HARTFORD, Conn. – Megabus is returning to the Hartford market.
The discount carrier says it will begin daily service next month from Hartford to New York City and Amherst, Mass.
Megabus is promising fares as low as $1 and also plans to give out 1,000 free tickets as a promotion between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15.
The carrier withdrew from the Hartford market last year, citing disappointing sales.
WASHINGTON – The United States is lagging behind nearly every other high-income country in reducing annual traffic fatalities, said a report released Tuesday by a federal research panel.
There’s some good news: U.S. traffic fatalities fell 9.7 percent in 2009 to 33,808, the lowest number since 1950. In 2008, an estimated 37,423 people died on the highways, a decline of 9.3 percent from the previous year.
But dramatic declines in traffic fatalities in the U.S. over the last several years are likely due to a sour economy in which people drive less, rather than lasting changes in behavior, the report suggests. As the economy improves, researchers said, fatalities are likely to rebound.
“The experience of the past three years is not grounds for concluding that sustainable progress has been made on traffic safety,” the report said.
In the 1970s, the U.S. fatality rate was the lowest in the world. But because safety efforts have improved more slowly in the United States than elsewhere, most high-income countries have now matched or gone below the U.S. rate, said the report by the Transportation Research Board.
Countries with comparable living standards where fatality rates per mile of travel were substantially higher than in the United States 15 years ago are now below the U.S. rate, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, France and the United Kingdom.
“The United States can no longer claim to rank highly in road safety by world standards,” the report said.
From 1995 to 2009, fatalities dropped 52 percent in France, 38 percent in the United Kingdom, 25 percent in Australia, and 50 percent in 15 high-income countries for which long-term fatality and traffic data are available, the report said. But they dropped only 19 percent in the U.S.
The dramatic declines in fatalities in other nations have been achieved in part through the kinds of programs that have sometimes generated opposition in the U.S: speed cameras and speed measuring devices, sobriety checkpoints and mandatory motorcycle helmets, for example.
If such programs were widely adopted in the U.S., it’s probable that thousands of lives could be saved each year, the report said.
Researchers estimated that nationwide, sustained and frequent use of checkpoints to detect drunk drivers could save 1,500 to 3,000 lives annually. Systematic speed control programs applied nationwide could save another 1,000 to 2,000 lives, the report said.
If every state required all motorcyclists wear helmets, about 450 deaths a year could be avoided, the report said. Increasing the rate of seat belt use just 5 percent — from the present 85 percent to 90 percent — would save about 1,200 lives.
“Where is the public outcry against these preventable deaths?” said National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman.
“Americans should strive for zero fatalities on the road. We should be leading, rather than following the international community when it comes to roadway design and safety measures,” Hersman said. “But it is a sad fact that the U.S. is in their rear view mirror and falling further behind the rest of the world when it comes to highway safety.”
Clinton Oster, an environment and public policy professor at the University of Indiana-Bloomington and chairman of the committee that wrote the report, said there was no “silver bullet” program that stood out.
Rather, transportation safety authorities in other countries that have been successful at reducing fatalities by taking a different overall approach, with an emphasis on demonstrating and documenting programs that work and then aggressively making their case for those programs with political leaders and the public, he said.
“I think we need to be much more systematic in developing clear goals, measuring results and making that information public,” Oster said. Other countries “work very hard to demonstrate these techniques actually do save lives.”
PARIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–liligo.com, the travel search engine, has uncovered the best weekend
travel deals of the season for visiting the most beautiful Christmas
Markets in Europe. Family, friends and loved ones won’t be able to
resist a quick holiday getaway at these prices!
From mid-November until late December, European cities and villages
alike with Christmas markets, open their doors to delight travellers
from around the world.
The market booths filled with toys inspire the young and the smells of
traditional foods cooking over open fires tempt the taste buds of the
old. For many travellers, these Christmas markets are the perfect reason
to search for travel
deals to Europe.
Many of these markets can be reached by combining cheap
flights from both low cost and regular airlines companies with cheap
hotels. Cheap weekend getaways are sure to take the stress off of
Christmas shopping, so enjoy!
