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August 06, 1989|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 30-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks

The Senior Travel and Recreation Activities Council (STRAC), the major organization serving senior groups and clubs in California and Arizona, has a two-fold membership drive this month.

STRAC is looking first for more travel suppliers--travel and tour companies, hotels, resorts, attractions and other vendors interested in tapping the senior travel market in Southern California, primarily in group tours.

Group travel for seniors in this area can be anything from the hundreds of day excursions and tours offered almost every week by the several thousand senior organizations and clubs to extended tours and cruises to such destinations as Hawaii, Mexico, Canada and Europe.

While STRAC vendor members work primarily with group tours, many vendors profit from additional benefits, both from repeat individual senior travelers and exposure to senior travel clubs and groups that relay the vendors' travel information among its members.

Free Membership

In the other portion of its membership drive, STRAC is seeking newly formed senior organizations and clubs interested in travel programs and tours. Membership is free, but it is limited to the tour planners or travel coordinators of such organizations.

Such senior tour planners can attend the free trade shows hosted by STRAC vendors. These shows include lunch, free tour planning guide and loads of free assistance in all phases of tour planning from STRAC's travel suppliers.

Travel industry members interested in membership or more information are requested to call Alice Ward, STRAC's administrative director, at (213) 370-5094. The next STRAC general meeting is 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday at the Anaheim At the Park Travelodge.

Tour planners or coordinators of senior organizations or clubs not already members of STRAC wishing more information should write to Alice Ward, Director, STRAC, P.O. Box 1558, Torrance 90505. Membership will be processed in time for the fall trade show on Sept. 19 at Knott's Berry Farm.

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Tour Masters Inc., which has joined the National Tour Assn. to provide more insurance protection for its tour members, still manages to be a price leader in the mature tour market.

The company's 15-day fall foliage tour, leaving Oct. 3, covers a lot of territory for $1,489 per person, double occupancy, including air fare. Following a flight from Los Angeles to New York City, the tour goes by motor coach through New England up to Quebec City, Canada, down the St. Lawrence River to Montreal, then on to Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto and Niagara Falls.

Then it's across New York and Pennsylvania to the Pennsylvania Dutch country, followed by the flight back.

Owner George Demas does not skimp on transportation or sightseeing, provides good, albeit not deluxe, accommodations and keeps his tour prices low by not including meals.

For more information: Tour Masters Inc., 1054 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 303, Los Angeles 90017, (213) 482-1150.

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September is a special month for seniors 60 and over at Universal Studios, where the admission price is $9.50. That's better than the tour's normal $13.50 after the senior discount.

To get the special September-only rate, seniors must have a September Senior Citizen Discount Coupon. These can be obtained free by calling (818) 777-3771.

Senior group leaders can get them for all tour members and also arrange for tour groups of 40 or more seniors to be pre-boarded onto tour trams, without waiting in line.

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Mature travelers with high-risk medical conditions may require an additional injection of influenza vaccine for certain summer travel, according to the U.S. Health Service.

By summer, protection from the previous fall/winter vaccine (assuming you got one) may have worn off. And if you're headed for the tropics, influenza is present all year; the peak season is through September.

The incubation period of influenza is only a few days. Therefore, travelers exposed to the virus will often become ill during travel, an inconvenience or potential danger easily avoided by a pre-tour booster shot.

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Marlene Gordon of the Next Stage invites mature travelers to enjoy a shower with her this Saturday--the shower being the Perseids, the largest annual meteor shower of the year. Depending on the clouds, it's possible to see up to 50 meteors an hour at this time.

Gordon's "Star Party" is an overnight van tour to the Lockwood Valley Observatory in Las Padres National Forest in Ventura County.

In addition to the meteor shower, tour members will be able (again, weather permitting) to view not only the moon, but Saturn, Venus and possibly Uranus and Neptune, plus nebulae and other wonders through telescopes provided by the Los Angeles Astronomic Society.

The overnight trip, which includes van transportation, dinner and breakfast, also includes sleeping out under the stars on the observatory grounds. Price is $75. For more information, call the Next Stage at (213) 939-2688.

Gordon also has two evening trips--Aug. 22 and 26--to the Laguna Arts Festival and reserved seats for the Pageant of the Masters, one of the favorite senior outings of the year.

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