On Capitol Hill, industry leaders
Loews Las Vegas
warn of impact of rising fuel costs
By Johanna Jainchill
dreams for reality.
“We must focus on short- and long-term strategies that ensure availability and affordability of
the fossil fuel our nation needs for the decades to
come,” Parra said.
Mark Brown, AAA’s executive vice president of
association and club services, said a AAA survey
in March found that 84% of respondents have already changed their driving habits or lifestyle in
some way as a result of increased gas prices.
Brown said that when prices climbed to $3.80 per
gallon and up, “consumers started to modify their
behavior. Our surveys showed that people combined
shopping trips and errands, they tended to dine out
less and delayed major purchases.”
A survey by the U.S. Travel Asso-
ciation predicted a similar scenario for
“If travelers are spending more on
gas, they are spending less on hotels,
attractions, shopping and restaurants,
which could have a negative impact on
our overall economy,” said Roger Dow,
U.S. Travel’s CEO. “We need to find so-
lutions that reduce the burden which
rising gas prices are placing on everyday
The survey found that for vacationers planning
to travel by car this summer, 54% said that an in-
crease in gas prices would affect their summer lei-
sure travel plans.
About one-quarter ( 26.8%) of business travelers said that an increase in gas prices would affect
summer business plans.
The data indicated that 44% of vacationers
traveling by car said that an increase in gas prices
would cause them to take fewer trips this summer,
while 19% of business travelers using a car would
take fewer trips.
“There is a very real probability that if gas prices
continue to climb, Americans will change and reduce their travel plans, which would work against
the positive economic momentum that had been
building in recent quarters,” said David Huether,
senior vice president of economics and research at
Hyatt to reflag
Leaders from various sectors of the travel industry last week weighed in on the negative impact on
travel that rising fuel costs could have.
Several industry executives testified on the issue during a hearing of the House Committee on
Natural Resources on March 27.
Sam Gilliland, CEO of Sabre Holdings, told the
committee that one out of every nine jobs in the
U.S. depends on travel and tourism, and that last
year the industry supported 14 million U.S. jobs
and generated $1.8 trillion in economic output.
“But make no mistake,” he said. “The travel in-
dustry’s significant contributions to the
U.S. economy can only be fully realized
if travel remains affordable and within
the budgets of families and businesses of
all sizes and backgrounds. This is where
the high cost of energy rears its head.”
Gilliland cited an Airlines for America
study that every $1 per gallon increase
in the price of jet fuel costs U.S. airlines
“If we do not solve this problem, con-
tinued fuel price escalation will result
in more and more capacity coming out
of the sky, which means less choice for consumers
and more expensive airfares,” Gilliland said. “And
that means fewer families will be able to afford to
fly, fewer tourist dollars will flow into our com-
munities and fewer businesses will be able to send
their personnel on critical trips.”
In suggesting ways to remedy rising fuel costs,
Gilliland said the “linchpin of any plan that is seri-
ous about confronting oil dependence must be the
transformation of a transportation system that is
almost entirely dependent on petroleum.”
He said such a plan would include working to
deploy alternative-fuel vehicles, like natural gas for
heavy-duty trucks and electric vehicles for lighter-
Victor Parra, CEO of the United Motorcoach
Association, said, “While alternative forms of energy in transportation are under development,
and some may hold promise, we must not sacrifice
The Westin Lake Las Vegas.
The Hotel De La Paix in Siem Reap.
The former Loews Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nev., has been
reflagged as the Westin Lake Las
Vegas after a $4 million renovation. Operated by Pyramid Hotel Group, the 493-room hotel
opened in 1999 as the Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas Resort and
became a Loews in 2006. The
property offers more than 94,000
square feet of meetings space.
Hyatt agreed to rebrand the 107-
room Hotel De La Paix, a top-rated luxury boutique property in
Siem Reap, Cambodia. The hotel
is expected to close June 30 for
renovations and reopen as a Park
Hyatt in the first quarter of 2013.
The hotel, which opened in 1957
and was completely redesigned
by noted designer Bill Bensley in
2005, will be Hyatt’s first in Cambodia.
to close May 31
SuperClubs said it will close the
349-room Breezes Trelawney Resort & Spa in Jamaica on May 31 in
preparation for “an impending sale
to an overseas hotel operator.” The
company said it will contact guests
booked for June 1 and beyond to
make alternate arrangements.
Puerto Rico return
seen for Hyatt flag
Hyatt will return to Puerto Rico
after a nine-year absence with the
2014 opening of a hotel-casino
in Bayamon, 15 miles southwest
of San Juan. The site for the 156-
room Hyatt Place Bayamon and El
Tropical Casino is next to the Luis
A. Ferre Science Park.
Sky Team upgrades
global agent site
The Sky Team alliance updated its
Skyteam.biz Web portal for travel
agents in English and French and
will follow with 11 other languages
by the end of the year. In addition
to information about products and
services, such as airport lounge
information, the site includes an
e-learning application called the
Sky Team e-Academy.
coming to Chile
Customs seeks revised declaration rules
Marriott’s Renaissance brand
plans to open its first hotel in
Chile next year, a 181-room hotel
under development in Santiago.
The property is part of a mixed-use complex near shopping and
entertainment in the city’s Vita-cura district.
Alaska Airlines moved into its “
airport of the future” in Terminal 6 at
Los Angeles, featuring a remodeled check-in area that eliminates
traditional ticket counters and offers touch-screen kiosks for check-in and baggage tagging.
The design, already in use in Seattle and Anchorage, reduces wait-times and improves the flow of
passengers and baggage through
the terminal, the airline said.
In a move that could reduce the hassle factor for
gay couples and other nontraditional families,
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is proposing to broaden the definitions of families and
households to permit a greater number of returning U.S. residents to file a single customs declaration when returning from abroad.
Under the existing regulation, the single decla-
ration can only be used by persons deemed to be
“members of a family residing in one household”
who are related “by blood, marriage or adoption.”
In a proposal published in the Federal Register
last week, CBP said that “the definition unneces-
sarily limits the number of individuals who may
file a family customs declaration for articles ac-
Under the new proposal, the government would
include “two adult individuals in a committed re-
lationship, including, but not limited to, longtime
companions and couples in civil unions or do-
mestic partnerships.” Also to be added are foster
children, stepchildren, half-siblings, legal wards
and other dependents.
Egencia, Expedia’s corporate travel agency, agreed to acquire VIA
Travel, which Egencia describes
as the largest travel management
company in Scandinavia.
Founded in 1991, VIA Travel has
offices in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. In addition to
corporate travel, the company offers services for corporate groups
and meetings, leisure travel and
marine transport. Terms were not