By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer
A new online domain for the travel industry is open for business.
Airlines, theme parks, restaurants, tourism offices and others in
travel and tourism are eligible for Web sites and e-mail addresses
ending in ".travel."
The new domain could give consumers confidence that they are dealing
with a legitimate travel business or group, though the mantra of
"buyer beware" applies: Operators of the domain won't be performing
any credit or criminal background checks or offering any guarantees.
The sneaks and crooks who infest .com now will be soon moving over to
use .travel as well.
New York-based Tralliance Corp., a unit of Internet communications
company Theglobe.com, won approval to run ".travel" earlier this year
from the Internet's key oversight agency, the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.
Since July 1, industry groups such as the Adventure Travel Trade
Association and the International Hotel and Restaurant Association
have been verifying that companies and organizations belong to one of
18 eligible industry sectors.
Those approved were allowed to register and use ".travel" names
Although Tralliance billed the domain as an online space for the
global travel and tourism community, travel journalist and author
Edward Hasbrouck criticized the rules, saying they exclude travelers
at the expense of promoting travel businesses.
"The domain appears to exclude the participation of the largest class
of people who use the Internet to travel -- people who use the Internet
to post their travel stories and photos and all sorts of things,"
Cherian Mathai, Tralliance's chief operating officer, said individuals
might qualify as travel media if they offer a service, such as advice
on how to get there. Simply creating a site with family photos from
Peru's Machu Picchu won't qualify, he said.
Approval is made on a case-by-case basis, he said.
So far, many of the eligible travel sectors are in transportation,
including airlines, bus operators, cruise lines and passenger rail
lines, a group that covers suburban commuter lines but not city subway
systems. Also eligible are hotels, casinos, camp facilities, travel
agents and providers of travel technologies.
To prevent overlap with ".aero," an existing domain for the aviation
industry, airports and aerospace companies don't qualify -- but
Mathai said the list will be continually reviewed by a nonprofit group
of travel associations, the Travel Partnership Corp., and may grow to
include retailers of luggage, for instance.
ICANN has been creating new Internet suffixes partly because existing
ones like ".com" are crowded, making easy-to-remember addresses
difficult to obtain. Nonetheless, Web sites that already have a ".com"
name are likely to keep it and automatically redirect visitors to the
new ".travel" site instead.
"Nobody wants to give up a dot-com name at this stage," Mathai said.
On the Net:
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Anyone notice things smelling a little
about this report? First of all, the reporter referred to ICANN as
"the internet's key oversight agency", but has been explained to me,
God knows how many times, imbecile that I am, that ICANN has very
little or no authority on the net. Well, shit! Let's get our stories
straight, okay? Either ICANN runs the internet (and I suggest they
do, primarily to watch out for the business interests that wish to
take it over, replete with contracts, and authority to use it, etc) or
they do not have such oversight ability. When I say they do have such
authority, and point out ways I feel they abuse that authority where
regular, small netizens are concerned, I can count on three or four of
you to contradict me and run to ICANN's rescue, poor little picked
upon ICANN being blamed for things they cannot help. Now this writer,
Anick Jesdanun refers to them as 'key' and explains how they (ICANN)
will exercise such tight control over the domain, as to who can and
who cannot get in the domain .travel, etc. So come on guys, do your
thing with Anick Jesdanun's claim about ICANN being 'key', or is your
ire only reserved when someone like myself points out that Vint Cerf
needs to quit marching around naked running the net for the best
interests of his previous employer MCI and the other major
corporations now getting cozy with the net? I mean, even _I_ am not as
dumb as I look? If I suggested that .org should be as tightly
controlled as they purport .travel will be, some of you are bound to
whimper and tell me how _anyone_ can get into .org, the charter means
nothing, etc, and that ICANN cannot help it, etc.
And the fact that ICANN is perfectly willing and able to create new
domains such as .biz, .info, .aero, .museum, .travel, etc but flatly
refuses to create the more realistic and useful domains of .xxx, .spam
and .scam and .virus should tell you exactly where their heads are at.
I recommend that netters simply begin to refuse to pay the extortion
fees ICANN asks for, and begin their own root servers, saying to hell
with ICANN and Vint Cerf once and for all. PAT]