Because American travelers fear terrorism overseas, more of them are shunning Europe and making plans to visit Alaska instead, according to state tourist officials.
"People have made up their minds. They can't go to Europe and they can't go to the Mideast, so they're coming to Alaska," said George Foster, traffic manager for the Alaska Marine Highway System.
Telephone inquiries and reservations to the state-run ferry system, which runs tours of southeastern Alaska's Inside Passage as well as routes in other coastal regions, have jumped at least 15% since the war began, Foster said.
Prior to the rise in Middle East tensions, state officials were predicting a drop in this summer's tourism because of the recession. Now, however, because of travelers' desire to stay in America, a weak dollar and new cruise ship runs, Alaska's visitor total might set a record high this season, said Dana Brockway, director of the Alaska Division of Tourism.
Three major cruise companies will add 27 Alaska cruises to the state's total this summer, Brockway said. "The potential is there for an increase of 15,000 visitors."
Travel Quiz: Which is the largest city in the world bearing the name of a famous explorer who will be in the news more than ever next year?
Desert Storm: In Dayton, Ohio, the Gulf War has caused no drop in attendance at the area's biggest attraction, the U.S. Air Force Museum on the nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
"The gift shop has been selling Desert Storm T-shirts, and they're doing quite well," said spokesman Nick Apple.
New Seoul Connection: Korea's Asiana Airlines has applied to the Department of Transportation for routes to the United States, beginning with proposed Seoul-Los Angeles service starting in December.
The Seoul-based airline, which began domestic service in Korea in December, 1988, already has expanded its scope to include Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand.
Quick Fact: English is the official language in 63 countries, French in 40 and Spanish in 21.
Upwardly Immobile: Which is the most difficult mountain in the world to climb? No, it's not Mt. Everest or K-2 or any other Himalayan peak. From a strictly bureaucratic standpoint, the most difficult is Mt. Ararat in Turkey.
The reason? Mt. Ararat lies in the center of a Kurdish stronghold dotted with military installations, perched at the spot where the Soviet Union, Iran and Turkey meet. In addition, it's not too far from Iraq. Permission to scale the mountain requires no fewer than 72 official Turkish signatures.
A mountain of paperwork, in fact.
So Now You Know: According to Consumer Reports Travel Letter, "the only travel for which luxury luggage is appropriate is an ego trip."
A Change of Pace: The arrivals area at Rome's Fiumicino Airport now boasts automatic foreign exchange machines that can convert U.S. dollars, German marks, English pounds and Swiss francs to Italian lire.
Simply feed a $20 bill into the machine and receive the equivalent in Italian bills and coins. The machines are in operation 24 hours a day and the exchange rate is only slightly less than the airport bank offers.
Quick Fact: The Soviet Union has 11 time zones.
Double Without Trouble: U.S. citizens visiting Vietnam, Cambodia and North Korea can now spend up to $200 per day there on hotels, meals and other travel-related expenses under new regulations issued by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. The previous limit was $100 per day.
Guatemala Calls: The Department of Transportation has given approval to a new Guatemalan airline, Aeroquetzal, to begin U.S. service between Los Angeles and Guatemala City this month.
Unravel Mctravel: There are four times as many travel agencies in the United States as McDonald's restaurants. In all, more than 32,000.
On the Rebound, Maybe: China's tourism earnings in badly needed foreign currency rebounded last year to more than $2 billion, nearly matching the level before the 1989 Beijing massacre led to a severe decline in travel to China.
Tourism revenues totaled $2.22 billion in 1990, 97.8% of the 1988 level of $2.3 billion and up 19.2% over 1989 earnings.
Western industry analysts, however, point out that tourist arrivals in 1990 totaled 27.46 million, up only 12.1% over 1989 and just 86.6% of the 1988 total. China, they say, includes many repeat business travelers in its tourism figures, which also are swelled by a large number of repeat arrivals by Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and overseas Chinese. There were 1.74 million foreign tourist arrivals last year, up 19.6% over 1989.
Nearly 19 months after the crackdown on pro-democarcy demonstrators, however, the Chinese travel industry has yet to recover fully from its impact. Travel by Westerners remains at lower levels than before June, 1989.
Several newly opened first-class hotels in Beijing have been virtually empty in recent months, and many existing hotels have operated at occupancy levels of only 20% to 30%.
Quiz Answer: Columbus, Ohio. Next year marks the 500th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the New World.