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November 30, 2009 Industry News

Travel Increase May Be Short-Lived

Forecasters predict that Thanksgiving travel will be up slightly this year, but the boost may not last long, says the Orlando Sentinel. According to the travelhorizons survey by Orlando-based Ypartnership and the U.S. Travel Association, 53 percent of U.S. adults plan to take at least one overnight leisure trip during the October-through-April period. Last year, the number was slightly higher-56 percent. The decline came despite many clients seeming more optimistic about 2010, said Peter Yesawich, CEO of Ypartnership. "The anecdotal evidence suggests we could see a bit of an increase," he said. The survey, which polled 2,300 households, found that only 18 percent planned to take a business trip during the six-month period. "Demand for travel is still driven by leisure," Yesawich said. "That's the good news for places like Orlando." (www.Orlando Sentinel.com/Business; Travel Advance, Nov. 23)

CDC Kicks Off Travelers’ Health Awareness Campaign

To help travelers avoid the flu this holiday season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched its largest ever public awareness campaign about staying healthy while traveling. "The holidays are one of the busiest travel times of the year," said Anne Schuchat, M.D., director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "People are in close contact-whether they're on a plane, train, ship or just visiting with loved ones. This campaign provides practical advice to help travelers prepare for their trips and stay healthy during their holiday travel."  The CDC is urging people to travel only when they are feeling well; get vaccinated for flu, both seasonal and 2009 H1N1 if they are in a priority group; wash hands often; and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve. (www.TravelPulse.com, 11/20; Travel Advance, Nov. 23)

Grand Canyon to Change Backpacker Permit System

The Grand Canyon National Park is changing the system for getting backcountry permits. Starting Feb. 1, 2010, the park will consider only written requests for backcountry permits four months in advance of trips.

The requests can be sent in by fax, by mail or hand-delivered, but all requests received each day by 5 p.m. will then be randomly ordered by computer for consideration for permits. The park said on its website that the procedural change means applicants "will no longer be able to walk in and have their requests receive immediate consideration." The old system was perceived as giving locals and those with the means to travel to the park to submit their requests an advantage over those trying to fax requests in.

The earliest you can get a backcountry permit for the canyon is four months in advance of a trip, so under the new system, the first day a request can be submitted in writing for a trip taking place in June would be Feb. 1, according to the park website.

The Arizona Daily Sun reported that one out of every two people who seeks permission to camp most places below the rim is denied because space is limited and there are so many applications. Eventually the park plans to move to an online reservation system. Also, the Park Service is not allowing any more individuals to establish commercial backpacking businesses until the agency sorts out a larger plan for the backcountry. (Associated Press; USA Today, Nov. 24)

STR Sees No Full Recovery for Hotels Until 2011

STR Global is projecting the U.S. hotel industry will report increases in all three key metrics in 2011, according to its updated forecast. STR's forecast projects 2011 occupancy to be up 2.4 percent to 56.2 percent, average daily rate to increase 3 percent to $96.81, and revenue per available room to jump 5.5 percent to $54.41. "For the first time since 2007, occupancy will improve in 2011," said Mark Lomanno, president of STR. "With that, we think that finally the industry will have the ability to raise room rates, though we think that it will be very mitigated ADR growth, about the 3 percent range. It won't nearly come close to getting back to 2007 levels, but will at least be the beginning stages of improvement." Demand for 2011 also is expected to end the year positive with a 3.2 percent increase. STR's revised forecast expects 2009 occupancy to end down 8.8 percent to 55 percent, ADR to drop 8.9 percent to $97.30 and revPAR to drop 17 percent to $53.52. (www.TravelPulse.com; Travel Advance, Nov. 25)

Report Predicts 11% Fall in Occupancy at Western Ski Resorts

October bookings for lodging at Western ski resorts jumped 25 percent from last year, but reservations for the whole ski season are still lagging, according to the latest numbers from the Mountain Travel Research Program. Ralf Garrison, president of Mountain Travel Research, which tracks lodging reservations at ski resorts in Western North America, said the current data indicate occupancy will be down 11 percent and rates will be down 10 percent. Still, early snow and strong sales of season passes are raising hopes in the industry. (www.TravelWeekly.com, 11/24; Travel Advance, Nov. 25)

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