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» Featured Columnists | By Scott Kauffman | February 11, 2011 9:00 AM ET

American Resort Development Association Sees Travel Increase

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Whether it will be a trip to renew your wedding vows or a back-to-nature excursion, Americans will be traveling more in 2011.  Economic growth in the travel industry is expected to be the strongest since the recession according to the recently released United States Travel Association's Travel Outlook Report.

TripAdvisor estimates that 69 percent of travelers will take international trips this year, and of that group, 52 percent will travel to Europe, 13 percent will visit Asia and 12 percent will journey to South America.  According to them, the top three international destinations U.S. travelers plan to visit in 2011 are Paris, London and Rome, with 75 percent planning to visit a U.S. city.  Las Vegas, New York City and San Francisco are the most popular choices.

"This resurgence of travel is terrific news for the timeshare industry," said Howard Nusbaum. "More travelers are beginning to understand the value and comfort of a timeshare vacation and with resorts in all of these popular 2011 destinations, vacationers will find exactly what they need."

Popular cultural events often drive travel to certain destinations and Orbitz predicts that London will be a travel hotspot due in part to the royal wedding in April.  They also see increased interest in Australia as a result of Oprah Winfrey's recent trip down under.

Technology will also play an important role in travel this year and in years to come.  Social networking sites like Facebook, and review sites like TripAdvisor will help travelers decide where to go and then report their experience during and after their trip for others to see and learn from.  Smart phones and the iPad, with the immediacy of recommendations available through location-sharing services such as Foursquare, will become even more important travel gadgets.

Travel analyst Henry Harteveldt of Forrester Research says, "I think we'll see social travel search/social travel planning emerge as a major trend, thanks to sites that integrate with Facebook."  VacationBetter's Facebook page educates the public about the timeshare industry and ARDA encourages the public to share any information and post about their traveling experiences.

The trends and economic outlook for 2011 are promising and exciting for the industry and travelers alike. 

The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) is the Washington D.C.-based professional association representing the vacation ownership and resort development industries.  Established in 1969, ARDA today has over 1,000 members ranging from privately held firms to publicly traded companies and international corporations with expertise in shared ownership interests in leisure real estate.  The membership also includes timeshare owner associations (HOAs), resort management companies, and owners through the ARDA Resort Owners Coalition (ARDA-ROC).

Investment Group Acquires Tamarack Resort Debt

(BOISE, IDAHO) -- An Idaho investment group has purchased a bank loan to Tamarack Resort's golf course, according to a report by Associated Press. The transaction indicates the company is deeply interested in buying the entire vacation development.

Green Valley Holdings of Eagle, Idaho bought the loan from Pacific Continental Bank for Tamarack's 18-hole Osprey Meadows golf course designed by acclaimed architect Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Pacific Continental of Eugene, Ore., had loaned $3.5 million for the golf course project. Green Valley is now working to purchase the golf course. Idaho investor Hopkins Financial controls 60% of the golf course through two funds.

Green Valley spokesman John Fitzgerald said his company is working on additional transactions, including chairlifts owned by Bank of America's leasing division.

Fitzgerald said Green Valley, which has offered $40 million for Tamarack, is "pursuing every avenue we can find to purchase the whole resort."

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