Travel Briefs - Jan. 2006
Online Bookings --
The number of Americans booking their travel online increased substantially last year, according to a study by the Travel Industry Association of America and USDM.net. About 79 million U.S. travelers, or 78%, researched their trips on the internet, compared with 65% in 2004. And 82% of those booked reservations online, compared with 70% the previous year.
Rating Service --
During an event in Orlando in November, San Francisco-based TravelPost.com launched its new website, which features user reviews of destinations. Readers can see reviews from people like themselves; each posting contains the person's gender, age, travel budget category such as luxury or moderate, length of stay and reason for travel, such as business or leisure.
After being closed for more than a year following the 2004 hurricanes, Marineland near St. Augustine has reopened with a new focus on interactive programs that let visitors swim with dolphins. The park is open only on weekends, and prices range from $5 for general admission to $120 for a 30-minute swim. Details: Marineland.net.
Sea World --
This spring, Anheuser-Busch is launching a new branding campaign for its three SeaWorld parks. Changes will include an updated show for Shamu, along with new merchandise and a Shamu-themed roller coaster.
Universal Studios --
After a phenomenal year at its Orlando parks in 2004 when it opened its Revenge of the Mummy ride, Universal saw a 16% decline in ticket sales last year. Owners cite several reasons, including hurricanes, high gas prices and 50th anniversary festivities at competing Walt Disney World.
Cypress Gardens --
Owner Kent Buescher is planning to add a wooden roller coaster and bring back the park's famous water-ski shows.