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Travel and Tourism In the News - Feb. 2005

Hotel News
Two Florida hotels grabbed top billing in Fodor's Choice Hotels 2005. On the list of the 20 best places in the world to stay, compiled by editors at the travel publisher, are Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom Lodge -- one of two "Places Kids Will Like Best" -- and the Ocean Surf in Miami -- a "True Value."... The 272-room Crowne Plaza Westshore has been transformed into the first hotel for Quorum Hotels & Resorts, which has managed properties nationwide for 17 years. To establish its brand, the Quorum Hotel-Tampa underwent a $5-million renovation that included new decor and is offering guest amenities such as complimentary morning massages, free nightly cocktail receptions and the Tampa area's first Starbucks Cyber Cafe.

Tourism Marketing
With its Here Comes the Sun road show, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau teased cold Northern cities this winter with a day at the beach. The CVB's "Beach on Wheels" -- a truck-mounted glass enclosure featuring live models, real sand and palm trees -- hit Toronto, Buffalo, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. ... Although Tampa Bay is considered a popular vacation spot among Southeast residents, tourism officials want to improve its national draw. The Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau is testing out marketing concepts with focus groups in Boston and Chicago.

Visitor Stats
Canada is the largest source of foreign tourism for Florida, accounting for about 30% of international visitors in 2003, according to a recent study commissioned by the Canadian government. ... Orlando was the top travel destination in the U.S. in visitor spending in 2003, ahead of Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, according to a recent study by Global Insight Inc. for the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau. About 45 million visitors spent $24.9 billion. Although 95% of all visitors were from the U.S., they accounted for only 83% of the total spending, while international visitors spent 17%, or $4.2 billion.

2005 Challenges
Some top issues hotels face this year, according to the International Society of Hospitality Consultants:

Global uncertainty about terror attacks and war
Human resources concerns from increasing staffing needs and a decreasing labor pool
Technology, including a need to upgrade operations as well as service
Changing consumers' expectations as people become more sophisticated and better-educated about travel
Operating cost-creep. Even though hotel revenue is back up to pre-2001 levels, costs are also increasing
Supply issues from increases in alternative forms of lodging such as timeshares, fractional ownership, second homes, camping and cruising
Distribution channel management, as consumers increasingly book their travel through multiple sources, and airlines, because fundamental changes will have an impact on the hotel industry