May 31, 2006
  Las Vegas Sands won the bid to build Singapore's first gaming resort. The $3 billion Marina Bay Sands will open in 2009 with 2,500 rooms, 1.2 million square feet of meeting space, and numerous restaurants and retail outlets. The Singapore government decided to open the country's usually conservative borders to gaming last year, following a 40-year ban.

The city of San Antonio has begun the search for a new executive director for its convention and visitors bureau a year after Melvin Tennant resigned from the position. Janis Schmees, formerly the president and CEO of the Hershey-Capital (Pa.) Region Visitors Bureau, has been the acting director in the interim. San Antonio's city manager, Sheryl Sculley, is responsible for filling the position, since the bureau is run as a department of the city government. The new director will come on board "as soon as we find the right applicant," said Roland Lozano, assistant to the city manager. "We hope to identify some potential candidates for the manager to interview by the end of the summer."

The final numbers are in for 2005, during which the hotel industry racked up total profits of $22.6 billion, a whopping 35.3 percent increase over 2004. According to Smith Travel Research, the average daily rate was $90.91, up 5.4 percent. The average occupancy rate of 63.1 percent was a 2.9 percent increase over 2004. Revenue per available room also rose, to $57.37, an 8.5 percent jump. Mark Lomanno, president of STR, said the increase in demand, especially from group and transient business travelers, coupled with the limited number of new rooms, fueled the record-high profits. Room demand is expected to increase more than 3 percent in 2006.

Marriott International has its sights set on the Middle East. The company will increase its room supply in that region by 250 percent over the next five years, primarily through the management of hotels representing its high-end, full-service brands, including JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels & Resorts and Marriott Hotels & Resorts. "Each of these three brands will play a huge role in our future growth in the region," said Ed Fuller, president and managing director of international lodging for Marriott. Poised to open by 2007 are the 245-room Aqaba Marriott Hotel & Resort in Jordan; the 247-room JW Marriott Algiers in Algeria, and a 323-room Renaissance as well as a 250-room Renaissance in Bahrain.

In a legal decision that might have significant ramifications for air travel between Europe and the United States, the highest court in the European Union has voided a May 2004 deal whereby European airlines transferred passenger name records (PNRs) to the U.S. government for security screening. For the past two years, the PNRs -- containing 34 pieces of passenger information such as names, addresses and credit card data -- have been sent to the American government within 15 minutes of an aircraft's departure for the United States. The Court of Justice of the European Communities has ordered the practice stopped within 90 days, saying it violates E.U. data privacy laws; the European Commission says it will seek a solution prior to that deadline.

Martha Sheridan has been named president and CEO of the Providence (R.I.) Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, effective June 19. She replaces Brian Whiting, who resigned in February. Sheridan spent a decade working for the bureau, most recently as interim president from December 1997 to February 1999, before moving to the Newport County Convention & Visitors Bureau, where she currently is vice president of sales.

The 2006 Association Executive Compensation and Benefits Study was released last week by the American Society of Association Executives & The Center for Association Leadership. Defining total compensation as salary plus cash compensation (such as bonuses or commissions) and deferred cash compensation (such as 401[k] employer matches), the median compensation for CEOs of associations with 100 or more employees is $362,000, compared with $103,000 for CEOs of associations with staffs of 10 or fewer. Compiled from surveys completed by 925 associations from across the country, the study finds a lingering gender gap: The median compensation for male CEOs is $160,000, compared with $106,000 for female CEOs.