Friday, November 23, 2007

Accident. Antarctic cruise ship evacuated.

As the BBC news posted today "More than 150 passengers and crew have been rescued from a tourist ship, after it hit ice off Antarctica. The M/S Explorer began listing close to King George Island in the Antarctic Ocean, near the South Shetland Islands. Susan Hayes, of Gap Adventures, which owns the ship, said some 100 passengers and 54 crew members were evacuated to lifeboats and then to another ship. She said the vessel left Ushuaia on Argentina's southern tip on 11 November on a 19-day trip to the Drake Passage. The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said it was informed at 0524 GMT on Friday of the incident involving the 2,400-tonne vessel. (..) It ran into trouble approximately 120 km (75 miles) north of the Antarctic Peninsula. 'Fist-sized crack' Ms Hayes, vice-president of marketing for Toronto-based Gap Adventures, told the BBC News website: "The M/S Explorer hit a lump of ice off King George Island this morning and the impact left the vessel with a crack in the hull the size of a fist. (..) Another ship called Antarctic Dream, which was in the area, was diverted to help the rescue. The captain and the chief officer remained on board until everyone was evacuated. Ms Hayes said the ship was taking on water and that pumps were being used to stop the ship, which had an eight-degree list, from sinking. The spokeswoman did not have a passenger list to hand but said most of their customers on the cruise route were typically from Britain, Canada and America. The rescue operation was co-ordinated by the US Coastguard in Norfolk, Virginia, with the authorities in Ushuaia."

Source: details online at "BBC news ".

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"European Commission proposes to open aviation negotiations with Israel"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "Today, the European Commission proposed to open negotiations with Israel on a comprehensive aviation agreement. As part of the process of creating a Common Aviation Area with its Eastern and Southern neighbours by 2010, the Commission's aim is to establish an open aviation area between the EU and Israel, to lift market restrictions and to achieve a high level of regulatory convergence."

This Press Release is available in full text.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

EU: criticism on plans for extensive airline pricing

Airlines may be required to publish a detailed breakdown of their prices, in addition to a fully inclusive price, if a new law being considered by Europe’s legislators gets the green light, risking further confusion for passengers. The 60-strong airline members of the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) have been at the forefront of publishing fully inclusive fares to the public as part of the “Plain Fares” campaign launched by the Association in 2006. As part of the European Commission’s review of the Third Package legislation, lawmakers are now proposing for airlines, and airlines only, to publish a detailed breakdown of their prices, splitting out for example the costs of airport security and fuel surcharges.

Source: press release 14/11/2007 by European Regions Airline Association ; read full article here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"More choice and lower costs when booking airline tickets: the Commission advocates more competition in airline ticket distribution"

According to the EU Press Room, "The European Commission adopted today a proposal to simplify and modernise the two-decade-old rules for computerised reservation systems (CRS). These systems are used by travel agents to book airline tickets on behalf of their customers. The revised rules will allow CRSs and subscribing travel agents to expand their offer and better compete in the airline distribution market."

This Press Release is available in full text.

"Suit accuses car rental firms of price-fixing"

As reported by Patrick McGreevy and Jean-Paul Renaud, at the Los Angeles Times, "In December 2006, the average daily rate for a mid-size rental car booked via the Internet at Los Angeles International Airport was about $60. A month later, the rate had climbed to $79, according to a study by a consumer group.
A class-action lawsuit filed by the group Wednesday alleged that the spike was the result of illegal price-fixing by rental-car companies - enabled by a new state law that allows the companies to change the way they advertise rates at many airports.
The amended law, which was drafted at the urging of rental car companies, was rushed through the Legislature with three minutes of debate in a late-night session only hours before legislators adjourned last year." Read more>>

USA: Department of Transportation slammed for handling of airline complaints

Airline passenger complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation are rolling in by the thousands this year, but fliers waiting for government help may be disappointed.
This year, the DOT's enforcement office has closed just 25 consumer protection investigations with so-called consent orders, or settlement agreements, with the violators. As part of those orders, DOT has assessed $1.15 million in fines against airlines and other aviation-related firms for a variety of violations, including deceptive practices and failing to properly accommodate disabled passengers on planes.
Meanwhile, the DOT through September has logged 8,612 passenger complaints, up 70% for the same period last year. Those complaints — about delayed and canceled flights, lost luggage, bad customer service, refunds never made and other problems — doubled during the heavy travel months of July and August from a year earlier. Critics, including past DOT officials, say the department's consumer protection enforcement is simply not good enough.

Source:; read full article here.
DOT information on complaints about air travel to be found here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Austria: another Preliminary Ruling Procedure instituted in regard to Reg. 261/2004

Commercial Court Vienna has referred a case to European Court of Justice for preliminary ruling on the interpretation of Reg. 261/2004, specificly the differentiation between "cancellation" and "delay" as well as the term "extraordinary circumstances" in regard to technical defects of an aircraft.
ECJ admitted the motion (file no. C-432/07) and decided to connect same to the pending proceedings on preliminary ruling instituted by German BGH (C-402/07).

UNTWO: Historic Ministers’ Summit at World Travel Market 2007

World Travel Market is hosting a major UNWTO Ministers’ Summit on Tourism and Climate Change today, Tuesday 13 November. More than 100 Ministers will be asked to consider and ratify a Declaration recommended by environmental experts at the UNWTO’s Summit on Climate Change in Davos, Switzerland in October.
The Ministerial Declaration will be put to the UNWTO’s General Assembly at the end of November and will be a major aspect of the organization’s submission to the United Nations Bali Climate Summit in December 2007.
The Summit at ExCeL London, between 9.00 -14.00hrs, will be broadcast to World Travel Market delegates in the Central Boulevard as well as to a dedicated media room in the International Press Centre.

