Friday, June 29, 2007

"Competition: Commission ends block exemption for IATA passenger tariff conferences for routes between the EU and non-EU countries"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "The European Commission has decided not to renew a Block Exemption Regulation that exempts IATA passenger tariff conferences concerning air routes between the EU and non-EU countries from the EC Treaty’s ban on restrictive business practices (Article 81). Tariff conferences allow airlines to agree prices for multi-leg flights on the same ticket that use more than one carrier. The exemption expires on 30 June 2007 for routes between the EU and the US or Australia, and on 31 October 2007 for routes between the EU and other third countries (see IP/06/1294 and MEMO/06/359). IATA has not supplied data that would allow the Commission to conclude that an exemption would continue to benefit passengers. IATA is now developing a new interlining system to replace passenger tariff conferences: this will not be covered by a block exemption and, as is the case for other sectors of the economy, it will be for IATA and individual carriers to ensure that their agreements are compatible with the competition rules."

This Press Release is available in full text.

USA: Bush administration under pressure over travel rule

The public and various US lawmakers are clamoring for changes to the Bush administration's controversial Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). This comes as news of the United States Department of Homeland Security recently implemented some changes to the travel rule because of a huge backlog in passport applications.
Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee and the full House unanimously voted to delay implementation of WHTI anytime before June 2009. The full Senate must now vote and is expected to consider the rule's delay in coming weeks.
This action comes after the Bush administration announced earlier this month it will delay the air requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative due to extensive delays in processing passport applications. US citizens are now allowed to travel by air with a government issued photo identification and Department of State official proof of application for a passport now through Sept. 30, 2007.
Meanwhile, the National Tour Association (NTA) has said it believes the requirements of the WHTI should not take effect until June 2009 at the earliest, as supported by legislation currently in Congress.

Source: eTurboNews; full article available here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Senate Commerce Committee Reports Bills Promoting Travel to U.S. [...]"

"WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation reported four bills today, including the Travel Promotion Act of 2007, which promotes international travel to the United States through a non-profit Corporation for Travel Promotion.
“The travel and tourism industry is a driving force for our nation’s economy,” said Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii). “The Travel Promotion Act will attract visitors to America and improve our nation’s image abroad, all while bettering our nation’s economy.”
“This legislation will help increase the number of foreign tourists who visit the United States by creating a robust travel promotion campaign,” said Commerce Committee Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). “This bill is particularly important to my home State of Alaska, where the travel and tourism industry is the second largest private sector employer. More than 24,000 Alaskans hold tourism-related jobs, and the industry contributes more than $2 billion to our State’s economy each year.”

S. 1661, Travel Promotion Act of 2007
Introduced by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), with the original cosponsorship of Chairman Inouye and Vice Chairman Stevens, the Travel Promotion Act of 2007 would establish a non-profit Corporation for Travel Promotion (Corporation) and establish the Office of Travel Promotion within the Department of Commerce headed by the Under Secretary for Travel Promotion, to promote international travel to the United States.
The Corporation would be comprised of a 15-member board consisting of representatives of states, the federal government, higher education, and the travel industry, who would use advertising, among other means, to encourage travel to all regions within the United States, and correct misperceptions overseas regarding U.S. travel policies. The bill would authorize the Corporation to borrow $10 million from the Treasury in 2008 to cover its initial expenses but require the Corporation to pay the funds back by 2012. Starting in 2009, the Corporation would be required to raise non-federal funds, including in-kind contributions. Based on the amount raised by the Corporation, up to $100 million in federal matching funds would be made available annually from the Travel Promotion Fund established in the Treasury. The Travel Promotion Fund would be financed by a $10 user fee, which would be imposed on international travelers to the U.S. under the visa waiver program. United States taxpayers will not bear the cost of supporting the Corporation.
The Under Secretary would serve as liaison to the Corporation, work with the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State Department to improve the entry and departure experience for international visitors, and promote travel into and within the country.
As amended, the bill also would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a model port of entry program at the 20 airports with the highest number of foreign travelers arriving annually. The Secretary is further directed to hire 200 additional Customs and Border Protection officers to address staffing shortages at the 20 airports, subject to appropriations."
As stated by the Public Information Office.

