Travel Business News - North America.

New York (AirGuideBusiness - Travel Business News North America) Jan 1, 2012

A4A, ASTA, and U.S. Travel Association Column: Travel industry will face complex challenges in 2012. Challenging issues such as new domestic and international taxes, Transportation Department security rulings and travel-distribution changes promise to affect businesses in the travel industry in 2012, George Dooley writes. However, travel-industry groups such as ASTA, A4A and the U.S. Travel Association continue to serve as the voice of their segments and protect their legislative interests. Dec 22, 2011

Accor, Mirvac Group, Ascendas Real Estate Group Accor expands in Australia, New Zealand with Mirvac Hotels acquisition. Accor has announced its purchase of hotel assets from Mirvac Group for USD254 million in line with the company's expansion goals in Australia and New Zealand. Accor paid about USD193 million to acquire Mirvac Hotels & Resorts, which will add 48 hotels to its portfolio. The company is also working on acquiring a 49.2% stake in the Mirvac Wholesale Hotel Fund together with Singapore's Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust, in a deal it expects to close by the first half of 2012. Dec 19, 2011

AH&LA Coalition advances U.S. visa and entry reforms . AH&LA recently organized a coalition of travel and business-related organizations to launch the Discover America Partnership. The Coalition will advance visa and entry reforms in order to regain the share of the international traveler market the United States held in 2000. Visit here for more information. Dec 21, 2011

AH&LA, A4A and U.S. Travel Association Column: Travel industry will face complex challenges in 2012. Challenging issues such as new domestic and international taxes, Transportation Department security rulings and travel-distribution changes promise to affect businesses in the travel industry in 2012, George Dooley writes. However, travel-industry groups such as AH&LA, A4A and the U.S. Travel Association continue to serve as the voice of their segments and protect their legislative interests. Dec 23, 2011

AirPlus International Doing Well At Doing Good: CSR Initiatives For Corporate Travel On The Rise In AirPlus Survey. AirPlus International, a global leader in corporate travel payment and analysis solutions, releases DecemberOs The WireEfrom AirPlus titled: CSR Initiatives Through the Travel Supply Chain. Financial charitable donations and green initiatives ranked top of the list of CSR initiatives valued by buyers and for their preferred suppliers. The survey results highlight however, that while CSR initiatives are gaining in importance in a buyerOs opinion, few RFPs and decisions are currently taken to pick preferred suppliers by such initiatives. For more details, including a complimentary PDF of the full survey results, please visit the AirPlus Community. OIOm pleased to see that CSR initiatives are gaining in importance within the travel community,O said Richard Crum, President and CEO of AirPlus International, Inc. OAt AirPlus, we offer our customers easy and efficient tools to go green; the AirPlus Carbon Offset feature easily offsets a companyOs total carbon emission from business travel (when paid through AirPlus) with any sustainability provider worldwide, and our Green Reports provide customers with a comprehensive measurement and analysis tool for their carbon emissions.O The WireEfrom AirPlus is a monthly pulse report for the business travel industry on timely and relevant topics. Results of this edition are based on a survey of 175 corporate travel buyers in North America and Europe from November 10-28, 2011. AirPlus International is a leading business travel payment solution with a payment suite including lodge/central bill accounts, corporate cards, purchasing cards and online management and analysis tools used by over 35,000 customers worldwide. AirPlus is travel agency neutral, the leading issuer of UATP worldwide and the preferred partner of various airlines such as Air China, British Airways, Continental Airlines, Luxair, Lufthansa German Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Portugal and Singapore Airlines. For more information, please visit AirPlus.com, contribute to our AirPlus Community, follow us via Twitter and LinkedIn, circle us on Google+ and like us on Facebook. Dec 19, 2011

Alfa Group Billionaire Fridman to Buy Distressed U.S. Property, WSJ Says. Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman plans to invest in distressed property on the U.S. East Coast through a USD1 billion real-estate fund heOs starting, the Wall Street Journal said, citing an interview with the businessman. Fridman, whose Alfa Group has stakes in Russian oil producer TNK-BP and mobile operator VimpelCom Ltd. (VIP), will work with New York-based Rosen Partners, the newspaper said. Their venture will look at hotels, residential and office buildings priced at about USD100 million or higher, as well as non- performing loans, and targets returns of more than 20 percent, the Wall Street Journal said. Dec 21, 2011

