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1.8 Million in U.S. Alter Plans to Visit Abroad

Times Staff Writer

Concerned about international terrorism, an estimated 1.8 million Americans are dropping or changing plans to travel abroad, according to a study released Wednesday.

As a result, travel throughout California and the rest of the United States is expected to reach record levels, according to the U.S. Travel Data Center, a nonprofit Washington group that studies American vacation and other travel activities.

Douglas C. Frechtling, the center’s director, said surveys have shown that both the rising incidence of overseas terrorism and the declining value of the dollar are having a negative effect on foreign trips.

“All signs point to record domestic tourism levels this summer,” said Frechtling, who added that vacation spending is expected to rise 5%, to a record $100 billion. U.S. summer vacation trips will climb to a new high of 288 million of 100 miles or more, he said.

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South to Improve Most

The South is expected to have the largest growth in tourism, with a 7% increase to 77 million vacation trips, according to the study. The Western states will experience a 6% rise to 66 million vacation trips.

The Greater Los Angeles Visitors and Convention Bureau had originally predicted a 2% to 3% increase from last year’s total of 46 million visitors to the Los Angeles area. “Some people are now estimating it will rise 16%,” according to Rick Kenyon, travel development coordinator at the bureau.

In the first three months of this year, he said, visitor mail inquiries were up 24.5% from the last year. Kenyon added that California, Alaska and Hawaii are the states west of the Rocky Mountains that are expected to reap most of the tourist business.

Cardillo Travel Systems of Culver City, which operates 90 agencies nationwide, reports that domestic bookings have started to increase. But a spokesman said, “There is still a lot of wait-and-see attitude worldwide.”

San Diego Boost Likely

In San Diego, where tourism is the county’s third-largest industry, officials of the Convention and Visitors Bureau don’t believe that cancellations of European vacations will increase the number of visitors there.

“It would be erroneous to assume that there’s going to be some big influx of domestic travelers,” according to Al Reese, the convention bureau’s spokesman. On the contrary, officials are worried that Expo ’86 in Vancouver may take some summer tourists who would otherwise be San Diego-bound.

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In response, the convention bureau next week will launch a $400,000 television, radio and billboard campaign touting San Diego’s charms and aimed at the Los Angeles and Arizona “drive market,” which accounts for about 35% of San Diego’s 9 million summer visitors, according to Terry Cahill, the bureau’s vice president for marketing.

Times staff writers Bill Ritter and Armando Acuna contributed to this article from San Diego.


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