Trials for travel industry, treats for travelers

Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:03am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) Are those faraway places calling your name?

Now may be the time to answer. The travel industry's 'annus horribilis' has opened some once-in-a-lifetime deals for consumers ready, willing and able to get away from it all, according to an industry expert.

"The last year was miserable, probably one of the worst for the travel industry," said William Maloney, CEO of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), the world's largest association of travel professionals.

"Airlines, hotels, tours, cruise lines. Everyone saw a downturn in revenue."

But while the recession lingers, Maloney says, consumers can clean up in luxury deals.

"We can't predict the rate of recovery," he explained. "But we're confident that in the first six months there will remain extraordinary values."

If there is any silver lining to the industry's woes, it belongs to the consumer.

"Prices have never been better," Maloney said. "Ordinary people now have access to luxury accommodations and inexpensive vacations."   Continued...

<p>The Eiffel Tower is seen lighted in the colours of Turkey as part of events marking the 'Season of Turkey in France', in Paris October 6, 2009. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes</p>