"Airlines black list : new measures against unsafe carriers"

According to the EU Press Room, "The European Commission has received the unanimous opinion of its Air Safety Committee on the fourth update of the Community list of airlines banned in the European Union. On this basis, an operating ban to all Indonesian airlines as well as to the Angolan flag carrier, TAAG Angolan airlines, and to Volare Aviation Enterprise from Ukraine, should be imposed in the coming days. The restrictions imposed on Pakistan International Airlines will be modified. In addition, airlines from Russia (10), Bulgaria (6), and Moldova (8) will stop to operate in the European Union on the basis of new measures adopted by these States following consultations with the European Commission."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Airport tax at Malta Airport: Commission takes Malta to the Court of Justice"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "The European Commission considers the airport tax levied at Malta International Airport to discriminate between air passengers. The Commission has therefore decided today to lodge a formal complaint to the European Court of Justice. Air passengers travelling from Malta to other EU Member States will benefit from eliminating the discriminatory effects of the airport tax.
The airport tax is discriminatory as it is only levied on air passengers beginning an international journey from Malta airport, but not levied if the passenger had started the journey outside Malta. The tax therefore puts an unfair burden on residents in Malta, and makes it more difficult for them to receive and provide services in other Member States [Article 49 of the EC Treaty].
Furthermore, domestic destinations are exempted from the airport tax. According to the Commission the airport tax should not differentiate between domestic and other intra-Community flights.
The Court case constitutes the third step in the relevant infringement procedure. First, a letter of formal notice was sent to Malta on 4 July 2006, and then a reasoned opinion was delivered on 15 December 2006."

Florida: 2007 Tourism Leadership Summit

The third annual Tourism Leadership Summit, featuring some of travel and tourism’s best and brightest minds, is scheduled for the 19th to 21st of September, 2007, at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando. Organized and presented by Skål International Orlando, the program is open to any senior executive in the industry worldwide. It is unique in that its emphasis is on personal development of the attendee with attendance limited to no more than 200, allowing participants excellent networking opportunities with fellow decision makers.

Source: ForImmediateRelease.Net; read full article here.

"Unified tourism authority planned"

According to The Japan Times Online, "The transport ministry is planning to integrate its tourism-related divisions into a single authority in fiscal 2008 to better attract international visitors and help reinvigorate local areas through tourism, officials said Tuesday.
Under the goal of making tourism a major industry, the government is trying to increase the annual number of foreign tourists to 10 million by 2010, and the planned authority would help spur those efforts, the officials said.
The launch of such an authority has been urged by both Diet chambers in resolutions following the enactment in December of a basic tourism promotion law, as well as by the travel and transport industries.
About 7.33 million foreign tourists visited Japan in 2006, compared with about 17.53 million Japanese tourists going abroad, which the government aims to increase by 2010 to 20 million."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"EU Commission set to quash Ryanair's Aer Lingus bid"

As reported by David Lawsky, of Reuters UK, "Ryanair, Europe's biggest budget airline, will lose its attempt to take over Irish rival Aer Lingus when the European Commission vetoes the bid on Wednesday, sources familiar with the matter say.
The Commission, executive arm of the European Union, will take the unusual step of blocking the unsolicited bid in order to prevent the two carriers from becoming a single, dominant operator at Dublin Airport and stifling competition there."
Read this article in full text, here.

Germany: Tour Operator liable for thrown shoes

Plaintiff claimed for damages suffered from an accident which occurred when she attended an evening acitivity at the holiday club where she spent her holidays on a package tour. As part of a game the presenter of the evening perfomance had told a child on the stage: "I bet your mum won't be able to collect 60 different shoes within two minutes" when people in the audience began to throw over their shoes to the stage. One stiletto-heeled shoe hit plaintiff who was sitting in the first row at the back of her head.
German Supreme Court (BGH) in a decision of 12. June 2007 held that the tour operator was liable as the accident constituted a defect of the performance of his contractual obligations because the presenter of the show acting as auxiliary person of the tour operator when offering the bet could have foreseen that some people might throw shoes to the stage and had failed to enjoin the audience from doing so.

Source: BGH press release 82/2007.

Monday, June 25, 2007

"Travel Trade Group Spent $250K Lobbying"

According to, "The Travel Industry Association of America, whose members include airlines, hotels and tourism agencies, spent $250,000 in second half of 2006 lobbying the federal government, according to a disclosure form.
The trade group lobbied on numerous issues, including visas, border security and National Park Service funding, according to the form posted online Thursday by the Senate's public records office.
Delta Air Lines Inc., Marriott International Inc. and American Express Co. are among the dozens of companies, state and territorial tourism offices and federal agencies that are members of the Washington-based trade group.
Under a federal law enacted in 1995, lobbyists are required to disclose activities that could influence members of the executive and legislative branches. They must register with Congress within 45 days of being hired or engaging in lobbying." (The links were added)

Friday, June 22, 2007

19th Conference of IFTTA: Portugal (11-14 October)

The organizational framework and the Program of the 19th Conference of IFTTA - the International Forum of Travel and Tourism Advocates are now fully implemented.