London Budapest from 10/12 until 12/12
92£ per person with Wizz Air
Hotel Budapest 2*
Prague, Czech Republic
Flight London Prague from 17/12 until 19/12
126£ per person with Wizz
Hotel Prague 3*
Flight London Berlin from 09/12 until 13/12
85£ per person with Easyjet
Hotel Berlin 3*
Flight London Brussels from 09/12 until 13/12
114£ per person with Brussels
Hotel Brussels 3*
Flight London Copenhagen from 16/12 until 20/12
74£ per person with Bmi
Hotel Copenhagen 2*
London Vienna from 10/12 until 12/12
60£ per person with Ryanair
Hotel Vienna 3*
All deals found on www.liligo.co.uk
on Nov, 11th 2010. No guarantee on prices.
is the first travel
search engine to integrate more than 250 sites of which 70
are low cost in each search. liligo.com allows travellers to access
travel solutions easily from all corners of the web, sorted and
presented in a cohesive and objective manner. Comprehensive, exhaustive,
innovative, objective, liligo.com is dedicated to help the user find
their holidays and trips simply, the most effectively as possible.
Available in 10 domains, liligo.com is a product of Findworks
Technologies, an enterprise of 40 people.
Kristina Rundquist/Laura Gajewski
Alexandria, Va., Nov. 15 -With the busy travel season soon upon us, people are scrambling to find the best travel deals for their holiday travel. Increasingly, people are seeking the advice and expertise offered by professional travel agents such as those who belong to ASTA. But as with any professional relationship, finding the right person is the key to a successful and long-lasting partnership.
“When travelers work with ASTA travel agents they can take comfort in the fact that they are working with a professional who is held to, and abides by, a strict code of ethics,” said ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo. “One of the benefits of working with a travel agent is having someone on your side in the event something goes wrong, so it’s all the more important that you find the right travel agent to work with. Someone who will not only work with you to plan your vacations but act as your advocate.”
To find a reputable travel agent to make your travel dreams a reality, ASTA offers the following advice:
- Choose a travel agent like you would a doctor or lawyer. Get advice from friends and relatives who use an agent they trust.
- If possible, call or visit the agent. Since travel choices are personal decisions that reflect individual desires and lifestyles, consumers should visit or call several travel agencies to find the one that best suits their needs. Consider everything from the appearance of the office to the travel agent’s willingness to listen and answer questions. The best agents want to establish a long-term relationship with a client, not just make one sale.
•· Check out their credentials. A travel agency should belong to a professional group such as ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) or be credentialed by the Travel Institute. With more than 8,500 members in 120 countries, ASTA is the largest and most influential travel trade association in the world. Membership includes travel agencies, airlines, hotels, railroads, cruise lines, tour operators, car rental companies and travel schools.
- Do your homework. If the agent is an ASTA member, ASTA’s Consumer Affairs Department can inform travelers of complaints filed against the agent within the previous six months. If the agent is not an ASTA member, travelers should contact their local Better Business Bureau (BBB) for information. The BBB, however, will only have information on an agency if a complaint has been filed.
To find a reputable travel agent, ASTA’s consumer Web site, TravelSense.org features a ‘Find a Travel Agent’ directory, which allows site visitors to search for member agents by location, area of expertise and language. To learn more about ASTA and its members, please visit ASTA.org.
ASTA’s (American Society of Travel Agents) mission is to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. ASTA seeks a retail travel marketplace that is profitable, growing and a rewarding place to work, invest and do business.
Article source: http://www.asta.org/News/PRDetail.cfm?itemnumber=7228
Skip two movies or a week’s worth of venti-sized lattes and you could underwrite a Las Vegas getaway at the Excaliber hotel-casino, where rooms have been discounted to $22 a night.
The deal: The Lowest Rates Online offer starts at $22.40 per night, plus tax and resort fee, and includes a tower room a, free Jell-O shot at Dick’s Last Resort, free eats for up to two children 11 years and younger (with the purchase of two adult buffets) and $10 off the Steakhouse at Camelot.
