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Feb 21st
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Home Travel Western Travel Buzz Latest News, Deals & Savings for Feb. 16

Latest News, Deals & Savings for Feb. 16

This week: Recession forcing Alaska travel industry to offer incredible deals, California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park already has spring desert blooms, and Air Canada plans new service between Calgary and San Diego and Portland

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Economy Forcing Alaska to Roll Out Incredible Travel Deals

The Alaska Travel Industry Association has launched an emergency campaign to heavily market Alaska travel values this winter and spring in hopes of bolstering what is shaping up to be one of the state's slowest travel seasons on record.

Despite Alaska's year-long plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary of statehood in 2009, the association predicts visitation will be off anywhere from 10 to 30 percent during the state's high season - May to September of 2009.

The worldwide economic crisis is at the heart of the expected decline in visitation to Alaska, and is affecting the travel industry nationwide. With more and more people choosing "staycations," the state's travel industry is working hard to demonstrate to consumers that an Alaska trip is a better deal this year than ever.

"The reports we're hearing from our members are alarming," said Ron Peck, president and COO of ATIA. "Bookings are coming in very slowly right now. We're hoping this campaign will change some minds and convince people that a vacation to Alaska is really more affordable and accessible than they may think."

The campaign's focus is the newly created Web site
www.alaskashottestdeals.com .

The site will be regularly updated with specials and deals offered by the 1,100 member businesses that make up the association. Television advertising and public relations efforts will also herald the particularly good deals available when you travel to Alaska this year.

"We're seeing seven-night Alaska cruises for as little as $399," Peck said. "You can't even check into a hotel for a week for that little - let alone eat. Between the last-minute travel deals and the fact that 2009 marks the our 50th anniversary of statehood, there has never been a better year to come to Alaska."

ATIA is a non-profit, membership-based organization made up of all facets of Alaska's visitor industry and representing over 1,100 large and small travel-related businesses. The association serves as the voice of Alaska's tourism industry and maintains the TravelAlaska.com Web site for visitors interested in the state.

Visit Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for Spring Wildflowers

One of the West's great visual treats not to be missed are the many varieties of spring desert wildflowers, and early blooms of sand verbena, popcorn flower, spectacle pod, brittlebush, chuparosa, and even the spectacular desert lily are already popping up in California's Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

"We anticipate the peak blooming season to hit will be between the third week of February and the second week of March, depending on the weather," said Michael Rodriques, the manager of the park's Visitor Center. "For those who enjoy the thrill of the hunt and would like to beat the crowds, right now is the perfect time to visit. Little pockets of wildflowers are being found along roadsides, in sandy washes, and along trails in the Park."

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is California's largest state park and is the largest state park in the contiguous United States, with more than 600,000 acres.

It extends into three counties: San Diego, Imperial and Riverside. From just above sea level to more than 6,000 feet, the park has unique and diverse landscapes and environments, and provides habitat for many endangered and rare species including Peninsular bighorn sheep, least Bell's vireo, Borrego bedstraw and Arizona Carlowrightia.

When the bloom reaches its peak, the massive fields of wildflowers are found at the northern edge of Borrego Springs on Henderson Canyon Road and at the northern end of DiGiorgio Road, about quarter mile beyond the end of the pavement.

A great variety of wildflowers are found along washes or in the canyons of the Park. An off-road trip through the badlands, a hike up Borrego Palm Canyon or a trip to Plum Canyon may yield a startling array of wildflowers.

Lower elevation areas in the southern end of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are currently seeing flower blooms in areas such as the Carrizo Badlands overlook at Sweeney Pass, the Bow Willow Campground, and Indian Valley.

Call the Wildflower Hotline (760) 767-4684 to get regularly updated information about this year's bloom. You can also visit Anza-Borrego Desert State Park's website
http://parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=638 or Anza-Borrego Foundation and Institute's website (www.theABF.org) for wildflower sightings and locations that are updated weekly.

Air Canada Plans New Service to San Diego and Portland

Air Canada said this summer it will offer new non-stop service between Calgary, Alberta and San Diego, California and Portland, Oregon, operated by the airline's contract carrier, Air Canada Jazz.

Starting May 15, 2009, Air Canada will offer the only daily non-stop service between San Diego, California and Calgary, Alberta, and on June 15, new non-stop flights between Portland, Oregon and Calgary will begin.

"We are delighted to offer our U.S. customers the convenience of the only daily non-stop services to Calgary from San Diego and Portland," said Daniel Shurz, Vice President, Network Planning. "We know our customers appreciate the choice and convenience of more non-stop flights and, with the introduction of these new routes, the airline continues to offer the most extensive route network from Calgary of any airline."

San Diego: AC8307 departs Calgary at 12:55, arriving in San Diego at 15:00. AC8308 departs San Diego at 11:55, arriving back in Calgary at 16:05. Flights will be operated by Air Canada Jazz onboard a 75-seat Bombardier CRJ-705 aircraft offering a choice of executive or economy class service, and are timed for convenient connections in Calgary to and from Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg and Toronto. The new San Diego-Calgary service complements Air Canada's daily San Diego-Vancouver non-stop service.

Portland: AC8315 departs Calgary at 13:00, arriving in Portland at 13:37. AC 8316 departs Portland at 14:10, arriving back in Calgary at 16:45. Flights will be operated by Air Canada Jazz onboard 50-seat CRJ jet aircraft, and are timed for convenient connections in Calgary to and from Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. The new Portland-Calgary service complements Air Canada's Portland-Vancouver non-stop service.

The Embraer 190 and the Bombardier CRJ-705 aircraft feature free personal audio-video entertainment at every seat with a choice of 24 movies and 100 hours of TV programming. Further details and a virtual tour of Air Canada's new cabin amenities, including personal seatback entertainment at every seat, are available at:
www.aircanada.com  .