Destination News - North America.

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Sep 27, 2009

Travelers will soon have the chance to donate USD 2 or more to help fight AIDS in developing countries when they buy an airline ticket. The money will go to the Millennium Foundation, which is working with the United Nations to fund health goals, including fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. They're calling the donation effort MassiveGood. This is the first big fundraising effort by the Geneva-based Millenium Foundation, founded in 2008 to find innovative ways to finance UN health goals. It's working with UN-funded UNITAID, which supplies low-cost drugs to the developing world. The three major ticket distributors N Amadeus, Travelport and Sabre Holdings Corp. N announced on Wednesday that they've agreed to make the donation an option for ticket-sellers and buyers starting early next year. It's optional for everyone involved, including online travel sites, travel agents and corporate buyers such as American Express Business Travel. Business travel manager Carlson Wagonlit Travel confirmed on Wednesday that it intends to offer the donation through its systems, though it's still working out details. However, it remains to be seen how often travelers will encounter the pitch to make a donation. Tickets sold directly through airline Web sites aren't part of the program. And it's not clear whether companies will allow the donations on corporate travel purchases. Sep 23, 2009

Here are 10 places to find the deals during 2010. 1. Bargains are (almost) everywhere If you come across a hotel or cruise line that insists it OneverO discounts, donOt believe it. In 2010, everyone will discount. ItOs just a question of how much. Amanda Sundt, the chief marketing officer at the adventure travel site iExplore, says upscale resorts will continue to offer spa and dining credit credits and two-for-ones. Worse, hotel capacity is expected to grow as major chains like Hyatt and Four Seasons open new properties. OLook for good introductory deals as the hoteliers want to start seeing an immediate return and build buzz about the new properties,O she says. 2. Yes, even airlines The travel industryOs soothsayers want you to believe that airfares are on the verge of taking off again. They may be right. But they probably arenOt. Chris Lopinto, the president and co-founder of Expertflyer.com, says lackluster demand from leisure travelers will continue to keep fares low. In fact, he predicts fares will stay depressed until business travelers jump back into the game. OI think once business and business travel picks up again, weOll see air prices go significantly higher,O he says. When? Maybe by the fall of 2010. Then again, maybe not. 3. Forget blackout dates Resorts offer so-called OvalueO season during off-peak times to lure guests. Guess what? Those value prices could last all of 2010, according to hoteliers like Steve Heydt, president of Elite Island Resorts, one of the largest independent Caribbean hotel groups. OResort business is not showing any measurable increase,O he told me. OWeOve responded to this trend by ensuring that we allow our current value pricing to roll over and be available next spring, summer and fall. This is the only way we believe we can stimulate advance vacation bookings.O 4. Catch the wave OWaveO period, which happens early in the year, is the time when most cruises are booked. In 2010, theyOll be giving them away, from the sounds of it. OCruise lines are putting the brakes on new ship builds, and those under construction are still being built, but most of those on the drawing board are on hold,O says Danny Borg, a partner for the discount travel site Undercover Tourist. OThe cruise lines will continue to lower prices until their ships sail at capacity.O He and other experts recommend booking early in 2010, which is when all the sales are likely to happen. 5. Get social HereOs a tip from an airline insider: If youOre looking for deals in 2010, it pays to participate in social media, like Twitter or Facebook. OSocial media has quickly become a new sales and loyalty channel for airlines,O says Lufthansa spokeswoman Jennifer Urbaniak. Her airline sees social media as a way to offer special Internet-only discounts on tickets next year N and she expects other airlines to do the same. 6. Go where the crowds donOt OThe problem we are battling now is perception,O says Robert Tuchman, an executive vice president at New York-based event planner Premiere Corporate. OCompanies donOt want to seem like they are being extravagant, so they are making employees fly coach and not business or first.O ThatOs translating into bargains just where you wouldnOt expect them: in business- and first-class fares and at upscale resorts. 7. Log on for deeper discounts How much deeper? A lot. I asked Clem Bason, president of Hotwire, and heOs looking for Osharply discounted dealsO N both on the kind of opaque deals his site offers (those are ones where the name of the resort isnOt revealed until you book) and vacation packages. Archrival Priceline.com also offers opaque deals, but most of the major online agencies, including Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity, have aggressively discounted packages that promise to be even more aggressively discounted in coming months. 8. Look for an all-inclusive rate Many travel companies plan to make up for lost revenue by OunbundlingO their rates N meaning theyOll separate the base fares and rates from OextrasO like the ability to make a confirmed seat reservation or get a newspaper delivered to your room in the morning. OThe trend towards a la carte pricing will definitely continue in 2010,O says Todd Dirks, a vice president at WNS, a business process outsourcing company. OAirlines have found this to be a material and sustainable source of revenue.O Just one problem: The reservations systems canOt handle these fees, so customers donOt find out about them until itOs too late. Lesson? Look for a rate that includes everything (Southwest Airlines is one of the few carriers that doesnOt nickel and dime customers). 9. Zig when everyone else zags A bargain-hunterOs natural instinct is to look for a deal where the deals are known to be. In 2010, theyOll be there N and elsewhere, predicts Elie Seidman, the chief executive of Oyster Hotel Reviews. Take New York City, for example. ORooms at the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas would cost USD 500 a night if it were in Midtown Manhattan, but these days, theyOre often going for less than USD 100 a night,O she says. OPrices in Las Vegas will go even lower when City Centre opens at the end of the year. And if the Fontainebleau in Vegas is able to get out of its current problems, Las Vegas will get even cheaper for tourists.O People donOt normally associate these destinations with bargain rooms. But thatOs the thing about 2010 N whether you follow the crowd or not, you canOt lose. 10. You donOt even need to spend real money for these deals Some of the most attractive offers in 2010 may be related to your award miles, according to Points.comO president, Chris Barnard. ThatOs because travel companies are trying to unload as many miles as possible. OIn order to increase their value to travelers, program operators are adding new and different redemption options N everything from restaurant and retail gift cards to program-sanctioned mileage trades,O he says. Sep 21, 2009

