Travel and Tourism

March 12, 2009

San Francisco Chamber on anti-”anti-junket” junket

Fifty members of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce have taken a business trip to Washington D.C. to protest the “anti-junket” attitudes that have gripped Congress and the public after several incidents of abuses by bailed out financial firms. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Big business is cutting back on convention travel these days, afraid of being branded as lavish spenders in a down economy. And that’s having a real impact on cities like San Francisco, where conventions and business meetings have a huge impact on our economy. That’s the message a delegation of the city’s civic leaders will deliver to Congress today, specifically asking the Northern California congressional delegation to help tone down the criticism of such business meetings. The San Francisco officials are concerned that businesses that otherwise would send employees to meetings and spend appropriate sums on food and entertainment will increasingly cancel meetings out of fear they will be singled out on Capitol Hill and by the public as overindulgent. “They don’t want to be on the front page of the newspaper or on the 11 o’clock news, seen as frivolously spending money even though it is for legitimate purposes,” said Joe McInerney, the president and chief executive officer of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, based in Washington. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce-led delegation, consisting of some 50 participants, is in Washington to ask members to keep in mind the economic contribution of travel and tourism while they negotiate proposed restrictions on recipients of federal emergency funds. They do not want legitimate business travel chilled because of extravagant spending by others… “We do not want to support irresponsible extravagance, but we also do not want to discourage business from holding conventions and meetings so they can spend appropriately on entertainment in San Francisco,” said Steve Falk, the chamber president. Among those suffering the consequences of a falloff in business are service employees, he said. “While we understand the need for transparency, we want to make sure that legislation (covering emergency fund recipients) does not have the unintended consequences of impacting negatively on the hospitality workforce,” said Mariann Costello, vice president of Scoma’s restaurant in San Francisco, who is among the chamber delegation.

Filed under Business Associations, Travel and Tourism, U.S. Government, U.S. Politics by

September 1, 2008

California opens travel office in Korea

The California Travel and Tourism Commission will open an office in Seoul on to generate marketing and promotional campaigns to bring South Korea travelers to California. The commission hired AVIAREPS Marketing Garden to represent the California tourism industry in South Korea. South Korea is California’s fourth-largest overseas market, with 331,000 visitors, according to Caroline Beteta, CTTC chief executive officer.  “We expect that number to increase dramatically with the easing of visa restrictions and expected expansion in airlift.” South Korean travel in California generated $405 million in 2007, with an average leisure travel expenditure of $1,368 per visit. California now has overseas travel offices in the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Germany and Mexico.

Filed under South Korea, Travel and Tourism by

April 8, 2008

Another California Gold Rush?

As everyone knows, California ‘s modern history began with the gold rush of 1849. Now, because of the soaring price of gold, it may be happening again. As reported in the New York Times:

Driven by record high prices and a suburban thirst for new outdoor activities, tens of thousands of ’08ers are taking to historically rich streams and hills all across the West in search of nuggets, flecks and — more often than not — specks of gold. “Anywhere gold has been found in the past,” said Corey Rudolph, the field operations director for the Gold Prospectors Association of America. “That’s where they’re going again.”

Perhaps nowhere is the rush more spirited than in California, home of the Sierra’s famed Mother Lode, where the discovery of gold in 1848 caused a national migration. Like their forebears, many of today’s prospectors have little more than a pan, a shovel and a dream.

Unlike the original forty-niners, though, some of today’s caravans involve minivans, wetsuits and cellphones. And while many current prospectors say they hold out hopes of big scores, their clubs also act as social networks, where members exchange stories of the joys of sluicing and the unexplainable, often unattainable, thrill of shouting “Eureka!” at the sight of a nugget.

Filed under California culture, Travel and Tourism by

December 28, 2007 raises $196 million to buy SideStep, the travel search engine has completed a $196 million funding round that it will use to buy SideStep Inc. said it intends to maintain both the and brands and will develop and promote each site independently. As reported in the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Michael Moritz of Menlo Park-based Sequoia Capital will join’s board. Other participants include existing investors General Catalyst Partners of Cambridge, Mass., and Accel Partners of Palo Alto. SideStep investors involved included Norwest Venture Partners and Trident Capital, both of Palo Alto. New investors include Oak Investment Partners, which has an office in Palo Alto, Lehman Brothers Venture Partners, and debt lenders Silicon Valley Bank and Gold Hill Capital.

Filed under Mergers and Acquisitions, Travel and Tourism, Venture Capital by

September 27, 2007

Congressman Farr seeks to attract international visitors

According to Voice of America News:

Two U.S. Congressmen have introduced legislation aimed at improving America’s image abroad by promoting international tourism to the United States. The bill would establish a competitive $50 million grant to boost international business and leisure travel to America from five target countries. As VOA’s Cindy Saine reports from Washington, the program will also seek to give foreign tourists a friendlier welcome at U.S. airports and other entry points.

At a news conference on Capitol Hill, Congressman Sam Farr, a Democrat representing California’s scenic central coast, summed up how fewer foreign tourists are coming to America. “International travelers aren’t coming to America and figures show it,” said Sam Farr. “The U.S. has experienced a 17- percent decline in overseas visitors since September 11, 2001.”

Congressman Farr says he believes Americans are among the friendliest, most helpful and most accepting people in the world. But he thinks the current “fortress America” image comes from a combination of factors. “Kids have access to Ipods and media, they’ve just seen America as a very violent country, they’re afraid to come here,” he said. “Frequent travelers find that when they come now they get hassled and it’s uncomfortable for them, they are distinguished people.”