This event will take place in Southern Portugal from the 11th to the 14th October and there will be presented papers by Participants coming from Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa, that will deal with the Developments in Travel Law, Moral Damages for Ruined Holidays and Land Planning and Tourism Development, besides the National Reports and Other Subjects.

It should be underlined that the Conference is one of the references of the Calendar of International Tourism Events of UNWTO - the World Tourism Organization.

All those that intend to participate should, as soon as possible, Register and arrange, directly, their Hotel Reservations, taking advantage of the huge discounts negotiated by the Organization.

"Taipei PR officer in Beijing to promote tourism"

As reported by the China Post, "Taipei city government's top publicity official, Yang Hsiao-tung, left for Beijing yesterday mainly to promote Taiwan tourism at the 2007 Beijing International Tourism Expo slated for June 21-23.
Yang is expected to officiate at the opening of the Taiwan Pavilion at the expo, which will be showcasing tourism attractions in Taiwan.
Yang is the first Taipei city official to visit Beijing since Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin assumed office early this year.
In a brief interview with CNA at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport before his departure, Yang said he will join other private operators to promote Taiwan's tourism attractions, including travel to hotspring resorts, at the expo and will promote 'city exchanges' between Taipei and Beijing, and other Chinese cities and countries from around the world.
Yang, who also serves as a spokesman for Taipei City Hall, said the Taiwan Pavilion will be positioned independently at the expo -- not in the domestic area nor in the international area -- to avoid Taiwan from being 'dwarfed.'." Read more...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

EU: Revision of the Timeshare Directive

On 7 June 2007 the Commission adopted a proposal for a new Directive which will enhance consumer protection by extending the scope of the current rules to also include the new products which have emerged in the market, such as holiday clubs. Resale and exchange will also be covered. The new rules should ensure that consumers are equally well protected across the EU and will create a level playing field in the market for timeshare and other holiday-related products.
Recognising the problems that timeshare consumers are facing, the proposal adopted by the Commission aims at closing these regulatory gaps, by replacing the Timeshare Directive with a set of clear, modern and simplified rules.
An updated version of the proposal for a Directive on the protection of consumers in respect of certain aspects of timeshare, long-term holiday products, resale and exchange (last update 20-06-2007) is available here.

Source: European Comission, DG Health and Consumer Affairs.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

ASTA's Third Legislative Summit held in Washington, D. C.

On June 12, ASTA held its third Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C., which brought together close to 60 of ASTA's politically minded members and key government officials from such government entities as the Departments of State, Transportation and Homeland Security for the purpose of sharing critical information and opening a dialogue with the travel agent community. Participants had a chance to learn about many up-to-the-moment travel issues, such as the latest passport regulation changes and had the chance to engage in Q-and-A sessions such as the one held with Ann Barrett, deputy assistant secretary of state for passport services with the Department of State. Keynote speaker Andrew Steinberg, assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs, Department of Transportation, spoke on the topics of airline consolidation, customer service and open skies agreements.
The mission of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) 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 and growing and a rewarding field in which to work, invest and do business.

Source: ForImmediateRelease.Net / Read full article here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

"Commission and FAA launch transatlantic action plan to cut emissions"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "Jacques Barrot, European Commission Vice-President responsible for transport, and Marion Blakey, Administrator of the United States Federal Aviation Administration, today launched - in the presence of aircraft industry representatives - a transatlantic emission-reduction initiative called AIRE."

This Press Release is available in full text.

"Illegal travel operations boom" in Vietnam

As reported by the VietNamNet Bridge, "At a conference seeking measures to attract foreign tourists to Vietnam held by the VNAT in late April 2007, the representative of the Ministry of Public Security’s Immigration Management Agency confirmed that there were more than 100 illegal Korean tour guides operating at Tan Son Nhat Airport.
According to Vietnam’s Tourism Law, foreign tour guides are not allowed to work in Vietnam. VNAT inspectors said that there were three forms of illegal tourism in Vietnam. The first is travel companies that are allowed to offer local tourism services but still sell outbound tours to tourists. The second is tour guides seeking travellers themselves and the third is operating in the name of foreign companies.
The current fine imposed on illegal travel operations is only VND10 million (US$620), which is too modest, according to Pham Huynh Loc, chief tourism inspector." Read more...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

$1 flights too much for Hawaii based airline "go!"

