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Getting America Back on the Traveling Track

(November 2001)

The U.S. tourism industry is projected to lose $33 billion and more than 527,000 tourism jobs this year because of the tourism slowdown after September 11. To help combat the situation, President Bush is appearing in 30-second television ads encouraging viewers to travel to and within the U.S. The ad campaign organized by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) will start in the U.S. and will be aired later on Canadian, Japanese, U.K., and other European TV stations. Television spots aside, many travel providers are enticing people with hard-to-refuse promotions.

Offers You Can't Refuse

To spur travel again, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, tour operators, and other travel suppliers have produced a bevy of promotions and deals.

For example, Apple Vacations has a seven-night package with airfare for the all-inclusive resort Bahia Principe on Mexico's Riviera Maya for $598 per person (based on double occupancy until December 15). Last year, this same package was $828. Amtrak is running fares as low as four dollars in some markets. The Puerto Rico Tourism Bureau is offering free airfare if you book a five-night package to the island.

Spur of the moment travel can yield big savings. Recently, my family and I journeyed at the last minute to Niagara Falls and Washington D.C. Rates for hotels, tours, and meals were very inexpensive—under $200 for a family of four for two days. Clearly, offers I couldn't refuse.

Tax Breaks

Good deals may not be enough to get people in the traveling mood. Congressional leaders are looking to give the travel and tourism industry an additional boost with proposed tax breaks for individuals.

In October, several lawmakers introduced a bill to encourage Americans to resume travel. The Travel America Now Act (S.1500/H.R. 3041), which has yet to be passed, would give people a tax credit for personal travel for trips more than 100 miles from home. The credit would be for up to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for couples. All travel expenses could be used toward the credit, including plane, bus, and train tickets; gasoline; hotel; restaurant; entertainment expenses; travel agency and tour fees; and all applicable taxes.

Travel is a Key to Peace

Like many of you, the tragic events of September 11 have caused me to ask myself some tough questions regarding the role of travel in our lives. But I truly believe travel is one of the keys to finding some peace, and now more than ever is the time to travel. We could certainly use a break, and the incentives aren't bad either.

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