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Protesters Can't Stop Kyoto Hotel Building

February 23, 1992|KIM UPTON

Despite heated opposition to a new 200-foot-tall hotel in Japan's historic city of Kyoto, it looks as if the project will go forward as planned, according to a spokeswoman for the Japan National Tourist Organization. Opponents of the construction of the Kyoto Hotel--which began in November, was stopped for a few weeks by public pressure and then began again--are concerned that high-rise buildings will ruin the ambience of the temple-filled city, and object to the building of anything taller than 148 feet, the maximum height allowed until zoning laws were changed in 1988.

Led by the powerful Kyoto Buddhist Assn., a coalition of citizens' groups has announced that it will urge a boycott of products made by Nichirei Corp., a major shareholder of the 16-story hotel. And the Buddhist Assn. (which represents 1,000 of the city's 1,600 temples) has threatened to refuse guests at the Kyoto Hotel admission to some of the temples if the hotel is completed. This is a powerful threat since the city's religious splendors are what draw most of its 40 million annual visitors and make tourism Kyoto's main source of income. Hotel company officials argue that the city lacks a large, first-class hotel and is increasingly becoming a day trip out of nearby Osaka, Japan's second-largest city.

Travel Quiz: When it is noon in Los Angeles, what time is it in Sydney, Australia?

Direct to Moscow: Aeroflot, the official airline of Russia, will begin flying between San Francisco and Moscow May 17, the first direct service ever between the West Coast and Moscow and also the shortest connection between the two cities. Flights will leave San Francisco weekly at 10:55 a.m. on Sundays, with a connection but no change of planes in Anchorage, arriving in Moscow at 1:20 p.m. the next day. The 16-hour flight is 1,000 miles and several hours shorter than the route through New York, which does require a change of planes. Inauguration of the San Francisco-Moscow route will be marked with a discounted advance-purchase, round-trip fare of about $1,250, which will be offered through October. The existing Aeroflot advance-purchase transatlantic rate between San Francisco and Moscow via New York is $2,396. For more information, contact Aeroflot at (800) 535-9877 or Sino-Soviet Expeditions at (415) 781-ASIA.

Quick Fact: Amount that the travel and tourism industry contributed to the California economy in 1990: nearly $53 billion. (Source: California Department of Commerce, Office of Tourism.)

Paris Crime Report: The number of violent crimes committed last year in Paris fell by comparison to 1990, but a rise in white-collar crime caused the overall city crime rate to increase, according to a recent Police Prefecture report, which details crime by violation and by Paris neighborhood. But good news for travelers: Homicides fell by 7.8%, theft dropped by 6.5% and thefts involving violence and armed robbery fell by 5.9% and 7.1%, respectively, although credit-card theft and use rose. In the Metro subway system, crime fell by 7%, the report said.

Now There's a Museum for Everything: For two days, at least, visitors to Seattle can visit the very first SPAM Carving Museum, which has been created to house the best of the annual SPAM Carving Contest and other SPAM creations. Since the winners will be at best, perishable, the museum, which will house an estimated 20 entries, will be open only from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. next Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 29 and March 1, at 124 S. Washington--and the exhibit room will not be heated. Past winners have included works entitled "SPAMhenge" and "Venus de SPAM-O," as well as a stained SPAM window.

What's Up: From December, 1990, to December, 1991, the cost for lodging away from home in the United States rose 8.5%, the cost for food and beverages away from home rose 3.1% and the cost for entertainment rose 4.8%. Yet the overall cost for travel in the United States only rose 0.8% during the year due to a variety of factors, including an overall decrease in airline fares (-6.1%) and motor fuel (-16%), according to the U.S. Travel Data Center.

Algeria Caution: The State Department is advising U.S. citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to Algeria and has suspended operations of our consulate in the northern seaport city of Oran. Rising tension and a large number of incidents of politically inspired violence have culminated in cancellation of scheduled legislative elections and many arrests. U.S. citizens in Algeria are advised to avoid all public gatherings and demonstrations because they are thought to have the potential for unexpected violence.

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