Source: UNTWO press release; read full text here.

UNTWO: Latest World Tourism Barometer

International tourist arrivals continue sustained growth rate reaching 5.6% 610 million international tourist arrivals from January to August 32 million more arrivals already counted for 2007.
International tourist arrivals for the first eight months of 2007 point to a continuation of the sustained growth rate experienced over the past years. According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, this trend is likely to continue through the remainder of 2007, with year-end growth estimated at 5.7%, which would put international arrivals to 880-900 million.

Source: UNTWO press release; click here for a summary of the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Spain: 15th Century Spanish Maps Stolen from Madrid now recovered by FBI

The FBI announced the return of two 15th century maps that were stolen from the Spanish National Library in Madrid, Spain, earlier this year. The FBI assisted in the recovery of the maps at the request of the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard. The two maps, from an edition of Ptolemy's Geographia, were recovered by a special agent assigned to the New York FBI's major theft squad and the FBI's Art Crime Team. Director Robert S. Mueller, III, presented the maps today to Joan Mesquida Ferrando, Director General of the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard in a ceremony at FBI Headquarters.

Read full article here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

EU: outcome of the public consultation on the review of consumer protection rules published

Following the Green Paper on the Review of the Consumer Acquis (COM(2006) 744 Final, the Commission has received more than 300 responses from consumer and business associations, Member States, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and groups of stakeholders. After analysing all the responses, the Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General has issued a staff working document which summaries the outcome of the consultation.
The staff working document will be complemented by a detailed analysis of the responses to the Green Paper prepared by GHK Consulting for the Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General.
All responses submitted following the Green Paper are available here

Monday, November 05, 2007

EU: Escorted Tours Seminar to take place in London

On Thursday 8th November, the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) will hold a seminar to discuss the application of EU law to escorted tours.
Of concern is inter alia the lack of clarity as to which qualifications are needed by tourist guides to carry out their duties in EU member states. In Italy, where tour escorts have traditionally faced difficulties with the authorities regarding their ability to ‘guide’, the Bersani reform was passed in April this year, aiming to liberalise various aspects of the economy, including tourist guiding. The good news for tour operators is that Italy is striving to develop into a better environment for foreign tourist guides. In practice though, application of the reform will depend on each Italian region's interpretation of it. Dino Costanza, ETOA’s Rome-based lawyer, will explain how the trade association’s dialogue with Italy’s Department of Tourism will offer useful insight on the progress of the reform, and its impact on those tour operators whose groups travel to Italy.
The Escorted Tours Seminar will take place on Thursday 8th November at the Crowne Plaza London – the City, 19 New Bridge St, London EC4V 6DB, United Kingdom. For further information and to gain accreditation as a journalist, please contact Adam Buckmaster, ETOA, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7499 4412, Email: or David Tarsh, Tarsh Consulting, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7602 5262, Email:

More information here.

Turkey: Ecotourism Awards at 68th SKAL World Congress

The 6th Annual Skål International Ecotourism Awards were presented by the President of Skål International, Litsa Papathanassi and Vice President, Media and Public Relations, Hulya Aslantas in the presence of the Minister of Tourism of Turkey, Mr. Ertugrul Gunay during the Opening Ceremony of the 68th Skål World Congress held in Antalya, Turkey on 5th November 2007 at the Maritime Pine Beach Resort. Skål, founded as an international association in 1934 is the largest organisation of travel and tourism professionals in the world, embracing all sectors of the travel and tourism industry, in five Continents, 87 Countries and at over 500 locations, with 22,000 members from hoteliers to travel agents, Airlines, tourism media, tourism academies etc.

The winners are announced as follows:

In the category of Tour Operators and Travel Agents:

In the category of Rural Accommodation:

In the category of Urban Accommodation:

In the category of General Countryside:

In the category of Cities and Villages:

In the category of Educational Programmes and Media:

Detailed information about the winners can be found on the Skål International website or by clicking the following direct link:

USA: detained Iraqi Americans sue airline

Six Iraqi Americans returning to Detroit after training U.S. military personnel contend they were racially profiled when they were pulled off an American Airlines flight in August and accused of being a security risk.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday against the airline, the men say airline employees halted a flight about to leave San Diego for Chicago and detained them after the flight crew thought they were security threats because they spoke Arabic and because of their appearance.
The Iraqi natives were interrogated in front of other passengers and then detained for more than an hour with the help of the San Diego police, according to the suit. Afterward, they were released and flew later that week.

Source: by Detroit Free Press; read full article here.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

"And now it's time for halal tourism"

As reported by Clark Kelly, at the Travel & Tourism News Middle East, "Regional tourism players will be advised at this month’s World Travel Market (WTM) to exploit a new category of tourism dubbed Halal Tourism.
According to an excerpt from the WTM Global Trends Report being unveiled at the WTM and made available in advance to TTN, there is currently little differentiation between Middle Eastern tourism products and services for Muslims and non-Muslims. This represents a huge opportunity for Halal tourism, a form of religious tourism defined as activities permissible under Islamic law." Read more>>

Friday, November 02, 2007

6th Annual Hospitality Law Conference

Organized by, the 6th Annual Hospitality Law Conference, will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.

Full information is available here.