Asia takes over from North America...Vancouver hotels booked? Try Seattle...
I remember when Beijing won the right to stage the 2008 Summer Olympics, defeating Toronto (like, who hasn't done that, right?) and a few other cities. I came back from the International Olympic Committee meeting where the decision was made and told my accountant/financial adviser friend (he keeps track of all my pop and wine bottles) to keep an eye on China.
I knew they would go all out for the Olympics, as witnessed by the Birds Nest stadium shown in this nighttime photo I snapped the night of the closing ceremony, and sure enough the country has climbed rapidly up the world's financial ladder. Now comes word that demand for intra-Asia flights last year outstripped demand for flights within North America, and if that's not a sign of Asian kick-sand-in-your-face dominance I don't now what is.
The International Air Transport Association said there 647 million air travellersin the Intra-Asia market last year, according to today's Globe and Mail. That surpasses the 638 million in suddenly silver-medal North America.
"It is only the very beginning of the potential for this region," said/warned IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani.
2010 OLYMPIC HOUSING
I wrote last week about how Norwegian Cruise LInes was offering special rates of $275 U.S. per room per night for a cruise ship that was supposed to be docked in North Vancouver for the Olympics, which start a week from Friday if you can believe it. Now there's word that sales aren't what they had expected and costs are (surprise!) higher than expected, so the whole thing is up in the air.
It's a bit more of a commute than getting downtown from North Van, but the folks in charge of Marriott hotels in Seattle are trying to lure Games goers south of the border with a $104 per night "road to gold Olympic package" at a dozen of their Seattle properties. The deal is valid through Feb. 29 and includes accomodation (well, that makes sense), breakfast and a $25 gas voucher, which you'll need unless you plan to take the bus to Vancouver. Given road restrictions and all, the bus might make more sense.
There also are said to be rooms available in the far-flung suburbs of Vancouver, so don't despair if you don't have a place to sleep.I'll have a pullout sofa in my room downtown, or so I'm told. Wonder what I could get for it?
JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY
$358 - Toronto to Santa Lucia, Cuba, 1 week all-inclusive vacation (early-bird sale)
STARWOOD DEALS TORONTO
Olympics not in your budget? Guests who book before Feb. 10 can get up to to 50 per cent off a stay at Starwood Hotels in Toronto. Rooms are as low as $89 per night and rooms are available at such spots at the Westin Harbour Castle, the Sheraton Centre Toronto (nice, new lobby by the way), The Sheraton Toronto Airport and Conference Centre and Le Meridien King Edward. Call 1-866-716-8101 and ask for rate code TOLTO.
MORE NAKED SCANNER NEWS
I mentioned a week or so ago that I found some of those "naked scanners" at Pearson here in Toronto. I read today that they're coming on stream now in the U.K.