When: The offer, which expires Nov. 26, is good for stays through Sept. 30, subject to availability and blackout dates.
Tested: It’s hard to believe that you could spend around $100 on a three-night stay in any big city, let alone Vegas. (I’ve run up a bigger tab camping, and had to bring my own sleeping bag and tent. ) I recommend reserving online because extra charges apply if you book by phone.
I checked the hotel’s website and found three nights starting Dec. 12 for a room with two queen-sized beds (sleeps four) for $75.26 including tax. Add another $34 (includes tax) for daily resort fees and the entire bill comes to $109.
In checking the hotel’s online reservation calendar, I also found many dates, mostly midweek, available in December for $22 plus tax per night. This deal has a long lead time, perfect for locking in cheap digs for a girls getaway or spring break escape. So step away from the lattes, and you’ve got a vacation paid for.
Contact: Excalibur, (877) 750-5464
CA – November 2010 – Families, friends, newlyweds and groups are in luck
as ResorTime.com announces the best travel deals of the year – Black
Friday on November 26. They have more than 300 resorts to choose from
year, ResorTime.com is celebrating the holidays with the biggest sale of
the season, Black Friday – offering $25 cash back for every booked reservation
with ResorTime.com. Find discounts up to 50% on condo rates starting from
$99 nightly from over hundreds of resort nationwide – including California,
Hawaii, New York and Florida.
never find incredible values like these on any other travel sites!” says
Kevan Savage, Director of Marketing for ResorTime.com, a popular site for
booking timeshare and resort condominium vacations in the U.S., Canada
and Mexico. “ResorTime.com will pay $25 to travelers who visit www.ResorTime.com
and book at any one of our resorts on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This
is a great deal for folks who want to experience spacious, luxurious accommodations
in excellent locations.”
more than 100 properties offering rates of $99 and under, you don’t need
to be a rocket scientist to figure out that taking advantage of this sale
is a no-brainer. “With the holidays right around the corner,” says Savage,
“we are encouraging first time and return visitors to discover the many
ways you can save money. With scores of resorts on the beach, in the mountains,
in the desert, near theme parks and in vibrant urban settings there are
plenty of choices.”
more information about ResorTime.com’s Black Friday Travel Sale, and to
sign up for the e-mail newsletter for exclusive updates and amazing deals,
is the leading provider for nightly timeshare resort condominium rentals
with hundreds of luxury resorts that accommodate leisure, business and
group travel. All ResorTime Hot Deals and Value Packages change on
an ongoing basis. For more information go to www.ResorTime.com
or call 877-867-6507.
Ernestini Dela Pena, 760-827-4167
Georgi Bohrod, 619-255-1661
Article source: http://hospitality-1st.com/PressNews/ResorTime-111610.html
If you were looking to book a room last weekend at the Grand Hyatt D-FW, you would have found a rate of $169 a night on Southlake-based Travelocity.com.
The exact same rate appeared on Orbitz.com. And on Dallas-based Hotels.com.
It’s no coincidence.
For years, major hotels and the online travel websites so crucial to putting heads in beds have performed a dance known in industry circles as “rate parity.”
That means the hotel agrees not to let any website charge less for a room than any other website, including the brand’s own site.
Sites are free to charge more, but in a down economy there’s been little appetite for that.
The effect, with a few exceptions, is that the online price for a room in a given hotel on a given day is the same no matter which major website you check – an approach that runs counter to the way most bargain shoppers use the Internet.
Now the owner of a tiny discount travel website in the U.K. has persuaded the country’s Office of Fair Trading to look into rate parity. The move by the U.K.’s chief antitrust enforcer is expected to bring scrutiny to major hotels and websites, including many based in the United States.
Experts in the U.S said they know of no such inquiry here, and federal regulators aren’t talking.
Many in the hotel industry say rate parity is needed to keep online sites from undercutting hotels’ own prices. But the British discounter calls the program noncompetitive. He and others argue that consumers would be better off if parity perished.
