- The Washington Times - Friday, July 5, 2002

Business is booming at the region's beaches and other tourist destinations as folks stay closer to home this summer.
It's exactly what tourism officials predicted.
"By all accounts we're doing very well this summer," said Donna Abbott, a spokeswoman for Ocean City's Department of Tourism. "Hotel occupancy is up."
Most weekends since Memorial Day the number of vacationers at the beachfront town a three-hour drive from Washington has exceeded the total from the same time last year, Ms. Abbott said.
On Memorial Day weekend, for example, Ocean City had about 21,000 more visitors than last year. The first weekend in June visitors were up by 8,000. Ocean City usually attracts about 4 million between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach, Ocean City's neighboring towns, have had at least a 15 percent increase in visitors in May and June.
That's a "conservative estimate," said Carol Everhart, chief executive of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.
For the last five years those beaches have had consistently fewer visitors each year during April, May and June.
Miss Everhart said visitors are typically gearing up for summer in those months and not inclined to come to the beach until later in the season.
"It's wonderful to see the area so popular so early in the summer," she said.
She attributes the increase in visitation this summer to the economy and to people "truly visiting places closer to home."
The threat of more terrorist attacks has kept travelers closer to home and made them more likely to drive to their destination.
Nationally, the AAA expects from 83 percent to 85 percent of travel this summer to be undertaken by car, about 4 percent more than usual.
In Washington last month weekly hotel occupancy was down compared with the same time last year, but officials are optimistic that special promotions and offers will draw more visitors.
City attractions are getting "good attendance" at programs relating to "Jacqueline Kennedy's Washington a Citywide Celebration," said Vicki Isley, a spokeswoman for the Washington D.C. Convention and Tourism Corp.
The city has sold about 100 packages for the citywide cultural promotion that includes hotel room nights, Metro passes and tickets to the exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
Six Flags America, a day-trip destination in Largo, is "doing extremely well" this season, said spokeswoman Karin Korpowski, who would not disclose specific attendance figures.
"We're a local park," she said. "We're lucky to be located close to D.C."
The park's main chunk of visitors come from the Washington, Northern Virginia and Baltimore areas.
Local advertising for Hershey Park, which began in mid-May, seems to be paying off as more visitors from the metropolitan and Baltimore areas have poured in compared with last year.
From May to June the number of Washington-area visitors was up almost 40 percent, said Kathy Burrows, public relations manager at Hershey Park.
The park has had an almost 25 percent increase in visitors from Baltimore, she said. It is located in Hershey, Pa., a little more than 130 miles, or about a two-hour drive, from Washington.
"Depending on the weather, we're on track to have a very good year," Miss Burrows said.

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