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Passengers Can Ride Korea’s ‘Turtle Ship’

<i> Compiled from Times staff and wire service reports</i>

An unusual, iron-clad warship invented 400 years ago by Korean admiral Yi Sun-shin has inspired a new tourist excursion and a small museum in Seoul.

A replica of the admiral’s famous “turtle ship"--which was armored like the reptile and was used in a successful naval engagement against Japan in the 1590s--now carries passengers on a 2.4-mile, 50-minute trip on Seoul’s Han-gang River.

The vessel leaves from the Kobukson Pier at Ich’on-dong, where a small exhibit displays some of the admiral’s possessions, including his diary, and a film is shown detailing the naval hero’s life.

Travel Quiz: What do Bishop, Calif., and Provincetown, Mass., have in common? (Answer below.)

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Let the Traveler Beware: New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs last fall decided to find out if travel agents really give customers the lowest fare when they ask for it.

It turns out the answer depends on which travel agent the customer contacts.

According to Consumer Reports Travel Letter, staff members from the department called 49 travel agencies in New York and asked for the lowest round-trip air fare from New York to several domestic and international destinations, in each case specifying the exact same conditions and terms.

As the accompanying chart shows, the quotes given by travel agents varied by as much as 53% for the same trip.

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The disparity, according to the Department of Consumer Affairs report, is due to the fact that “some travel agents are lazy, negligent or poorly trained.” In addition, many agents rely on the first information that pops up on the computer screen, without researching fares further, the report stated.

Destination High Quote Low Quote Bahamas $349 $239 Berlin 1,029 649 Charlotte 280 218 Los Angeles 478 358 London 898 416 New Orleans 400 198 Rome 1,290 685 Tokyo 1,520 1,023 Vancouver 600 486

Quick Fact: About 50,000 U.S. passports are reported lost or stolen every year.

A Fresno First: Hoping to make travel a little easier for Japanese visitors to the area, the Fresno City and County Convention and Visitors Bureau has produced a free map printed in Japanese.

An estimated 3 million Japanese tourists visited the United States in 1990, with California being their number-one destination, according to Yamamoto Communications of New York, which helped produce the four-page map and brochure.

The map, which highlights area attractions, national parks, special events and area hotels, will be distributed to international travel agencies and local hotels and will also be available at the visitors bureau.

Scandinavian Plans: Hilton International has signed an agreement with the Christiania Bank of Norway to build a 235-room hotel at the world trade center in central Oslo.

It will be the chain’s first hotel in Scandinavia, although plans are being discussed for the development of a 450-room hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark, as well as others in Stockholm and Helsinki.

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Slow Fact: The average ski chairlift travels 450 to 500 feet per minute, or about 5 m.p.h.

Dining Out: A Runzheimer International survey of 2,571 business travelers showed that while 47.2% of them were content to eat their breakfast at their hotel restaurant, only 18.9% would eat their dinner there. Instead, 66.2% prefered to enjoy their evening meal at a full-service restaurant outside the hotel.

Quick Fact: It would take 20 Niagara Falls stacked one atop the other to surpass the height of Angel Falls in Venezuela.

Niagara is 167 feet high, Angel Falls, the world’s highest, tops out at 3,281 feet.

New Twist on Pay As You Go: Leaders of Florida’s tourism industry want the state to spend more to promote Florida as a travel destination under a plan that calls for tourists to pick up the tab.

The Florida Tourism Assn. said the industry in general would support higher visitor fees on such things as lodging, car rentals and cruise tickets in order to pay for more promotion in coming years.

The trade group said a survey of state tourism leaders also showed virtually unanimous support for an immediate boost in promotional efforts to offset a slowdown in tourism caused by the Middle East crisis and higher fuel costs.

John E. Evans, the association president, said that eight years ago Florida ranked first in promotional spending but has since slipped to 10th place among the 50 states. The state currently spends less than $12 million a year to promote tourism, the association said.

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Quiz Answer: They lie at either end of the longest west-east highway in the United States, all 3,178 miles of U.S. Route 6.


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