“I don’t know that there’s been enough public questioning of this practice,” said Ashwin Kamlani, founder of Hotel Internet Help Inc., which helps independent hotels get more sales via cyberspace.
“It’s such a commonly accepted practice. I don’t know why it hasn’t reached a point where it’s become a government issue.”
$28 billion business
Booking hotels online is a roughly $28 billion business, said Carroll Rheem, director of research for PhoCusWright, a Connecticut-based travel research firm.
About 60 percent of online bookings are done directly with hotels, with the balance falling to online travel agents.
Rate parity, launched as a defensive move by hoteliers as online travel sites began gaining clout, dates back nearly 10 years, according to Hotel Marketing.com, a trade website.
Now, most major online travel sites have contract language that guarantees them rates as low as any online competitor. And they use website-scouring robots to make sure everyone toes the line.
The uniform requirement does not apply to special deals for rooms paid for in advance or for membership discounts with AAA or AARP. And it doesn’t apply to so-called opaque sites, such as Hotwire, where the consumer agrees to pay a rate before knowing the name of the hotel. Some in the travel industry say the practice helps consumers by reducing time spent cybershopping.
“This is a standard industry practice,” said Nancy St. Pierre, a spokeswoman for Sabre Holdings, which operates Travelocity.com.
It’s done in part “so that the customer can have the confidence that they will get the best rate, that they don’t have to go on 18 different sites,” she said.
Kimberly Hutcherson, director of sales at the Hampton Inn Dallas-Irving-Las Colinas Hotel, calls herself a “believer in rate parity.”
“If you’re selling a product that’s worth it, you need to stick to that price,” she said. “It leaves the brand with the control of the rate.”
Complaints to site
Championing the opposite view is Dorian Harris, director of Skoosh.com, based in Brighton in the U.K. He likens the practice to price fixing.
Harris said that in the last year, he has received up to 10 irate phone calls or e-mails a day from hotels complaining about his online discounts.
He said he ultimately pulled the hotels off his site, dropping the number of properties available for booking from 65,000 to about 40,000.
Critics note that Skoosh has been subject to consumer complaints. Harris said the complaints, many related to reservation problems, are “very few in proportion to our business.”
Beyond that, he said, “this isn’t Skoosh’s case. No one is particularly interested in Skoosh as a company per se, least of all the Office of Fair Trading.”
To Harris, the issue is how parity undermines his ability to undercut competitors.
“When I go shopping online, I don’t expect to see the same price everywhere,” Harris said. “That’s the reason I shop online.”
St. Pierre was aware of the British probe but said her company had not been contacted.
A spokesman for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission declined to comment. The antitrust division of the Justice Department did not respond.
St. Pierre disputed the notion that the practice amounts to price fixing and stressed that hotels are not required to participate in rate parity.
“That’s purely a business decision on their part,” she said.
Lower on list
For hotels that do not agree, “you will be … lower in the search [results] list than hotels that do want to offer” parity, she said. Like Google, online travel agents use search engine technology to control where a property pops up on the search results list.
And back-end placement, Kamlani said, can be the kiss of death, since consumers usually choose from the top of the list.
“The hotels enforce rate parity because they fear the consequences of not maintaining rate parity,” he said. “They fear having their hotel dropped to page 6 or even pulled off their largest producing [online travel agents] sites, which translates into a potentially significant loss of revenue.”
Kamlani doesn’t think rate parity is going away, at least in the U.S. But he also doesn’t think the “burden” of enforcing it “should fall on the shoulders of the hotels.”
Imagine if every computer maker that also sold directly to consumers had to make certain that Wal-Mart did not undercut Target.
Others argue that hotels should enforce the policy because they benefit and they set the rates.
Even with most hotels and most major websites backing rate parity, there are still deals to be found, said Chicke Fitzgerald, chief executive at Solutionz Holdings, a travel consulting firm specializing in the use of technology.
“They intend for there to be rate parity,” she said of hotels, but there are still “a plethora of [discounted] rates for a given property that blows that argument pretty much away. It’s not as neat and clean as that. It’s so hard for the hotels to control.”
From a profit standpoint, Fitzgerald said rate parity has helped the hotel industry avoid deep online discounting that has been so damaging to the airline industry.
“If I need $80 or more [per room] just to break even and I let Expedia sell at $75, I may never be able to sell” at $80, she said. “I would have to shut my doors. And that’s not good for the consumer either.”<!– Image1 start // MICHAEL HOGUE/Staff Illustration
// Image1 end –>
WASHINGTON – Officials are defending new anti-terrorism security procedures at the nation’s airports that some travelers complain are overly invasive and intimate.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says in a USA Today opinion piece that body scanners used at many airports are safe and the images viewed in private.
She says pat-downs have been used for years at airports and measures are in place to protect travelers’ privacy.
The head of the Transportation Security Administration, John Pistole, said Monday on NBC’s “Today” show that “everybody wants the best possible security” and the TSA is looking for a balance between security and privacy.
Some travelers fear the scanners may produce unhealthy radiation and complain the pat-downs, which can include touching the inside of travelers’ thighs and feeling their buttocks, are too personal.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – The throngs of tourists from Canada and other nations came to the palm-fringed Grand Riviera Princess hotel for luxury vacations and seaside honeymoons. None suspected that this slice of paradise was apparently sitting atop a ticking time bomb.
The sprawling compound was built four years ago on a particularly swampy patch of Mexico’s Caribbean coastline and may have been accumulating a deadly brew of explosive gases that ignited over the weekend, killing five Canadian visitors and two Mexican employees, officials said Monday.
Investigators are focusing their probe of Sunday’s blast on gases from rotting vegetable matter or waste, although some experts consulted by The Associated Press said such a buildup would be unheard of.
The official in charge of inspecting the 676-room resort in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun, said the buildup was unexpected and went undetected in an inspection four or five months ago that included checks for dangerous gases.
Results from recent inspections “were quite good,” Playa del Carmen Civil Defense director Jesus Puc said. He added, however, that the inspectors’ equipment is designed to detect butane used in cooking, not the type of gas emitted by swamps.
Puc declined to specify what gas was likely involved or how long it took to accumulate in deadly amounts, saying those are questions to be answered in an investigation that is just beginning.
But he said authorities have requested new equipment capable of detecting swamp gases and plan to check other hotels in the area in the coming days.
Asked how many resorts could be at risk, Puc demurred, saying there are “many, many hotels in the area,” though “not all of them have such swampy areas.”
Ecologist and environmental activist Roberto Cudney called the explosion a predictable consequence of constructing resorts in the mangrove swamps that line the coast of the posh Riviera Maya.
“It makes complete sense,” said Cudney, who works for the environmental group Mexico Silvestre, based on the island of Cozumel just offshore from Playa de Carmen. “When you build over the mangrove … it doesn’t take away the whole ecological process that’s going on there. You still have water filtration, you still have a lot of organic material,” the breakdown of which releases gas.
“It’s just one of those things that weren’t taken into account and now (Mexican authorities) are going, ‘Oops,’” Cudney said.
Still, other experts cast doubt upon the swamp gas hypothesis.
Gabriela Lima, the head of the Environment Department for Quintana Roo state, where the resort is located, said the theory “sounds a bit strange.”
“If that were the case, we’d have to see explosions throughout the Yucatan Peninsula every now and then, and we never have. This is something unique,” Lima told the AP.
The hotel’s construction permits for the hotel were in order, Lima said
Adriana Rivera of the Office of the Attorney General for Environmental Protection said that in the agency’s 18 years of existence, there was no record of a similar incident in a hotel, adding that such blasts are typically seen in factories or places where caustic or flammable materials are stored.
Grand Riviera Princess representatives were not immediately available to take phone calls seeking comment Monday.
Sunday’s blast blew out windows in a lounge area, littering the lawn with shards of glass and metal debris, and left behind a crater 3 feet (1 meter) deep.
Guests said it was so powerful it sucked the air out of the thatched-roofed buildings.
“The velocity of the air coming back was incredible, so people were thrown around all over the place in the rooms and hallways,” said Carson Arthur, a 39-year-old from Toronto who was vacationing with six friends.