Amtrak Amtrak carried nearly 30.2 million passengers in Fiscal Year 2011 ending Sept. 30, marking the highest ridership total since the National Railroad Passenger Corporation started operations in 1971, and the eighth ridership record during the last nine years. Ridership versus the prior year is up by more than 5 percent, and ticket revenue is up by more than 8 percent, despite significant weather related disruptions in the Northeast, Central and Western U.S. Last week in St. Louis, Amtrak recognized a suburban St. Louis woman as the representative 30 millionth passenger. Rochelle Lathan rode the Texas Eagle from Alton, Ill., to Springfield on Sept. 28, the day the 30 million passenger mark was reached. OThirty million passengers is not just a statistic. That number is made up of real people who live real lives and use Amtrak for personal, business and recreational travel,O said Emmett Fremaux, the head of the Amtrak Marketing and Product Development Department, who presented Lathan with an oversized Amtrak ticket and two 30-day rail passes. Factors contributing to the continuing success of Amtrak include high gasoline prices, continued growth in business travel on the high-speed Acela Express trains with free Wi-Fi service -- with more AmtrakConnect deployments coming soon on other services across the country -- the increased appeal and popularity of rail travel and effective marketing campaigns. For more information, call 800-USA-RAIL or visit www.amtrak.com. Dec 30, 2012

Atlantic City Atlantic City, N.J., will get jolt of new jobs, excitement, revenue in 2012. With the massive Revel casino set to open in March and provide about 5,000 jobs -- and with construction work to begin on Atlantic City's first boutique casino, the Hard Rock -- the New Jersey gambling mecca is poised for a much-needed jolt of excitement and revenue. "The result will be more jobs, more revenue for those investing, and the increase of visitors to Atlantic City and its environs," Pinky Kravitz writes. Dec 30, 2011

Avis Rent A Car Avis Rent A Car and Ink from Chase, the business card from Chase Card Services, a division of JPMorgan Chase & Co., have announced multi-year agreement to offer savings and enhanced benefits on Avis car rentals to Ink from Chase business card customers. As part of the agreement, Avis will provide Ink small-business customers with benefits for enrolling in Avis Corporate Awards, the companyOs car rental program for small firms. These include faster reward days. Avis Corporate Awards members earn one rental point for each paid rental day. Once the threshold has been achieved, members automatically receive a Reward Day Certificate for a future rental. Ink customers can earn Reward Day Certificates at an accelerated pace. Ink customers receive lower rates on Avis vehicles and discounts on amenities such as where2 GPS navigation rentals. Ink members also get member-only offers, such as vehicle upgrades and additional discounts. Ink from Chase also offers customers rapid accumulation of rewards and cash back, featuring five points per dollar spent on office supplies, telecommunication services and cable services on Ink Classic and 5 percent cash back in the same categories on Ink Cash. For more information, visit www.avis.com. Dec 30, 2012

Avoya Travel Home-based travel agents continue to thrive. Industry members say the home-based agent market is growing, even though nobody seems to know the exact number. Agents are developing their level of professionalism through support by host travel agencies and suppliers. "I believe the home-based agent market continues to grow and it's growing with more strength," said Brad Anderson, co-president of Avoya Travel. Dec 22, 2011

Best Western Best Western's Kong outlines comprehensive brand strategy. Best Western has concentrated a lot of energy on its descriptor strategy, but President and CEO David Kong explained at the hotel company's national convention that it is part of a comprehensive brand strategy. "We want to position our brand as relevant and contemporary, make it easy for customers to book business and drive business and boost loyalty," said Kong, who is also chairman of AH&LA. Dec 26, 2011

Chesapeake Lodging Chesapeake Lodging Trust acquires New York hotel. Chesapeake Lodging Trust has closed on a deal to purchase the Holiday Inn Midtown hotel in New York City, increasing its portfolio to 12 properties across six states and Washington. The REIT purchased the 122-room hotel for USD52.2 million. Dec 27, 2011

CityPASS "History of New Year's Eve" Infographic Available -- at No Charge -- to Online Media Outlets That Feature Travel Information. Since 1904, Times Square in New York City has been host to one of the world's most iconic New Year's Eve celebrations. Every Dec. 31, thousands pack the square to count down the seconds to the New Year, while millions more tune in and watch on TV as...

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