- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Many Washington and New York tour operators say they plan to run business as usual on Sept. 11, calling plans for special promotions and packages inappropriate.
"I had thought that September 11 would be a day of remembrance for most people," said Tony Grifa, owner of I'll Take Manhattan Tours, which offers public tours in New York City. "In good taste, it wouldn't be right to offer a special package to the public."
However, Mr. Grifa added that he would conduct private tours for individuals interested in seeing the World Trade Center site.
"But the demand isn't there from people they just want to stay at home or be with their family."
Hank Phillips, president of the National Tour Association, which represents 4,000 travel professionals, said a few tour agencies may advertise specials, but most are not emphasizing September 11.
"These operators are going to reflect like the rest of American businesses on everything that's happened in the last year and hope for a resurgence of travel on the 12th," Mr. Phillips said. "But on the 11th, they, like everyone else, will sit back and be introspective on all that our country has gone through."
Michele Janis said all the promotions that she has seen, as spokeswoman for the American Bus Association, have involved only charitable events.
"The only thing I've heard happening on that day is a voluntary service, from like 18 or 20 tour companies, to provide bus service for families and people going to the Flight 93 memorial service in Pennsylvania."
Ms. Janis said while most operators are planning events for the fall a crucial time for the tourism industry they were respectful with regard to advertising close to the anniversary.
Washington D.C. Convention and Tourism Corp. spokeswoman Vicky Isley said she hadn't heard of any promoted events, besides planned memorials, from the area's tourism community.
It's a sensitive issue, said Bernice Bernstein, president of Heritage Tours Ltd., based in Washington, noting that more customers are requesting to see the Pentagon crash site.
"In fact, I have a group sightseeing on September 11 in D.C., and I had planned to probably add a bus route by the Pentagon because they were interested in a patriotic tour throughout the city," she said. "But the customer has to request this sort of thing because it's not something we're really trying to promote or advertise."
In New York, Jason Shuman, owner of All About New York Tours, said 95 percent of the tour groups request to see ground zero. "People want to know what happened and the history of what was there before," Mr. Shuman said. "In a four-hour tour, a good hour is spent at the ground zero area."
Mr. Shuman said that, in general, he doesn't promote discounts or tour packages publicly. "When an individual calls, I let them know what promotions are going on but they change so quickly day-to-day that it's not worthwhile to have the information on our Web site or on posters."
But Get America LLC, a tour company in New York, won't take any requests for commemorative tours, said tour planner Nina Oren. "We have a tour bus going into Washington that day, but it won't go by the Pentagon, and it shouldn't," Ms. Oren said. "There should not be any capitalizing on something that's hard for many people to remember."
Lack of interest and slow sales for September are also factors, tour operator Kenneth Burnes said. "September is a slow month to begin with, and there isn't enough interest to conceive a special tour," said Mr. Burnes, owner of KB Tours in Washington.
"Besides, it's a rough day for people."

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