Wednesday, February 29, 2012

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES LTD. EXERCISES OPTION TO BUILD SECOND “PROJECT SUNSHINE” SHIP

 

MIAMI – February 29, 2012 – Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) exercised its option to build a second Sunshine-class cruise ship to be delivered in the Spring 2015.  The ship will be built by German shipbuilder Meyer Werft on substantially the same terms as the first Sunshine ship.   “This confirms our continued confidence in the success of this new generation of ships and our strong conviction about the Royal Caribbean International brand,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) is a global cruise vacation company that also operates Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Pullmantur, CDF Croisieres de France, as well as TUI Cruises through a 50 percent joint venture with TUI AG.  The company owns a combined total of 40 ships and has three ships on order.  It also offers unique land-tour vacations in Alaska, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Dubai, Europe and South America. 

Certain statements in this news release are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements do not guarantee future performance and may involve risks, uncertainties and other factors, which could cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from the future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied in those forward-looking statements. These risks, uncertainties, and other factors are described in detail in Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Los Angeles Times Travel Show Hits 21% Increase in Attendance


Addition of Industry Conference Expands Trade Participation by 400%

LOS ANGELES – February 8, 2012 – The Los Angeles Times’ 14th-annual Travel Show and inaugural industry conference, January 27-29, convened more than 24,300 celebrity speakers, travel professionals, industry leaders, members of the media and consumers at the L.A. Convention Center, smashing the previous attendance record by more than 21 percent and officially making it the must-attend Southern California travel event of the year.

“The 2012 Travel Show surpassed our wildest attendance expectations and it’s enormously gratifying to have our first industry-focused conference receive such a great response,” said David Burns, The Times vice president, promotional revenue, sports and events. “We effectively brought the world to Southern California in great style.”

The Times partnered with MSE Management and IMG Worldwide to produce the three-day event, launching an all-day industry conference, as well as a design and programming upgrade. Of note was the quality and variety of featured speakers, including Lisa Ling, Rick Steves, Arthur Frommer, Adam Richman, Rudy Maxa, Don Wildman, Josh Gates and Johnny Jet, alongside experts from National Geographic Channel, LivingSocial Escapes, Travelzoo, Cooking Channel, leading industry organizations and The Times award-winning travel and photo staff.

“I had a great time talking to people that are so passionate about travel,” said Ling, host of “Our America” on the Oprah Winfrey Network. “Travel is what propelled me to want to be a journalist and being exposed to so much in the world really changed my life.”

More than 2,000 travel professionals seized the business-to-business opportunity of attending the new industry conference sessions, a show floor preview and the consumer event. An exit survey conducted by The Times indicated that a wide range of travelers were in attendance, with nearly 60 percent visiting for the first time. Consumers spent an average of four hours exploring the show floor, with 90 percent seeking information about potential destinations and 94 percent planning to travel within the year.

“The Los Angeles Times Travel Show and industry conference created an important forum linking organizations, suppliers and the entire trade together to share valuable information – one place, one time, one event,” said John Severini, president and CEO of the California Travel Association. “This event was a big success.”

Standout exhibitors Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Ecuador Ministry of Tourism, Mexico Tourism Board and Visit Newport Beach were presented with awards from the show organizers.

“We started six years ago with just a table and two posters,” said Trust Lin, director of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. “Last year, we won ‘Best of Show,’ and we keep participating and expanded our presence because it really works. People waited in line to get in, they stayed longer and asked informed questions about where to go in Taiwan.”

Jose Vallejo, director of marketing for the Ecuador Ministry of Tourism added, “The Los Angeles Times Travel Show provided an excellent venue for educating Southern Californians about Ecuador’s four regions – the Amazon, the Andes, the Pacific Coast and the Galapagos. We were very happy to connect directly with people that have recently visited or who are now planning trips to Ecuador.”

“The Los Angeles Times Travel Show was a great experience all around,” said Virginia Goff, manager of partnership marketing & industry relations at Tourism Ireland. “We were overwhelmed by the crowds, the response to our cooking demo on the Culinary Stage and the number of people looking to book trips to Ireland.”

