward to some extra revenue. Much of it is earmarked for tourism promotion.

It’s a fight that has been waged in several cities. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the recent decision wasn’t a complete victory for the city since the judge determined the online reservation companies didn’t have to pay taxes retroactively. The city had alleged the companies paid taxes only on the rooms’ wholesale rates, not the rate they charge their customers.

It says 'visitor center,'
so why is the door locked?


Illinois is in a budget crunch, and one of the governor’s solutions was closing all 15 state visitors centers. The state’s Department of Economic Development and Economic Opportunity said the centers’ budget was more than $2 million a year.

Travel counselors were laid off and tourism literature was put in storage, but rest areas near most of the centers remain open.

"Unfortunately, there are some good programs you have to do without during tough times," Gov. Pat Quinn told The Chicago Tribune.

At midway point in travel year,
tour operators see good 2010

US Map globe

Members of the U.S. Tour Operators Association are a happy lot. An informal poll showed that 92 percent said business has been up since the beginning of the year, significantly exceeding their expectations.

"Pent up demand for travel, a somewhat stronger economy, and more discretionary income are some of the factors fueling the growth in travel bookings," said John Stachnik, USTOA chairman. "Business has picked up dramatically since the first of the year, with several record weeks." Sales of international tours, vacation packages and custom arrangements led the way, and domestic vacation bookings are up an average of 33 percent.

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August 2010

Americans shuffle deck
on most appealing
international destinations

For only the second time since 1997, Australia didn’t win the Harris Poll popularity contest for the country Americans want to visit most – if cost is no object.

Last year, the top five were Australia, Italy, Great Britain, France and Ireland, but the sequence changed substantially in the 2010 poll. And would it surprise you that men and women didn’t agree on the top spot?

$101 in taxes for a 3-day?

In a story that might make some local governments start wondering just how much to tax travelers, USA Today reported on a study from the National Business Travel Association that calculated a three-day trip to Chicago tallied $101.27 in sales, hotel, rental car and other travel-related taxes.

The study, which included some rather hefty food expenses, examined 50 cities. The tax tab was more than $85 in Seattle, Minneapolis, New York and Boston. The bottom of the list was $52.49 in Portland, Ore.

In a related story, business travel columnist David Grossman offered tips to reduce his car rental expenses, partly inspired by high airport taxes.

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