- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2002

LOS ANGELES Deborah Dallinger's hassles as she navigated security checks on her recent European vacation persuaded her to stick closer to home this summer.
"It's one thing to spend 10 hours on a plane to France, but it's another to spend four hours at the airport," said the 52-year-old Walnut Creek, Calif., resident. "When I go on vacation, I just want it to be easy."
Miss Dallinger will spend her remaining vacation driving to visit friends in Santa Barbara and staying at her favorite bed and breakfast in Inverness, north of San Francisco. Her experience is like that of many Americans who are flocking to state parks, beaches and the mountains while doing more driving and less flying.
Although tourism across the country is expected to continue its gradual recovery this summer from the devastating effect of the September 11 terrorist attacks, people are definitely traveling differently.
"More people are driving, and people have basically doubled the amount they are willing to drive to avoid the hassle of airports," said Ed McWilliams of D.K. Shifflet & Associates Ltd., which has polled 2,400 frequent travelers nationwide every week since October.
The survey found that people are willing to drive as much as eight hours to avoid the hassles and delays prompted by heightened security at airports. That's twice as long as they were willing to drive before September 11.
Analysts say tourism should be close to last summer's level, though not all sectors should recover equally. Hotels will see an uneven recovery as travelers spend more time visiting family members and campgrounds.
"The recovery has been driven by leisure travelers," said Peter Yesawich, president of Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown, a marketing firm. "Business travel demand flatlined last November and has not recovered."
Vermont tourism officials are expecting bookings at inns and lodges to be on par with last year, while campground reservations are running ahead of previous levels, a reflection of the trend toward more family travel.
"Traditionally at the state parks, when the economy is down a little, people pick a less expensive way of vacation," said Larry Simino, director of state parks.
People also are choosing to spend their time off with loved ones.
"Especially after last fall, people seem to be doing more family things," said Diane Konrady of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.
In California, campgrounds saw an immediate 20 percent jump in reservations after September 11, an indication that people who otherwise might have planned out-of-state trips had decided to stay close to home. Bed-and-breakfast inns in the state's wine country and other locales also are seeing an increase in guests.
Inns offering packages that include dinner at a local restaurant or tours of nearby attractions are tapping into a greater desire for deals. The Inn at Occidental in Sonoma, Calif., already has seen a return to its pre-September 11 levels and is reporting an increase in guests from out of state as well.
"We're starting to see honeymooners and people from the Midwest traveling again," said innkeeper Bill Bullard. "It's really encouraging."
In New York City, tourism officials are expecting hotel occupancy rates to be about 2 percent lower than last summer.
And in Orlando, Fla., theme parks expect robust attendance.
"The theme parks are doing better than last year, and that says something after 9/11," said Bob Gault, president and CEO of Universal Orlando. "Groups that don't want to fly aren't hesitating about jumping in a car and driving. We're seeing a lot of drive traffic so far."
But some parts of the country are facing specific challenges to tourism.
In Arizona, officials are worried tourists will stay away because of a wildfire raging in the eastern part of the state.
"People are watching CNN and they think the entire state is in a standstill," said Clarinda Vail, co-owner of the hotel in Tusayan, a community on the road to the Grand Canyon's South Rim. "We're 200 miles away from the fire; we're not even affected by the smoke."
In Florida, officials are bracing for a drop in Latin visitors because of economic and political turmoil in South America. Of the estimated 3 million South Americans who visit the United States each year, 60 percent spend time in South Florida.


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