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.
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 (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 ".travel" names as from Monday. Domains registered on the first day include "Amtrak.travel," "Bluebird-Inn.travel," "Disneyland.travel" and "RoyalCaribbeanCruise.travel."
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," Hasbrouck said.