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Can Nature Tourism Help Save Our Planet?

May 05, 1991|KIM UPTON

Travel agents promoting nature tours will soon be out of business unless radical steps are taken to stop humanity from destroying the planet, according to Canadian ecologist David Suzuki. Suzuki said that humans, led by the governments of rich countries, are careening toward environmental catastrophe.

"In 30 years there will be no wilderness left to visit except a few little islands we set aside as preserves," he told the annual conference of the Pacific Asia Travel Association on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

British scientific broadcaster James Burke painted a similarly grim picture of the planet's future, but was optimistic that tourism could be used to preserve rather than destroy.

Because of the economic benefit that tourism brings, he said, some countries are beginning to plan their overall development with the environment in mind, insisting, for example, on environmental impact studies.

Tripping In: Where is America headed on vacation this year? Destinations such as Florida and California should fare well this summer, said Phil Johnson of Leo Shapiro & Associates, a Chicago market research firm that surveyed travelers in March.

Travelers also are heading to the Caribbean and Latin America, in part due to fallout from the Gulf War, said Michele Shelburne, president of Ladatco Tours in Miami. Three- and four-day cruises are enjoying immense popularity, helped along by heavy discounting earlier in the year.

That is not to say Americans aren't going to Europe.

"The change seen in the last month has been a resurgence of European travel, stimulated by lower air fares," said Linda Teter, a director of retail sales for American Express Travel Agencies in San Francisco. "The whole intention of that was to kick start people into traveling, and it worked."

Quick Fact: Average cost per-mile to travel on U.S. airlines in 1981: 12.3 cents. Cost in 1989: 12.4 cents (Source: Air Transport Assn.).

Vacationing in Cambodia: Tourism is on the rise in Cambodia. The number of foreign tourists visiting that war-torn country rose to 2,360 in the first three months of 1991, according to the Phnom Penh government's official SPK news agency.

SPK did not give comparative figures for 1990, but said revenue generated by tourism in the first quarter of 1991 achieved 48% of the target for the whole year.

Siem Reap, home of the famed Angkor Wat temples, and the capital itself are the main destinations, the agency said.

Shop Talk: International visitors to the United States spent a total of $52.8 billion in 1990. Who spends most? The top five were:

1) Japan--$7.5 billion.

2) Canada--$5.7 billion.

3) Mexico--$4.5 billion.

4) U.K.--$3.5 billion.

5) Germany--$2.1 billion.

(Source: U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration.)

Something Fishy: Sea World of Florida's newest attraction "Terrors of the Deep," a collection of dangerous sea creatures, is scheduled to open in early June.

It consists of huge aquariums entered through large acrylic tubing that will get visitors within inches of the scariest, and most beautiful, creatures of the deep. Hundreds of moray eels and other predatory fish such as venomous lion fish and stonefish, cute-yet-deadly puffer fish and surgeon fish, whose tail spines are as sharp as a surgeon's scalpel will be almost within reach. At the exhibit's climax, water-tight people movers will take visitors 15 feet below the surface of a 125-foot-long habitat filled with (what else?): sharks.

City Costs: Here is the annual Corporate Travel magazine list of the top 10 U.S. cities ranked by how expensive they are for daily business travel in 1991.

Top 10: 1. New York; 2. Boston; 3. Washington; 4. Chicago; 5. Los Angeles; 6. Santa Barbara; 7. Houston; 8. Newark, N.J.; 9. Philadelphia; 10. Dallas.

P.S. The least expensive city listed is Peoria, Ill.

Fair Warning: San Francisco will host "Mozart & His Time," a festival honoring the bicentennial of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart May 22 through June 30. Sites for events will be peppered around the city and range from the War Memorial Opera House to Davies Symphony Hall to The Asian Art Museum.

For the gala opening, Herbert Blomstedt will conduct the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus in Mozart's Requiem at Davies Symphony Hall. After an intermission on a closed-off section of Grove Street, the audience will proceed into the War Memorial Opera House for a program of arias.

The series of events will include performances of vocal and instrumental music, as well as dance, plays, lectures and films. The Asian Art Museum and the Fine Arts Museums will label their collections to indicate work that was created during Mozart's time. Unusual events will include an equestrian ballet and a fashion show of "Austrian Undergarments of the Late 18th Century."

For a brochure that includes a schedule and ticket information, call (415) 431-5400 or write Mozart Festival Brochure, c/o Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 94102.

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