Sunwing deal okayed...Dominican Republic pitching in...Vegas rising..
Just got this from openjaw.com; thanks guys.
"Further to their September announcement that Sunwing Travel Group and First Choice Canada had reached an agreement to amalgamate their Canadian tour operator businesses, the parties have announced that all necessary regulatory approvals to close the transation have been received.
Johan Lundgren, Managing Director, Northern Region, TUI Travel PLC stated, "We are very pleased that we have received all approvals and have now completed the deal with Sunwing. We continue to believe that First Choice Canada will have greater future opportunities as part of a combined Sunwing business."
Stephen Hunter, who will be the Chief Executive Officer of the combined venture headquartered in Toronto, said: "This is an exciting time for everybody at Sunwing Travel Group and we look forward to continued growth and profitability and to providing Canadian travellers with great holidays."
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC LENDS A HAND
The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism has issued a statement saying it is "deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life and extensive earthquake damage to the people of Haiti," its neighboring country.
"The Dominican government is providing a relief effort staging area at some of the international airports located on the Island," the ministry said.
Officials said the DR did not experience any damage from the earthquake and that all transportation systems, communication systems, tourism businesses and medical facilities are operating smoothly, making the country available to offer support to the relief effort in any way needed.
“The DR is making available its medical facilities for earthquake victims and is providing international relief organizations access to Haiti through the airport and seaports. Our transportation systems, communications systems, hotels, resorts, beaches and natural environment suffered no damage here. We are grateful and with deep concern open our hearts to our neighbors and will continue to do everything we can to help them and reassure global travelers that the DR is receiving visitors.”
The DR shares the eastern third of the Island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Punta Cana, the major global tourism destination in the DR is located approximately 400 miles (633 kilometers) east of Haiti’s capital, or a 10-12 hour drive, with numerous mountain ranges separating the two countries.
Officials said all eight of the DR's international airports are open and operating as normal, as are its cruise terminals and all its hotels, resorts, beaches and tourism businesses. No flights or group tours to the DR have been cancelled.
I spotted a headline this morning that said Royal Caribbean has suspended the docking of its ships at Labadee, a private island it owns off the coast of Haiti. But I haven't been able to confirm that just yet. I was on a cruise with RCI a few years ago and they suspended the Labadee stop due to weather; we ended up docking in the Bahamas instead.
Speaking of cruises, I spotted a USA Today story about a retired businessman who has taken 37 Carnival cruises in 15 MONTHS! That's stunning, ain't it?
VEGAS REBOUND CONTINUES
Nevada officials say gaming revenue in November climbed 4 per cent ro reach $873.2 million. On the Vegas strip, revenue climed 8.3 per cent to $473.8 million.
(Doing some mental arithmetic, that shows that only about one-half Nevada's gaming revenues come from Vegas. Most of the rest would be Tahoe and Reno. Still, I would've thought Vegas would have a larger share.) Anyway, it's certainly good news for Vegas and Nevada.
Not so great news, however, for Atlantic City. TheStreet reports Atlantic City saw its gaming revenue fall 9.9 per cent in December, while Illinois was down 5.1 per cent and Missouri down 1.6 per cent.
Are there any states left that DON'T have casinos? I think so. Hawaii doesn't, I'm pretty sure. Which is perhaps one reason Hawaiians LOVE Las Vegas. It's probably the vacation of choice for most Hawaiians, who probably lap up the desert atmosphere. Not to mention the food and the shows and the gambling.
FAIRMONT AND HYATT EXPANDING
The folks at Toronto-based Fairmont say they'll open seven new hotels around the world this year as the travel scene gradually improves.
Topping the charts for Fairmont is the reopening of the Savoy in London. They spent two years and more than $150 million redoing the old gal from top to bottom. The Savoy Grill will return under the operations of Gordon Ramsay Holdings. It's supposed to reopen by summer.
Also newly restored is the Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai; scheduled to open sometime between April and June; just in time for the May start of Expo 2010.
Closer to home, the Fairmont Pacific Rim will open in the next couple weeks; just in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics, which you may have heard something about. It's a 377-room luxury hotel with 175 residential condos on the edge of the water; close to the Vancouver Conference Centre and with views of Stanley Park and the North Shore Mountains.
Others opening this year are the Fairmont Beijing, Fairmont Pittsburgh (a city that's done a lot of renovation itself), the Fairmont Zimbali Resort in South Africa and the Makkah Clock Royal Tower in Saudi Arabia.
Over at Chicago-based Hyatt, they're crowing about the opening Monday of their new Andaz hotel in lower Manhattan . It's only the second hotel in New York for Hyatt, which is surprising. Also a bit of an eye-opener is that, according to the Wall Street Journal, Hyatt has only two hotels in London and three in Paris.
"We do believe there will be opportunities to acquire properties or maybe even a brand at some point," Hyatt Chief Executive Mark Hoplamazian said.
There are plans for a second New York Andaz in midtown Manhattan in the coming months.
Hotelnewsnow has a good story on future Hyatt endeavours. They also have an interesting piece about how Caribbean hotels are making upgrades due to an expected travel upturn.
JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY