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Some Tour Rates Fixed

March 13, 1988|ERIC FRIEDHEIM | Friedheim is editor / publisher of Travel Agent magazine.

Question: Now that France and American Express have announced fixed prices for many travel services this year, are other European countries doing the same thing?

Answer: None has announced similar protection against a falling dollar, although some tour operators are guaranteeing their rates. Have your agent check all such possibilities.

Q: We'd like to make a pilgrimage to Lourdes. Do any tour companies include it in their sightseeing?

A: Numerous companies include the French shrine in their itinerary, as do church groups. Your agent is the best source for this information.

Q: You mentioned Earthwatch recently as a source for tax-deductible tours. Are there similar organizations on the West Coast?

A: The Foundation for Field Research, 786 S. Grade Road, Alpine, Calif. 92001, phone (619) 445-9264, offers trips to many parts of the world to study archeology, biology, botany, zoology and other subjects. For example, an expedition to collect Mexican flowering plants costs $690; searching for artifacts in New Guinea, $1,700.

Q: Which cruise lines have American registry, and do they have gambling casinos?

A: Lines with ships sailing under the U.S. flag include American Cruise Lines, American Canadian Line, American Hawaii Cruises, Clipper Cruise Line, Delta Queen Steamboat, Exploration Cruises and Aloha Pacific Cruises, which starts this summer. Gambling is illegal on American vessels.

Q: Are there camping facilities in the West that cater to the handicapped?

A: For information, write for "Access National Parks," a guide for handicapped visitors ($3.50), c/o Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D.C. 20402. Also available is the "Directory of Agencies Concerned with Camping for the Handicapped," ($7) from American Camping Assn., Bradford Woods, Martinsville, Ind. 46151.

Q: We are planning a trip to Phoenix and wonder how far it is from there to Tombstone. Is it worthwhile visiting and are there good hotels?

A: Tombstone is about a 3 1/2-hour drive from Phoenix and includes historic attractions of the American West. Among them are the OK Corral, site of famous frontier battles; Boothill Graveyard, where many famous gunfighters are buried, and the Wells Fargo Museum, with more than 75,000 items. Several modern motels are available.

Q: Some recent travel guides claim they list the cheapest air fares, but when I call the airline or a travel agent they are never available. Isn't this a form of fraud?

A: The number of low-fare seats is usually limited and may involve special requirements such as advance purchase, blackout days, etc. Reputable publications listing them normally warn about possible restrictions. Smart travelers insist that their agents keep digging into the reservations computers to find the best tariff available.

Q. Where is the secret bunker Winston Churchill occupied during World War II and is it open to visitors?

A. The underground room that served Churchill during the London bombing is near 10 Downing St., London, and is a public museum.

Q. During my trip to Italy I hope to buy some paintings. Can I bring them back duty free?

A. There's no U.S. duty on original art. But you must obtain an Italian permit from the official art superintendent in the municipal jurisdiction where you buy the paintings.

Questions are welcome but cannot be answered personally or by telephone. For a list of travel publications available free from government sources, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Eric Friedheim, Travel Agent magazine, 825 7th Ave., New York 10019.

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