In a 12-hour promotion marking its one-year anniversary, go! began offering 1,000 one-way interisland tickets for $1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today that only can be purchased online at An influx of traffic overloaded the Web site and many prospective buyers were met with error messages. The system finally came up shortly after 3 p.m. — eight hours after it shut down. In response to the system crash, go! added 1,000 additional $1 tickets and extended the deadline until midnight.
Go!, which debuted on June 9, 2006, with promotional $19 fares, constantly has lowered the bar in a market that had seen ticket prices close to $100 each way for interisland travel. Hawaiian and Aloha have decried the money-losing low fares because they’ve been forced to match to stay competitive, but have been losing money on those flights in the process.

Source: Honolulu Star Bulletin. Read full article here.

Several EU memeber states late in transposing Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices

The Directive was published in the Official Journal on 11 June 2005 and its provisions must be applicable in the Member States by 12 December 2007. The Commission is working with the Member States and stakeholders to make sure that the Directive is transposed into national law in a timely and accurate manner.
The deadline for transposition is 12 June 2007. Several Member States are late in transposing the Directive into their national laws. The Commission will take all necessary steps to address late or inadequate transposition.

Source: European Comission, DG Health and Consumer Protection. More inforamtion here.

"Sri Lanka: Tourism Police Division"

As reported today by Quintus Perera at the Asian Tribune, the "Ministry of Tourism, Sri Lanka Tourist Board and the Police Department working together established a Tourist Police Division and its head office would be located at the Sri Lanka Tourist Board Premises, to coordinate, facilitate and service the needs of the in-bound and out-bound tourists.
Milinda Moragoda Minister of Tourism declared open the Tourist Police Division and Victor Perera, Inspector General of Police and Renton De Alwis, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourist Board associated the Minister.
Moragoda speaking at the occasion said that the establishment of this Tourist Police Division would ensure the eradication of harassing the tourists and to provide a conducive environment for them to enjoy the hospitality and the nature, culture, adventure of Sri Lanka.
He said that they are hard at work to build confidence of the tourists under the present situation and they are constantly discussing all the intricate matters with the stakeholders. He said that one of such confidence building activity is the setting up of this police division which would exclusively serve the travel industry." Read more...

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Agriculture Council: Agreement on clearer use of the sales description 'veal'"

According to the EU Press Room, the "European Union agriculture ministers today agreed to clarify the marketing conditions for meat from bovine animals aged twelve months or less. The new rules will require the use of fixed sales descriptions for these meats in the various Member States coupled with an indication of the age category of the animals at slaughter. The aim is to improve the transparency on the market and to help consumers to recognise precisely what they are buying. The change follows lengthy discussions with all interested parties, including an internet consultation on consumers' understanding of the term 'veal'. It comes in the wake of requests from the trade and from Member States for clearer rules to reflect the different production systems in different Member States. This regulation will enhance the functioning of the Single Market and provide better information for consumers."

This Press Release is available in full text.

Czech airline takes legal action against U.S. tuberculosis patient

The Czech state run airline CSA said Thursday it was taking legal action against an American tuberculosis patient who set off an international health scare. CSA spokeswoman Daniela Hupakova said the airline filed a criminal complaint on May 31 on suspicion of spreading an infectious disease. In the Czech Republic, the charges carry a maximum three-year prison term.

Source: Read full article here.

Friday, June 08, 2007

EU "Member States agree on including aviation in emissions trading"

The German Presidency of the EU has just announced that "In Luxembourg today, the EU Transport Council, chaired by the German Council President, Wolfgang Tiefensee, adopted conclusions on the inclusion of aviation in emissions trading. This means that Europe will have a common position at the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which will be held in Montreal in September. Speaking in Luxembourg, the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, said: 'Every mode of transport, including the air mode, has to make its contribution to tackling climate change.' more |||>"

Note: Further developments are available at the Page built built by the Environment DG of the European Commission.

