L.A. OPENS TOURISM OFFICE IN CHINA
Los Angeles entered the history books Oct. 9 by becoming the first
city in the world to open a tourism office in Beijing. A proud Los
Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa personally opened the office
during a multi-city Asian trade mission in which he cited the
importance of tourism to the City of Angels. “The tourism industry
is critical to the economic health of Los Angeles employing
hundreds of thousands of Angelenos and pumping billions into our
local economy,” said Villaraigosa. “With the opening of the new
tourism office in Beijing, Los Angeles is putting down a permanent
welcome mat for the tens of millions of Chinese tourists who will
visit our great city in the coming years. More tourism means more
jobs and a healthier economy.”
The city’s tourism office in Los Angeles also plans to redouble
its efforts to entice both business and leisure travelers from
Presently, China is Los Angeles’ fastest-growing overseas
visitor market, generating an estimated $78 million in visitor
spending. Although the majority of Chinese travel to Los Angeles is
for business purposes, the number of leisure travelers is expected
to surge when restrictions on group travel are lifted in the next
By 2010, an estimated 50 million Chinese are expected to visit
the United States. And that number is projected to reach 100
million annual travelers by 2020, according to the World Tourism
By opening the new office, Los Angeles hopes to gain an
advantage in the quest for tourist dollars from China. The L.A.
Inc. tourism office will focus on attracting visitors from China’s
three largest cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The
tourism office will partner with Chinese airlines to promote the
Los Angeles International Airport and will also work with travel
agents to develop tour packages.
HAWAII TOURISM REMAINS UNSHAKEN
After being rocked by a 6.8-magnitude earthquake on Oct. 15, Hawaii
officials want to let the world know that the state is open and
ready for business. The effects of the quake continue to appear
minimal. All major highways statewide are open. Airports are
operating normally, officials said, and airlines are arriving and
departing as scheduled.
Although some have reported light damage, all hotels across the
state are open for business, including hotels and resorts in the
Kona-Kohala area of the Big Island closest to the epicenter, which
sustained superficial damage.
In addition, all hotels and resorts along the Kohala Coast Mauna
Kea Beach Hotel, Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel,
Fairmont Orchid, Hilton Waikoloa Village, Waikola Beach Marriott,
Kona Village and Four Seasons Resort Hualalai are operating
normally and honoring reservations.
The earthquake was centered under the ocean off the northwest
coast of Hawaii’s Big Island and was felt on all the major islands.
A 5.8-magnitude quake followed seven minutes later and numerous
smaller aftershocks were registered over the next few hours.
No one died or sustained serious injuries because of the quake,
according to reports.
For more information, go to TravelAgeWest.com and click on
KERZNER DIES IN HELICOPTER CRASH
Howard “Butch” Kerzner, CEO of Kerzner International Holdings, was
killed along with three others in a helicopter crash in the
Dominican Republic on Oct. 11. Kerzner International includes the
flagship Atlantis resort on Paradise Island, the Bahamas, the
One&Only luxury hotel chain and a number of casino and gaming
Kerzner, 42, the son of Sol Kerzner, chairman and founder of the
company, was in the Dominican Republic to survey potential
The crash occurred near the tourist resort area of Sosua on the
island’s north coast. Kerzner was on board with one additional
passenger and two pilots. There were no survivors.
Prior to his appointment as CEO in January 2004, Kerzner served
as president for eight years. He joined Kerzner International (then
called Sun International) in 1992.
Kerzner International, based in the Bahamas, will complete a $1
billion expansion of Paradise Island next spring, an initiative
directed by Kerzner, who also spearheaded a joint venture in the
United Arab Emirates to develop Atlantis, the Palm, in Dubai, set
to open in 2008.
He also expanded the firm’s luxury hotel portfolio, including
its five hotels on Mauritius that are part of the One&Only
Resorts’ global brand. Within Kerzner International’s casino
operations, Kerzner developed Mohegan Sun, a $330 million casino
resort in Uncasville, Conn., which opened in 1996. The casino’s
recently completed $1 billion expansion took place on Kerzner’s
watch, as well.
Paul O’Neil, former CEO of the company’s Paradise Island
operation and a current member of the company’s board of directors,
has been appointed acting CEO, effective immediately.
Kerzner is survived by his wife and two young children.
PASSPORT RULES FOCUS AT CTC
As government heads of tourism, travel agents and other members of
the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) gather for their annual
conference, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (commonly
known as the passport regulation) has taken center stage.
Congress’ recent ruling gave an extension until June 2009 for
returning cruise ship passengers to present passports, while those
returning by air must do so by Jan. 8, 2007.
In another push to have that latter deadline also moved to June
2009, CTO and the Caribbean Hotel Association have been joined by
the airlines and cruise lines to make their voices heard at the
highest levels of Congress and Homeland Security.
Other measures may include an advertising and public relations
campaign to alert the 75 percent of U.S. citizens without
passports. In addition, hotels have been offering incentives and
payment for passports. Officials hope this combined strength will
have some effect, as the rule strongly impacts on tourism in the
NTA’S TOUR & TRAVEL IMPROVEMENTS
Many delegates will see an increase in business appointments as the
National Tour Association introduced two enhancements to its
signature Tour & Travel Exchange. At the 2006 NTA Annual
Convention in Salt Lake City, NTA incorporated Direct Request
options and Consecutive Appointments to their scheduling system
this year. According to delegates’ pre-scheduled appointments, the
average number of appointments has increased by 11 percent within
the last year. The Direct Request scheduling feature helps
delegates secure more appointments before arriving in Salt Lake, as
well as allowing them to see other attendees’ schedules and request
The new Consecutive Appointments option provides tour operators
more time for product development, and during the
appointment-scheduling process, tour operators are also able to
book consecutive appointments.
MORE AIRBUS DELAYS
Airbus has confirmed a further delay to the deliveries of the A380
aircraft ordered by Singapore Airlines. The first A380 will now be
scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2007, and
deliveries of 18 subsequent aircraft will occur in 2008 and beyond.
Despite setbacks, the flight test and certification program is
proceeding well, officials said, and the delays are because of
production issues. The first of 19 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will
be delivered to the airline in November. Six of these aircraft will
be delivered before the end of 2006; 10 will be in service by
Singapore Airlines will remain the first to fly the new
super-jumbo, and, as was the case under the former delivery
schedule, will receive the first four aircraft.
Preferred Boutique, a member of the Preferred Hotel Group family of
brands, has selected six new member properties to add to its roster
of hotels and resorts. “We will continue to grow globally and
uncover exceptional hotels and resorts that discerning travelers
have come to associate with Preferred Boutique,” said spokeswoman
The recent additions to Preferred Boutique’s portfolio include:
The Lodge at Sea Island in Saint Simmons Island, Georgia; Los
Alamandas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Sherry Netherland in New York
City, N.Y.; Fifteen Beacon in Boston, Massachusetts; Egerton House
Hotel in London, England; and The Alchymist Grand Hotel and Spa in
Prague, Czech Republic.
FAREWELL TO A FRIEND
I’m writing to let your readers know that Mario D’Amato, a longtime
travel agent to the Italian community in Los Angeles, recently died
at age 72.
D’Amato started his career in Italy as a fighter pilot in the
Italian Air Force. He arrived in L.A. in 1960 and went to work for
Alitalia as a sales rep. In 1963, he opened his own travel agency
that specialized in travel for the Italian community of Los
He died on Sunday, Oct. 8, of heart failure. He leaves behind a
wife and three children, as well as many friends.
Ariel Shapiro, Global Network Travel, Los Angeles