World's most over-rated ancient and historical sites 1. Stonehenge, UK : Famous for its astonishingly huge stones. The summer solstice ceremony held by druids and New Agers confirm it as a cathedral to mystical paganism. Reality: Tourists canOt touch the stones, canOt walk inside the area, canOt wander about its space and have to pay an entrance fee to see it. 2. Petra in Jordan : It rises out of rose-red sandstone in a hidden valley. Firmly featuring on the itinerary of every traveller to the Middle East since the days of the Grand Tour, Petra is one of the most visited sites in the Middle East. Reality: The tourism village that has grown up around Petra now threatens to outsize the ancient city itself. 3. Colosseum in Rome, Italy : A breathtaking sight for tourists. Reality: The sight is often crowded and usually has long queues. The entire building is a traffic roundabout and the interior is too precious to host concerts. Then, there is the danger of tourists falling victim to pickpockets. 4. Machu Picchu in Peru : It is South AmericaOs most-promoted destination. It has held the top spot for travellers eager to see the majesty of the Inca for several years. Reality: The journey to Machu Picchu is not pleasant, and the entrance fee has risen to more than 25 pounds. 5. Angkor in Cambodia : It boasts of some of the most jaw-dropping Buddhist monuments in Southeast Asia. The dozens of spectacular temples here are crowned by the peerless Angkor Wat - the siteOs largest monument - in a memorably atmospheric setting among gnarled jungles and glass-like paddy fields. Sep 21, 2009

Alitalia

TourCrafters is offering a five-day/four-night Alitalia Supersaver Package that costs USD 799 and covers the round-trip flight from New York on Alitalia, fuel surcharge, accommodation in four-star hotels, four breakfasts, an upgrade to a superior room, a complimentary bottle of wine and hotel service charges and taxes. The package is available to Rome, Florence and Venice from early November to the end of March, but must be booked by Oct. 30. The Rome package includes overnights at either the four-star River Hotel, conveniently located near the Piazza del Popolo or the four-star Oxford Hotel, just off the Via Veneto. There are several choices of four-star hotels in Florence: the new San Gallo Palace; the Kraft and Adriatico, near the Arno River; and the Roma and Rivoli, which are close to the train station and Santa Maria Novella Church. In Venice, there's one choice, the family-run Hotel Carlton & Grand Canal which is, on the Grand Canal. All prices are per person, double occupancy, are subject to...

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