U.S. travel growth is expected to slow in 2013 because of a slew of economic factors.

U.S. travel will rise in 2012 by 36 million to 2.04 billion trips, which is a 1.8 percent increase over 2011, an all-time high. In 2013, travel is expected to grow at a slower pace than the last few years, at a rate of 1.1 percent, which results in an additional 23 million trips, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s 2013 travel forecast.

“Right now the economy is in a sluggish mode,” said David Huether, senior vice president of research and economics for the U.S. Travel Association.

Using the economy as a backdrop to better understand the factors that can hurt the travel industry, Huether on Thursday cited reasons why travel spending, although strong recently, probably will moderate in the future.

For one thing, he said, orders for durable goods rose 9.9 percent in September, but dropped 13.1 percent in August. And September’s boost was primarily because of a rebound in aircraft bookings, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Huether also said business confidence is falling and consumer spending is growing at a faster clip than disposable income.

“I think that’s an unsustainable path,” Huether said.

Travel spending is expected to grow by 4.7 percent in 2012 to $852 billion, and 2013 spending growth is projected to slow a bit to 3.6 percent.

Boyd Gaming continues regional expansion

Boyd Gaming Corp. is becoming increasingly more focused on the regional gaming markets.

The company hopes to close its $1.45 billion acquisition of Peninsula Gaming by December, which will give Boyd Gaming ownership of five casinos in Kansas, Iowa and Louisiana.

Add results from those casinos into the Boyd Gaming’s current regional mix of properties in Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana and Louisiana, and by next year, more than two-thirds of the company’s cash flow will come from the southern and midwestern markets.

That’s not to say Boyd Gaming has given up on Las Vegas.

This month, Boyd is launching a a wave of more than 1,000 new low-denomination slot machines at four of its locals casinos — The Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast and Sam’s Town — to drive more business from casual gamblers.

“We have been conservative in our marketing spend, and clearly we need to be more aggressive,” Boyd Gaming Chief Executive Officer Keith Smith said Thursday, after the company announced third quarter earnings.

MGM subsidiary in line for online poker license

Three more companies, including a subsidiary of MGM Resorts International, are a step closer to joining 13 other gaming companies participating in the Nevada’s growing online poker industry.

The state’s Gaming Control Board on Thursday recommended licensure for MGM Online LLC, as well as boutique firms Z4Poker LLC of Las Vegas and Cams LLC of Los Angeles.

The Nevada Gaming Commission will consider the applications at its Nov. 15 meeting.

Hilton brings hospitality plan to Tropicana

Hilton Worldwide customers will again have a prime spot on the Strip to earn and redeem their points. The hotel company said it had reached a franchise deal linking Tropicana Las Vegas to its DoubleTree by Hilton brand beginning in January.

Under the terms of the franchise agreement, Tropicana Las Vegas will continue to own and operate the 35-acre resort, which recently completed almost $200 million in renovations. In return, Hilton Worldwide will be able to offer its loyalty program members a place on the Strip after a 14-year absence.

Tropicana Las Vegas will be integrated into Hilton’s websites and toll-free reservation number. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Aliante now under new management

Station Casinos LLC’s four-year run as owner or manager of the Aliante hotel-casino officially came to an end Thursday, as the resort debuted a new name and management staff for the 200-room property in North Las Vegas.

The Aliante Station name has been removed from the property and replaced with Aliante Casino and Hotel, according to the property’s owner Aliante Gaming LLC.

Lori Nelson, a spokeswoman with Station Casinos, noted that it was announced a year ago that the management contract would end on Nov. 1, giving both sides “a lot of time to ensure a smooth transition.”

The $662 million development opened in late 2008. It was sold to a collection of debt holders as part of the Station Casinos Inc. bankruptcy, but Station Casinos continued to manage the property.

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