A record number of sightseers are expected to spend their vacations this summer at Orange County beaches, amusement parks and other attractions, according to officials who monitor the county's tourism industry.
The reasons? Terrorism abroad is expected to keep many Americans home this summer. That, and a drop in gasoline prices are making see-America-first vacations even more affordable and attractive.
Bill Snyder, president of the Anaheim Area Visitor and Convention Bureau, said tourist industry officials had hoped last year's figures--$4.5 billion spent by 32.4 million visitors--would increase by about 5%. But already 12.3% more tourists have visited the county so far this year.
Hotel rooms in Orange County are being booked at a rate of 4.6% over the record year of 1985, he said.
"I think this summer will be the biggest we've ever had. I expect 3 million people will visit," said Jim Lyon, president of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and Civic Assn.
At Disneyland, Orange County's premiere tourist landmark, officials are expecting more visitors than the 10 million who showed up last year--half of them in the summer. Already, Easter was "very busy," spokesman Bob Roth said.
Officials at Knott's Berry Farm, too, are expecting a record-breaking summer.