“Participating in this show allowed us to leverage the exposure and audience that the Los Angeles Times has to offer, which is a great fit for us,” said Michelle Lindsey, western region manager for American Express Travel Services, the show’s booking agent. “There were very savvy travelers at the show and we were able to provide travel services for a variety of destinations, from high-end African safaris to Caribbean cruises.”

The Los Angeles Times Travel Show and industry conference returns to the L.A. Convention Center February 22-24, 2013. For information about sponsorship or exhibiting, visit latimes.com/travelshow.
To view photos from the event, go to: latimes.com/travelshow or Facebook.com/LATimesEvents.

About the Los Angeles Times Media Group
The Los Angeles Times Media Group (LATMG) businesses and affiliates include the Los Angeles Times, The Envelope, Times Community News, LA, Los Angeles Times Magazine and Hoy Los Angeles and reach approximately 5.1 million or 38% of all adults in the Southern California marketplace. LATMG also owns and operates California Community News as well as Tribune Direct’s west coast division and is part of Tribune Company, one of the country’s leading media companies with businesses in publishing, the Internet and broadcasting.

The flagship Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a readership of 1.9 million Monday through Saturday and 2.9 million on Sunday, more than 17 million unique latimes.com visitors monthly and a combined print and online local weekly audience of 4.4 million. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Times has been covering Southern California for more than 130 years. Additional information is available at http://latimes.com/aboutus.

Bozeman Airport Announces Non-Stop New York Flight

 

New Directs to New York/Newark, Portland, and Oakland to start spring/summer 2012

BIG SKY, Mont. — Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) today announced new, non-stop seasonal summer flights to New York/Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to be operated by United Airlines. With this flight, in addition to two recently announced direct flights to Portland International Airport (PDX) and Oakland International Airport (OAK), Bozeman will offer direct service to 13 major cities during summer 2012.
A 45-minute drive from Big Sky, MT, the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport gives vacationers access to the Biggest Skiing in America at Big Sky Resort, their Basecamp to Yellowstone National Park.
Located just 14 miles from Manhattan, the New York/Newark Liberty International Airport serves the entire New York-New Jersey metropolitan area.  Flights will operate between BZN and EWR once weekly on Saturdays from June 9, 2012 through September 1, 2012, and discussions about potential winter service to EWR for the next ski season are in progress. The flights are scheduled to depart EWR at 8:25 a.m. and arrive BZN at 11:07 a.m. The return flights are scheduled to depart BZN at 12:00 p.m. and arrive EWR at 6:00 p.m.
Alaska/Horizon will offer new daily non-stop service between Bozeman and Portland beginning June 4th and continuing through August 25th, 2012.  Allegiant Air will begin non-stop flights twice weekly to the San Francisco Bay Area via Oakland International Airport beginning April 27, 2012.
“Big Sky Resort is committed to delivering a great all-around vacation experience, and that starts with getting here,” said Meg O’Leary, Big Sky Resort’s Director of Sales and Marketing.  “Big Sky will now be that much more easily accessible to our east and west coast guests, and we believe this will enhance their overall Montana experience.”
The EWR flights are made possible by contributions from Big Sky Resort and other community partners in both Big Sky and Bozeman in conjunction with a Department of Transportation Small Community Air Service Development Grant (SCASDG). 
The newly renamed and expanded Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport recorded an all-time passenger boarding record with 397,822 passengers boarding airline flights in 2011. This represents an 8.9% increase of nearly 33,000 passengers more than the previous record set in 2010.

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport also currently provides direct flight service to the major hubs of Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Seattle as well as other airports such as Phoenix, Minneapolis, and San Francisco.  The airport’s recent expansion makes it the largest airport in Montana. It is currently served by Alaska/Horizon, Allegiant, Delta/Skywest, Frontier, and United/United Express airlines.

 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Costa Rica: Much Ado About Somethin’


By Darlene C. Donloe

For years I’ve been hearing about how wonderful a place Costa Rica was to visit.
Friends and colleagues who had ventured there spoke highly of the friendly people, the incredible food, spectacular beaches, incredible tropical rainforests, volcanoes and more.
I thought, well, that’s sounds just too good to be true.
Turns out, it wasn’t!
Costa Rica is all that my friends and colleagues said it was and more!
There is a warm, welcoming breeze wafting through Costa Rica. It’s not so much the weather as it is the people and their hospitality.
It’s no longer a mystery to me as to why Costa Rica has become one of the most popular destinations in the last decade.
It has all of the aforementioned going for it, plus amazing diving, never-ending amounts of exotic wild life,
natural beauty, art, education, ecological richness, peace or culture. Whether it’s one of those attributes, or all of them, it really doesn’t matter.  It’s a win-win for the country and its visitors.
Tourism has doubled in the last 10 years, making it a sizeable portion of Costa Rica’s economy. In 2007, 1.9 million people visited the country.
The U.S. is the main tourism market. Americans make up a staggering 56% of air arrivals. Unfortunately, of the 14.1 million Americans estimated to want to come to the Central America country, data doesn’t reveal what percentage is African American.  While the country is actively putting forth a promotion initiative, regrettably, there is no direct effort to go after the African American market, according to Maria Amalia Revelo, Deputy Manager & Director of Marketing for the Costa Rica Tourist Board.
Of course, “low budgets” are the culprit.

MINISTER OF TOURISM 
CARLOS RICARDO BENAVIDES
“This is a country with limitations on its budget,” said Carlos Ricardo Benavides, Costa Rica’s Minister of Tourism.
Marketing efforts include direct consumer magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Miami Herald, National Geographic, Traveler, Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast.
About 220,000 Europeans visit annually and the number is growing, according to Revelo.
Not surprising, about 50,000 Americans currently call Costa Rica home.
    To fully understand Costa Rica, here are some basics.  If you need additional information, the Costa Rica Tourist Board (ICT) has a host of tourist ideas.
    Located on the southernmost part of the five republics that comprise Central America, Costa Rica is bordered by Panama to the South and Nicaragua to the North, the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the West.
    If you’re on the Atlantic Coast there is fishing, wild life, tropical rain forests and fabulous beaches.
Located near the equator, the temperature is warm to hot, even at night.
A peace-loving country, Costa Rica has no standing army. After the civil war in 1948, Costa Rica disbanded its army and passed a law forbidding the maintenance of such. Its police officers don’t carry guns. The only armed forces in the country are the border guards, who carry rifles.
    The population in San Jose, the capital, is 1.5 million – counted during the last census in 2002.  There are 5 million residents in the entire country.
    Getting to Costa Rica is fairly easy from the U.S. Lacsa Airlines is a good bet.  Four major U.S. airlines (United, American, Delta and Continental) also have daily routes.  Costa Rican money is called colones. The best place to exchange money is at the airport or in downtown San Jose.
SAN JOSE
        San Jose is not unlike any other major city. In the morning there are lots of folks walking the streets. There’s plenty of hustle and bustle as the day begins. The Central Market, which, of course has fresh produce every day, is crowded, but crucial.
        The streets of San Jose are littered with fast food establishments like Quiznos, Subway, KFC, Burger King, Denny’s, Domino’s  and Wendy’s. So, any Americans hankering for a taste of speedy home eatin’, will find an abundance of express food fare.
        Anyone who wants to truly know about a particular culture, should visit museums. In San Jose there is the Gold Museum, one of the world’s four museums focused on Pre-Columbian gold; the Jade Museum, featuring Pre-Columbia jade; and the National Museum, which exhibits Pre-Columbian art, the indigenous culture, geology, archeology, history and Costa Rican colonial life.
Essential to San Jose’s economy is coffee. The 450 acre Doka Estate Coffee Tour (dokaestate.com), the oldest mill in the country, has tours to explain how coffee is processed. Small groups (16 max) interested in taking the 90-minute tour can also arrange for breakfast and lunch. About 50,000 visitors go through the estate annually.  You’ll learn more about coffee than you ever thought possible. *Warning – Be aware that the flies can be brutal!

 LA PAZ WATERFALL GARDENS

    The La Paz Waterfall Gardens (waterfallgardens.com) is an impressive popular attraction. It’s not to be believed. When people think about Costa Rica, they imagine flowers, birds, butterflies, lush tropical Rain Forests, flowing rivers and spectacular waterfalls. You’ll see all that and more at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Open all year round, the venue has more than 3.5 kilometers of walking trails. There is also a butterfly observatory, hummingbird garden, serpentarium, frog exhibit, Tica House, trout lake and several bird watching areas. Whether you spend the whole day or a couple of hours – there is much to see.
 TEATRO NACIONAL

The Waterfall Gardens is primarily a self-guided tour, but guided tours are available at $35 per group.
If you take a tour of the city, the TEATRO NACIONAL (National Theatre) is a must. Construction started in 1891 and was completed in 1897. At the time it was built, it took 65% of the national budget.
THE TRADITIONAL FARM TOUR is a tourist favorite. Located in La Alegria de Siquirres, the main theme of the tour is Costa Rican customs and traditions.  Visitors are able to witness the production and operation of an actual macadamia farm, plantings of coffee, sugarcane, a botanical garden, and a 150-years-old, oxen-driven, but operational trapiche (sugar cane press).  www.traditionalfarmtour.com

SR. VINCENTE AGUI LAU CEREZO
GOOD EATIN’
La Lluna de Valencia is helmed by chef Sr. Vicente Agui Lau Cerezo, who welcomes everyone to walk through his kitchen. If you’re lucky, he’ll even give you a song. And you can’t walk out without eating some of his paella, which is a genuine gastronomic delight.  The sign over the entrance to his establishment reads, ‘Tot Menos Apurarse,’ which, translated, means ‘Do Everything Without Hurrying.’
HOTELS
One of Costa Rica’s gems is the Almonds and Corals Hotel, located in the midst of the Gandoca Manzanilo Wildlife Refuge.  Anyone into nature will feel right at home because the hotel is actually situated in the jungle. You will hear monkeys up in the trees and see lizards as you walk around the property. There are 24 bungalows, some are suites, others are master suites, both with refrigerators, fans, and tub/jacuzzis. The bungalows lie under giant trees in “a forest so dense that the sunrays hardly touch the ground,” according to the brochure.
There is also a souvenir shop, restaurant, a bar and a spa where you can sit in a Jacuzzi or enjoy a massage while listening to the sounds of nature.
Walk down one of the pathways and in short order you’ll hit the Caribbean Sea.  The hotel is located 25  kilometers from Cahuita National Park, southern part of the Limon Province at the Caribbean Coast. Owners, Marco Odio and Aurora Gamez, are the perfect hosts. Almonds & Corals is absolutely magical!  www.almondsandcorals.com
     Located in the heart of downtown San Jose, the SLEEP INN is an excellent choice for an excellent price.
Conveniently located only 15 kms from the Santamaria International Airport, the Sleep Inn is also only a short distance from tourist attractions like the Teatro Nacional, Museo de Jade, Museo de Oro, and parks that are part of the national heritage.
A collection of boutique hotels, called K Hotels is making its mark in San Jose. K-Hotels are located  worldwide. For information: k-hotels.com 
LIMON
The port city of Puerto Viejo, Limon is an area that is racially diverse. A location with a Caribbean essence, it’s populated by descendants of late 19th-Century Jamaican immigrants. There are also indigenous tribes in the area who still lack electricity in their hillside villages. Spend some time and check out the place via walking, horseback or on a boat.
The Veragua Rainforest Research & Adventure Park, located in Las Brisas de Veragua, recently opened. It’s located next to the International La Amistad Park and the Chirripo Native Reserve. Highlights include a waterfall, a live reptile exhibit, trails through the rainforest, frog exhibit, a live butterfly exhibit and an open air ride through the rainforest. For information: www.veraguarainforest.com.
The Paradero Eco Tour is located 15 minutes from downtown Limon. It boasts 27.5 acres of wildlife and rainforest. There are canal boat rides, bird watching, and a butterfly farm (the largest in the Caribbean coast). The butterflies fly naturally and freely around guests. www.paraderoecotour@yahoo.com

CACAO TRAILS
Chocolate lovers unite!  Limon has a Cacaotrails Chocolate Tour that is self-indulgent and fabulously satisfying.  You will learn all about the history of cocoa, the trees and fruit. Then, you can make chocolate in the traditional way with your own hands. Chocolate lovers will be in heaven. But, it’s more than just a chocolate factory. Their museum demonstrates local Afro-Caribbean culture and its history. Next, you can stroll through the facility’s 25-acre botanical garden and the medicinal garden. Top off the day with a traditional Caribbean meal. They also offer trail and canoe guided tours in the Cahuita National Park. www.cacaotrails.com
MONTEVERDE
One can’t visit Costa Rica and not have Monteverde on the list of places to see. Hold on to your hat, though, because it’s going to be a bumpy, five-hour ride. For the best kind of driving comfort, enlist Transportes Turisticos Cielo Azul. You’ll still be on unpaved roads, but you’ll have a comfy ride. www.cieloazul.co.cr.
Located in north-central Costa Rica, there are a number of attractions for everyone in Monteverde, including adventure, hiking, entertainment, culture, nature and wildlife. Highlights include the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve, the Original Canopy Tour, the World of Insects, Hummingbird Gallery, Serpentario (a collection of 26 species of snakes), the Monteverde Butterfly Garden, the Ecological Sanctuary and more.
EXPOTUR
San Jose has played host to Expotur, a convention designed to attract tourists from the U.S., Canada and South America.
The country’s good manners and hospitality were on display at the Ramada Plaza Herradura Hotel and Convention Center San Jose (*the official convention center) where a number of destination sellers were hawking their wares.  More than 260 vendors, many of who were touting “sustainable tourism,” represented hotels, resorts, cruises, eco-friendly destinations, tours, airlines, travel agents and more.  An impressive gathering, all were there for a central theme – increasing tourism to Costa Rica.
*The 232-room Ramada Plaza Herradura Hotel and Convention Center is located 10 miles from downtown & 4 miles from San Jose airport.
GOING GREEN
        Ecotourism is extremely popular amongst tourists visiting the national parks and protected areas around the country. Costa Rica ranks fifth in the world for its environmental concern. With its natural resources as a priority, Costa Rica protects 26% of the National territory and 16% of its marine surface.
    “By 2021, we want to be the first country to be carbon neutral,” said Benavides. “Sustainability is our main goal. It’s a complex thing, but it’s possible.”
FAMILY
Whether you’re going for business, pleasure, or for a family vacation, Costa Rica has something for everyone. The country has a number of family recreation activities and other programs, including guided visits, games, hikes, food tasting, beach sports and interfacing with several communities and cultural groups.
IN THE KNOW
Costa Rica is easily accessible from the U.S.  It’s 2 hours, 50 minutes from Miami, six hours from Los Angeles and Chicago and five hours from New York.
Costa Rica Tourism and Travel Bureau (011-506) 296-7074; www.costaricabureau.com
Visas: American citizens do not need a visa for a 90-day stay.
CAPITAL:     San Jose
AREA:     51,100 sq km
POPULATION:     3.5 million
LANGUAGE:     Spanish, second language for the majority of the population is English.
OFFICIAL RELIGION: Catholic
WEATHER: Two season – Rainy or winter (May-November); dry, or summer (December - April)
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE: 72 F
CURRENCY     Costa Rican col√≥n
ELECTRICITY     110V, 60Hz