“There were several people in the debris. There was a lot of people wounded from flying glass,” he said.
Among the dead was Malcolm Johnson, a real estate agent from British Columbia, who traveled to Mexico last week to get married, his friend David Komo said in an interview.
Johnson’s new bride and 1-year-old daughter were with him in Mexico, Komo said.
Also killed were 41-year-old oil industry worker Chris Charmont and his 9-year-old son, John, from Alberta.
Family friend Tammi Garbutt said the two went down for something to drink right before the blast. Charmont’s wife, Terra, and their 10-year-old daughter, Megan, stayed up in the room.
In addition to the dead, three Canadians and three Mexican employees remained hospitalized with injuries suffered in the blast. They were all in stable condition and were expected to recover, said Francisco Alor, attorney general of Quintana Roo.
Most guests were Canadians in town for a convention or sunny winter getaways.
Tourism to Mexico, the nation’s No. 3 source of foreign revenue, has only recently begun recovering from a downturn caused by soaring drug violence, last year’s swine flu epidemic and the world economic crisis.
Canada’s foreign affairs minister stopped short of discouraging travel to Mexico.
“It’s an unfortunate accident. There’s been loss of life. And it is a tragedy,” Lawrence Cannon said in a news conference Monday in Montreal. “But I am sure that within the next few weeks and months, the government of Mexico will be able to shed all of the light on this incident.”
Associated Press writers Mark Stevenson and Jenny Barchfield in Mexico City and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.
HELENA, Mont. – Two Montana business groups are joining the online travel companies in an ongoing dispute with the state over hotel bed taxes now that the Department of Revenue is rewriting its rules aimed at the big companies.
The Montana Chamber of Commerce and the Montana Taxpayers Association say the state is overreaching by using the rule-making process to go after the online companies.
Earlier this month the Montana Department of Revenue sued more than a dozen online travel companies, arguing the companies shortchange the state on hotel taxes. The ongoing dispute has involved Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who publicly challenged the corporate leaders at an economic development function in Butte over the summer.
Now the Department of Revenue is getting ready to publish new rules that appear to recast implementation of the hotel bed tax to make it clear that the online travel industry is supposed to pay tax on the retail amount it collects from consumers. The state says the changes are simply being made to bring the rules up to date with current practices, and are nothing more than simple housekeeping.
Lee Baerlocher, a bureau chief with the agency, said the changes have nothing to do with the lawsuit.
Right now, the bed tax is only collected on the wholesale price of the room given to the hotel. The Schweitzer administration argues that the tax should be collected on the amount that online travel companies like Travelocity and Expedia charge the customer.
The industry argues that the difference between the wholesale and retail amounts in online bookings is so small that the tax would only generate an extra $100,000 for the state. The state counters it won’t know what it is owed until its agents can look at the company books.
Jon Bennion, government relations director for the Chamber of Commerce, says it appears to him that the state is trying to use an administrative rule-making process to enact policy that failed in the Legislature.
Bennion also argued that the rule seems like it would apply to Montana-based travel agents, who he thinks would now have to pay more taxes. All of it could hurt the travel industry, he said.
“It is really puzzling to see what the department is doing here that could have a negative impact on tourism in Montana,” Bennion said.
Mary Whittinghill, president of the Montana Taxpayers Association, said she thinks it is clear the law only requires that the owner of the hotels pay the tax on what they collect, not booking agents.
“Our biggest concern is application of the tax law. We don’t think the statue provides for the taxation other than what is described as the money collected by the accommodations provider,” she said.
The Interactive Travel Services Association, an umbrella group for the online travel booking industry, opposed the new rules the agency could implement as soon as next week. It argues that the state doesn’t have justification in law to write new rules that impose the tax on businesses that are neither owners nor operators of hotels.
“The Department of Revenue appears to be trying to overrule the Legislature and make its own policy,” said Andrew Weinstein, spokesman for Interactive Travel Services Association. “Clearly online travel companies neither own nor operate a hotel.”