The U.S. State Department has modified the Western Hemisphere
Travel Initiative to allow U.S. citizens to fly to and from Canada,
Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda without a passport through Sept.
30. U.S. citizens will only have to present customs officials with
a government-issued photo ID and a printout of a government website
showing proof that the citizen has applied for a passport. A State
Department official cited "record-breaking demand for passports"
and "longer-than-expected processing times for passport
applications" as the reasons for the change.
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, will close on Jan. 1, 2008, to be
redeveloped as an office high-rise, the hotel company announced
last week. Ritz-Carlton currently is developing a new Hong Kong
hotel, the 300-room Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, Kowloon, in a
1,574-foot tower the company says will be the tallest hotel in the
world. The new property is expected to open in 2010.
The Professional Convention Management Association has launched
the Live Learning Center, an online learning management system
aiming to make education more accessible to members of the meetings
industry. The center will offer live programming from events such
as the PCMA Annual Meeting and the Leadership Conference, as well
as stand-alone sessions. Available now are recordings of sessions
from the 2007 Annual Meeting and the 2007 Leadership Conference,
along with slide presentations, handouts, speaker bios and other
information. The sessions are free for attendees; members and
nonmembers pay fees for various parts of the content. The
association hopes soon to offer a system for awarding CEU credits
to those who complete online sessions.
The Convention Industry Council now offers the Certified Meeting
Professional application and CMP handbook as free downloads from www.conventionindustry.org. Nearly 12,200 people in 34
countries hold the CMP designation. Plans are in the works to
provide additional online services supporting the certification
Having interviewed five candidates for the position of CEO of
the Palm Beach County (Fla.) Convention and Visitors Bureau, the
search committee goes in front of the CVB board of directors today
to see if the committee should continue its search or further
pursue those five people. The five are Thomas Anderson,
co-president and chief marketing officer, Distinctive Lifestyle;
Cleo Battle, vice president of convention sales for Richmond (Va.)
Metropolitan CVB; Carolyn McCormick, managing director of North
Carolina's Outer Banks CVB; R. Moke McGowan, president of New
York's Long Island CVB and Sports Commission; and Jorge Pasquera,
president and COO of the Aruba Hotel and Tourism
Association. Former CEO Warren "Mac" McLaughlin took early
retirement last November during a $1.6 million embezzlement
investigation involving one of his employees.
A $12 million renovation has been completed at the Mansion
Rooms, new function space at the 893-room New York Palace Hotel.
The new 13,000-square-foot venue occupies the fourth and fifth
floors of the Villard Mansion, which serves as the hotel's
entryway. The 55-story property now offers 24 meeting rooms
totaling 22,000 square feet of space, as well as a restaurant, a
spa and a fitness center.