Passenger Bill of Rights Shenanigans?...More Ads in the Air...Jim's Deals of Day
If you're anyone who flies regularly, or even occasionally, in Canada, this is really disturbing.
A CanWest report published today says the "federal transport minister's office worked in lock step with the airline industry to draft the government's passenger rights campaign," this despite the fact some bureaucrats (yes, sometimes they're on our side) didn't like how things were being done.
The report says the federal Conservatives "launched Flights Rights Canada last fall to inform air travellers of their rights - but only after airline executives reviewed several drafts, provided input and approved the final product."
They say it's not uncommon for government to work with stakeholders before unveiling new initiatives, which makes sense, but the report says consumer groups weren't consulted, and the Liberals and NDP say this is "the latest evidence of 'collusion' between the Conservative government and the airline industry to squelch real action to enhance consumer protection for air travellers."
Transport Minister (at the time) Lawrence Cannon, seemingly not the passenger's friend, is said to have "ignored warnings from the senior bureaucrat about a tiny communications budget of about $15,000 to fund the initiative."
Fifteen thousand dollars? That's what the Tories spend on Timbits in an average week of meetings.
CanWest, and good for them, says no billboard or posters were put up at airports to advertise the campaign.
Gee, you think they could've put it in the fine print, the way the airlines do with "by the way, the taxes on your $100 flight to Europe are $643.77, suckers."
Shame, shame, Mr. Harper. Travellers are regularly gouged and stomped upon in Canada, and they deserve your utmost attention. And respect.
OH, GOOD, MORE ADVERTISING
AirTran Airways is putting ads on the bottom of seat-back tray tables on all its 138 planes in the next few weeks; providing millions of dollars in revenue but more advertising intrusion for us poor, already ad-assaulted travellers.
Passengers, of course, have to keep the tray tables n their upright, locked position during takeoff and landing, so we won't have much choice of what to look at.
I suggest bringing eyeshades; or some duct tape and a piece of cardboard to block it off. It's ridiculous.
IRISH HOTEL EYES NOT SMILING
A report out of the UK says the Irish hotel industry is facing bankruptcy and that a quarter of its 60,000 rooms need to be taken out. And that's a lot.
The "Over Capacity in the Hotel Industry and Required Elements of a Recovery Programme Report" (guess all the good names were taken?) was commissioned by the Irish Hotels Federation and says bad investments in new projects created the current situation.
The report, written by economists Peter Bacon and Associates, says Irish hotel rooms went from 21,000 in 1989 to 60,000 today; an enormous leap. Of those 39,000 rooms in the last 20 years, 15,000 have opened since 2005.
Might be a good time to explore an Irish holiday.
CANADA-US TRAVEL TRENDS
A Canadian Press report says travel to Canada by American residents was up 2.1 per cent in September from August. But Canadian visits to the U.S. in September were down by the same percentage.
I find that weird, but who knows. Maybe the Toronto Film Festival had something to do with it? It certainly wasn't folks from Buffalo coming to see the surging Blue Jays, was it?
Overall, travel to Canada from overseas residents was down 1.3 per cent in September, compared to August. Which makes sense as many folks travel in summer when kids are out of school, and almost everyone in France and Italy goes on holidays in August. Yet the CP report said travel from Italy was up 6.2 per cent in September from the previous month, so clearly something unusual is at work; perhaps a seat sale?
Anyway, in checking out that reportI found this item on Time Magazine's website. And I find it amazing.
"Virtually every country in the world, large and small, has an official tourism department to woo visitors to its shores," the story said. "Tiny Tunisia has 24 tourism offices in 19 countries across the globe. South Africa has 10 offices on four continents. America has none, relying instead on the private sector to attract tourists."
"Airlines, tour operators, hotels — they've had the responsibility of promoting America," says Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at Forrester Research in San Francisco. "The government has stayed away from these kinds of initiatives and as a result, we've lost out on travelers."
I get emails from folks representing American tourism all the time, and there's the Discover America website, www.discoveramerica.com. But I guess it's not a government group.
The Canadian Tourism Commission, I understand, gets tens of millions of dollars from Ottawa.
Interesting.JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY