Marriott Q1 profits surge 29pcMarriott International Inc has reported a 29 per cent increase in its first-quarter net earnings for 2001 to $121 million. The international hotel group's diluted earnings per share for the quarter ending March 23 increased 27 per cent to 47 cents. Marriott said its systemwide sales totalled $4.7 billion, an increase of 11 per cent compared to the 2000 first quarter. After adjusting for a one-time write-off in the first quarter of last year of a contract investment by its distribution services business, this year's first quarter earnings per share was up 17.5 per cent. Dubai sets up tourism police DUBAI: Dubai police have set up a new Tourist Security Department as part of ambitious government plans to attract tens of millions of tourists a year. Police chief Major-General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said the new unit aimed to create a sense of security for tourists, investigate and gather information on crimes or problems faced by them, coordinate steps with tourism companies, hotels and airlines to protect tourists from illegal practices and crimes such as pickpocketing, deal with cases involving tourists at police stations without wasting their time and planning security procedures to deal with annual increases in the number of tourists. Boeing bid to sell jets to Qatar DOHA: US planemaker Boeing sees Qatar Airways (QA) as a prospective buyer for its airliners including the proposed high-speed Sonic Cruiser, which is expected to be ready in 2007. Douglas M Groseclose, Boeing vice-president (International sales - commercial airplanes), said he had held talks with Qatar Airways on steps to bolster Boeing's relationship with the national carrier and hoped it would pick up some of Boeing jetliners in future. Italy, Sharjah to boost links SHARJAH: The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), and 'Italy in the Emirates' have launched several joint projects to strengthen the cultural, heritage and tourism links between the UAE and Italy kicking off with a demonstration of cuisine from northwest Italy's Piedmont region by leading Italian culinary instructor Mario Sobbia. QA chooses SITA for cargo ops DOHA: Qatar Airways (QA) has chosen SITA's SuperCargo to automate all aspects of its cargo operations - from reservations to final delivery and transfer, SITA said. Using the Application Service Provider (ASP) model, SITA will combine software, implementation, infrastructure, service and support of Supercargo on a rental basis, with QA paying only for access and use of the application. Tourism to yield $537bn for central Europe Tourism is expected to contribute $537 billion to the economies of the six Central European Countries Travel Association (CECTA) member countries by the year 2010, officials from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland were told at their first annual Central European Travel Conference. World Tourism Organisation Secretary General Francesco Frangialli congratulated the central European countries for their initiative in promoting borderless tourism within the region. Security systems firm plans Bahrain base MANAMA: US company Laser Data Command (LDC) which has developed a high-security airline boarding system is to make Bahrain its regional base, the chairman and chief executive officer of the Minnesota-based firm, John Barclay has said after talks with Bahrain Airport Services (BAS), the Health Ministry and business organisations. NetJets offers fractional aircraft ownership DUBAI: NetJets International, a fractional aircraft ownership programme, was launched in Abu Dhabi and Dubai recently as part of the company's plans to expand operations in the Gulf through its Middle East programme. Charles Lynch, vice-president (marketing) of Executive Jet Inc, said the programme allows businessmen, individuals, and corporations to own a private aircraft and take advantage of part of the worldwide privileges at 'just a fraction'of its cost. Saudi airport traffic put at 29.5m JEDDAH: A total of 29.5 million passengers passed through Saudi Arabian airports last year, an increase of 2.57 per cent over the previous year. Official statistics showed Saudi airports handled 500,000 tonnes of cargo last year compared to 470,000 in the previous year, an increase of 0.7 per cent. Oman eases visa rules MUSCAT: New visa facilities to attract investors and tourists to Oman will be introduced soon, a top government official has said.Visas will be issued to eligible investors of all nationalities except Israel on arrival in Oman, Colonel Said bin Hilal Al Kindi, Director-General of Passports and Residency of the Royal Oman Police told a seminar.