Power Grab by Travel Industry

Representatives of the international airline cartel IATA and other large travel industry companies have been lobbying the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to create a top-level Internet domain name dot travel. The use of ".travel" domains would be restricted to those same companies, with independent consumer advocates like myself shut out. My fellow Avalon Travel Publishing author Edward Hasbrouck has been shedding light on this backroom process for several years. Here's a summary of Edward's position:
"I've been trying to report on ICANN's decision-making on new top-level Internet domain names for travel (".travel" and ".aero".) Despite requirements in its bylaws for the maximum extent feasible of transparency, ICANN has made decisions and held meetings in secret, refused to provide access to documents, and so forth. I've protested, and requested an "independent review" (also provided for by ICANN bylaws) of whether ICANN has complied with its own transparency rules."

ICANN's Board of Directors is currently meeting in Wellington, New Zealand, and I agree with Edward that for ICANN to grant the exclusive use of ".travel" domains to a few large corporations is against the public interest. These companies represent only themselves. Anyone who has ever tried to use free brochures or company websites to plan a trip will know from experience that this type of advertising is only intended to trigger spending. Such ads never outline the full range of options available to travelers (as I try to do in my guidebooks).

To give the big bucks travel industry exclusive control of ".travel" strikes me as just another power grab, although in the end it may become a useful way of identifying tainted information. If ICANN does buckle under to IATA pressure, consumers will soon learn to recognize any website using a ".travel" domain as company advertising pure and simple. Just as companies like Air Tahiti which are currently using ".aero" domains are all official airlines. It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out.

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