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NEWS AND BRIEFS

New Bronze Sculpture Is Tribute to Sea Lions

February 02, 1992|KIM UPTON

Remember the sea lions who, two years ago, suddenly took up residence around San Francisco's Pier 39? Local merchants and boat owners were really hot to be rid of them, calling them the "guests from hell" and criticizing their social interactions and personal hygiene. Well, the 600 or so sea lions have become a tourist attraction and are now being honored at Pier 39, the bay-side shopping center near Fisherman's Wharf, with a gleaming bronze sculpture commemorating their arrival. The sculpture depicts a sea lion family and was created in recognition of the marine mammals who floated in January, 1990, in pursuit of plentiful herring and a sheltered environment.

Perhaps it is only to be expected that the sea lions are also the subject of free consciousnessraising programs for tourists, conducted by Marine Mammal Center volunteers, on weekends from noon to 4 p.m.

Travel Quiz: What is the longest nonstop commercial airline flight now in operation?

Korea Confusion: The recent State Department travel warning cautioning U.S. travelers to North Korea that the United States does not maintain diplomatic relations with that country and cannot help, should Americans encounter problems there, has nonetheless prompted some readers to call the (South) Korea National Tourist Corp. to find out how to get visas to North Korea. Although relations are said to be warming between the two countries, the South Koreans have no information on the subject. At the moment, visas for North Korea are only available from Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea embassies in countries--such as Russia and China--that maintain diplomatic relations with it. Direct further questions to: Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Mission to the United Nations, 25 East 86th St., New York 10028.

Quick Fact: Ever wonder why an airline fare quoted for a single route can be different each of the several times you call to get information on the flight? The next time you wonder, consider this: Last year an average of 11,982 schedule changes and 215,396 air-fare changes were processed daily for 724 airlines by Official Airline Guide, the travel information company that maintains the schedules and fares of airlines worldwide. And this stunning number of changes occurred during a year when air travel and the number of airlines both decreased.

Japan and U.S. Tourism: Japan has been contributing heavily to U.S. travel industry receipts. Individual Japanese tourists have outspent Canadian visitors, for example, by an average of 7 to 1, according to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Travel Tourism Administration. While Canada has been supplying the largest numbers of tourists to the United States (17.3 million in 1990, compared to Japan's 3.2 million), visitors from Japan have spent far more--$7.4 billion versus Canada's $5.7 billion, an average of $2,350.69 per person, versus $330.21.

Ships in Shape: If the month of January is any indication, the cruise business appears to be booming beyond anyone's expectations, according to Jim Godsman, president of Cruise Lines International Assn., a trade association that represents 35 cruise lines. Carnival Cruise Lines was one of the winners the first full week of January, the traditional time for cruise bookings for the year. During two days, Jan. 6-7, Carnival reports booking a record 25,000 passengers and ending the week of Jan. 6-12 with 65,000 passengers booked, the company's most ever in a single week. The days of Jan. 6-8 represented the three busiest days in the company's history, according to a company spokeswoman. And Carnival wasn't the only company reporting substantially increased bookings. According to figures supplied by the individual cruise lines, Celebrity Cruises, Fantasy Cruises, Holland America and Royal Caribbean all had three record weeks in a row--Jan. 6-10, 13-17 and 20-24. Further, during the week of Jan. 6-10, Crystal Cruises had its best sales week ever, booking $4 million in trips.

Godsman and others attribute the rush to vacation fever fueled by last year's canceled for abbreviated travel plans. "Americans believe they have an inalienable right to a vacation. I think there was a tremendous amount of pent-up demand and that the feeling is that the time has come to reward ourselves," Godsman said.

Comparatively Speaking: The staff of Consumer Reports Travel Letter has just released good and poor value forecasts for 1992: overall U.S. airline, Midwest Express (the tiny airline with coach seating like first-class); mid-size U.S. airline, Alaska; low-fare U.S. airline, Southwest; international airline, Virgin Atlantic; charter airline, Martinair. Worsts: buying full-fare coach/economy tickets on an airline; paying major hotel rack rates in a big city; buying overpriced vouchers for overseas hotels; purchasing anything at an airport; spending money on travel insurance by-the-trip (the exception is supplementary automobile liability insurance for those who don't own their own car).

Fair Warning: Fishing lovers will gather at Clear Lake, Calif., next weekend, Feb. 8-9, for one of the largest team bass fishing tournaments in the western United States. Cash prizes will be awarded to the teams that bring in the most fish, which, after weighing, are returned to the lake. For more information about the Record-Bee Bruno's Team Bass Tournament, call the Greater Lakeport Chamber of Commerce at (707) 263-5092.

Quiz Answer: At 14 hours and 45 minutes, the 7,500-mile Los Angeles to Sydney flight on Qantas and United is longest.

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