The co-sponsor of the tourism bill, Representative Jon Porter, says the U.S. should be secure and welcoming at the same time. “The problem is that right now there is this perception that we’re not as friendly as we really are,” said Jon Porter. “And because of our emphasis on security, homeland security, I think that the pendulum has swung too far, and that is how we are treating our visitors.”

Filed under Travel and Tourism by

June 19, 2007

Singapore May Take Minority Stake in La Jolla Hyatt

If a joint venture agreement becomes final in the third quarter, as expected, a real estate investment company connected to Singapore’s government will become a minority owner of the posh, 419-room Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine, according to the San Diego Business Journal.  Strategic Hotels & Resorts of Chicago announced recently that it has entered into an agreement with GIC Real Estate Pte. Ltd., the real estate investment company of the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. Pte. Ltd., to acquire a 49 percent interest in two of Strategic’s hotels, the Hyatt Regency La Jolla and 792-room InterContinental Chicago. The transaction is valued at $450 million.

Filed under Mergers and Acquisitions, Singapore, Travel and Tourism by

June 1, 2007

Tahoe tourism officials to discuss marketing strategy

Lake Tahoe-area tourism executives will gather in South Lake Tahoe on Wednesday to share strategic information at the 2007 SMG Tourism Conference.  This eighth annual event, which is themed “Sustainability & Authenticity: Marketing Your Destination’s Unique Character,” will address issues critical to tourism, including geotourism, social media and brand building, California tourism trends, and how Indian gaming and economic development trends are impacting destination character, officials said.  Speakers at the event include Jonathan Tourtellot, director of sustainable destinations at the National Geographic Society; Dave LaPlante, CEO of Twelve Horses; and William Eadington, gaming expert at the University of Nevada, Reno. 

Filed under Business Events and Trade Shows, Travel and Tourism by

February 26, 2007

State tourism campaign to debut during Oscars

“The California Travel and Tourism Commission will unveil its new $10 million promotional campaign with a big Hollywood premiere. Viewers in four Western markets who tune in to the Oscars telecast Sunday will see the pitch. The 30-second spot will air in pre-show, during and post-show coverage of the Academy Awards on the ABC affiliates in Denver, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Portland, Ore. The ad, dubbed “Fast Lane,” will feature appearances by Clint Eastwood, Wolfgang Puck, Teri Hatcher, Tony Hawk, Jeff Gordon and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver, among others.”

Filed under Entertainment Industry, Travel and Tourism by

California top destination for culinary travel

“California is the top destination for travelers whose vacation plans include food festivals, wine tours and other culinary pursuits, according to a new study from the Travel Industry Association. California was cited as a destination for food-related travel by 14 percent of those surveyed, followed by Florida (10 percent), New York (7 percent)…California was also the No. 1 choice for wine-related travel, cited by 31 percent of those surveyed.”

Filed under Agriculture and Food, Travel and Tourism by

Tour of California bike race seen by over one million people

“The organizers of the Tour of California say that more than a million people turned out through Friday to watch the race. The number, while virtually impossible to verify, speaks to the popularity of an event that, in only in its second year, has become the biggest in American cycling”

Filed under Sports and Recreation, Travel and Tourism by

L.A. council members seek to boost foreign tourism

“Responding to a drop in international travelers at LAX, two City Council members Friday proposed a new federal committee to boost foreign tourism in Los Angeles and at other U.S. gateway cities…Council members Hahn and Tom LaBonge were joined by the Travel Industry Assn. of America and L.A. Inc., the city’s convention and visitors bureau, in calling for a federal committee to address a 17% decline in the number of international tourists to the United States over the last five years. The proposed committee, potentially made up of representatives from major destinations, would help the U.S. compete for international travel, including by overseeing an advertising campaign. ‘We’re asking the U.S. to partner with Los Angeles and other cities that are competing for international travelers,” said Michael Collins, executive vice president of L.A. Inc. ‘We do not send a message of welcome. We do not ask visitors to come to America’ .”

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February 24, 2007

Disney buying two ocean liners from Germany-based Meyer Werft shipyard

Walt Disney Co. plans to add two new ocean liners to its cruise business, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal. “The ships are scheduled to launch in 2011 and 2012 and will more than double the passenger capacity for Disney Cruise Line. Burbank’s Disney said it signed a letter of intent with Paperburg, Germany-based Meyer Werft shipyard to negotiate a contract to build the 122,000-ton new cruise liners. Each ship will have 1,250 staterooms.”

Filed under Germany, Travel and Tourism by

February 15, 2007

Tour of California could be Tour de France caliber

“The Amgen Tour of California could become the first major cycling stage race to be held outside of Europe. Pat McQuaid, the International Cycling Union president, said Wednesday the California event is a contender to eventually become part of the ProTour, which includes events such as the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. The ProTour is the highest level of cycling and would ensure the Tour of California attracts the world’s best teams and racers every year.”

Filed under Sports and Recreation, Travel and Tourism by

February 14, 2007

Sacramento average room rates top $100

“Hotels in Sacramento collected average daily room rates in excess of $100 through 2006, the first time the rates have been more than that threshold in the Sacramento hotel mix, according to figures compiled by PKF Consulting in San Francisco… Through all of 2006, the highest average room rate market in Northern California was Monterey/Carmel, with rates of $237.89.”

Filed under Travel and Tourism by

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