Traditional tour operators fight back against online travel companies

Major travel groups are responding to fierce competition from online travel agents, such as Expedia and Travelocity, in the fight for the lucrative online travel retail industry. The global e-travel market has developed significantly over the last 10 years, causing severe problems for traditional high-street travel agents. Online sales accounted for a 19.5% share of the global retail travel sector in 2006, the majority of which were made via online travel agents. In the UK, online bookings increased from 7% in 2002, to 35% of all bookings in 2006, according to Euromonitor International. Traditional tour operators are realising the potential in this channel and now view the Internet as the only way forward. Traditional tour operators are improving their online facilities and investing in their websites in order to compete with online travel agents. Thomson, for example, recently enhanced its main website with a raft of new features and content, in an attempt to retain customers and encourage them to book through the site. It also introduced additional editorial content to help consumers, as well as to enable the site to be picked up by Google in natural searches.

Source: Read full article here.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

"EU steps up protection for holiday makers for Timeshare holidays and holiday discount club"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "Consumers across the EU will benefit from tougher holiday protection - when they buy and resell timeshare holidays, timeshare-like holidays on cruise boats, canal boats or caravans and popular 'discount holiday clubs' - under new rules proposed by the European Commission today. The aim is to further boost consumer confidence in the Timeshare industry (worth over €10.5 billion and responsible for more than 40,000 jobs across the EU) and to eliminate the rogue traders which can bring legitimate operators into disrepute and cause consumers problems. The 1994 EU Timeshare Directive gives consumers basic rights to clear information, a ban on deposits and right to withdraw and change their mind. The new proposals published today aim to tackle loopholes in the current rules. Most importantly they will extend the scope of the 1994 EU Timeshare Directive to cover new products which have emerged on the market – like discount holiday clubs, and 'timeshare-like' holidays on cruise boats, canal boats and caravans - and extend protection to important areas like timeshare resale and exchange clubs. The new rules should ensure that consumers are equally well protected across the EU and will create a level playing field in the market for timeshare and certain other holiday-related products."

This Press Release is available in full text as well as Questions and Answers page on this issue.

Monday, June 04, 2007

"Mergers: Commission approves proposed acquisition of First Choice by TUI, subject to conditions"

According to the EU Press Room, "The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of First Choice, a UK travel services company, by TUI, parent of the German TUI group, active in tourism and shipping services. The Commission's decision is conditional upon the divestiture by TUI of its Irish business operating under the 'Budget Travel' brand. In light of this commitment, the Commission has concluded that the proposed transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it."

This Press Release is available in full text.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

"Air hostesses told to shed weight"

"An Indian court has ruled against a group of female flight attendants who were grounded from the national airline for being overweight. The court said that state-owned Indian Airlines had the right to take the step in the interest of flight safety and in the face of growing competition.
The flight attendants had argued that the move was demeaning. The airline began a system of measuring air hostesses based on their height and weight last year.
The Delhi High Court has ruled in favour of the airline, saying that with aircraft flying at higher altitudes, the safety of the passengers depended on the crew's ability to perform.
'No airline can afford to remain lax in any department whatsoever, be it the personality of the crew members of their physical fitness,' Justice Rekha Sharma said. 'If by perseverance, the snail could reach the Ark, why can't these worthy ladies stand on and turn the scale.'"

Read more at the BBC News.

Friday, June 01, 2007

UK: Tourists unwilling to change holiday plans for environment

A new study indicates that majority of U.K. holidaymakers would be unwilling to change their travel plans to a more environmentally-friendly alternative. According to findings by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS), seven per cent of tourists claimed they would be "quite likely" to choose a green destination, with only two per cent reported to be "very likely" to do so.

Source: TravelWireNews, full article here.

Preliminary Ruling Procedure instituted on EU Regulation 261/2004

By decision of 7th March 2007 Court of Appeal in Frankfurt (Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt) has moved for Preliminary Ruling of the European Court of Justice in regard to Regulation (EC) 261/2004 (often but not quite correctly referred to as "Denied Boarding Regulation").
The request for Preliminary Ruling is amiming for clarification in regard to the scope of application of the Regulation as provided in Art. 3 Par. 1 lit. a, whereas the regulation shall apply "to passengers departing from an airport located in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies ". There was doubt (and various decisions by different German courts) whether the regulation also applies to the return flight from a non EU airport if passenger booked a round-trip ticket with the first segment starting from the EU.
The majority of German travel lawyers are sharing the view that the return flight is coverd by the regulation as a round trip has to be seen as a unitary contract for carriage.

Source: Newsletter of the German Travel Laywers' Association (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Reiserecht). German Text of the request for Preliminary Ruling can be read here.