Last week, Hurricane Emily slammed into resort areas of Mexico’s
Yucatan peninsula, but largely sideswiped Jamaica and several other
major Caribbean islands. In Cancun and Cozumel, tourists and
residents were forced to evacuate and many in the region lost
power, but most of the infrastructure was spared. Emily made
landfall north of Tulum on the Yucatan coast south of Cancun as a
Category 4 storm, with 135 mile-per-hour winds, according to the
National Hurricane Center. The most powerful part of the hurricane
reportedly passed over the popular resort island of Cozumel,
although damage was said to be minimal.
According to Jorge Vignet of the Cancun Convention and Visitors
Bureau (CCVB), damage in the Caribbean resort city was minimal,
consisting mainly of downed power lines. Full power was quickly was
restored in the hotel zone and the city’s airport reopened.
Similarly, a handful of resorts in the greater Cancun/Riviera Maya
area, including some on Cozumel, reported minimal damage.
The CCVB has posted videotaped eyewitness reports from U.S.
tourists and others in the region on their Web site
Free to Fax, Sort Of
President Bush recently approved the Junk Fax Prevention Act.
Under the new law, businesses are free to send commercial faxes
without prior consent from the recipient, so long as a business
relationship has been previously established. The Junk Fax
Prevention Act was supported by several trade groups and travel
‘Can You Hear Me Now?’
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will keep a ban on
cell phone use on commercial planes, at least for now, according to
reports. The two agencies that would have to approve cell phone use
the FAA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are
examining the issue. The FAA is investigating safety concerns about
the use of wireless devices interfering with flight control
systems, the Associated Press reported. The study is due in
December 2006. While tech companies and some travel groups support
lifting the ban, the AP reported, most of the public comments
received by the FCC are against the idea.
ASTA, G2 SwitchWorks Clear the Air
The American Society of Travel Agents and G2 SwitchWorks patched
up their differences, as G2 joined as an allied member and ASTA
acknowledged that airline ownership of the new distributor is
limited enough to pose little threat to travel agents.
Representatives of ASTA and G2 met May 12, nine days after ASTA
wrote a complaint to the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division,
requesting an investigation into the possibility that airlines
would again control a GDS through investment in G2.
Prior to that meeting, G2 had blasted ASTA for being
ill-informed about the company’s distribution business and
ownership. But ASTA disclosed and G2 confirmed that the investment
by seven domestic airlines in G2 is capped at 16 percent. The cap
for each domestic airline is 5 percent.
“Some airlines have received allocations [to be earned] of less
than 5 percent,” ASTA said. “We were further informed that the
investment-for-prepaid-segment-fees program is now closed to
further airline participation.”
ASTA said that it and the government “must remain vigilant”
about airline control of companies offering “GDS-like services.”
However, regarding G2, ASTA said it “has now concluded, based on
the representations made, that voting control of G2 SwitchWorks
rests with its venture capitalist investors and not the
G2 recently disclosed that it joined ASTA as an allied member,
and will exhibit at the ASTA World Congress.
“G2 joined ASTA in order to have exposure and open communication
with travel agents to better understand their needs,” a G2
Travel Officials Partner to Prevent Hotel
The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has partnered with
the National Tour Association (NTA), Interactive Travel Services
Association (ITSA) and the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) to
prevent the passage of a hotel occupancy tax on travel
intermediaries in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and California.
Over the past several years, according to officials, state
legislators have pushed to tax services provided by travel
intermediaries. Officials fear that this could decrease tourism in
these areas hitting local, independent hotels hardest as well as
smaller travel agencies that either absorb the tax or pass it onto
“With our partners, we will continue to be vigilant as tax
measures will resurface again next year particularly as states look
to refill state coffers with additional revenue,” said Kathy
Sudeikis, ASTA President and CEO.