Need to Know: U.S. tourism from abroad is up

U.S. tourism from abroad is up

About 3.4 million international visitors traveled to the United States in January, an increase of 10% over January 2009, the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries reported. It marks the fourth straight month of increases in U.S. arrivals. While here, those foreign visitors spent $10.3 billion in January, slightly down over the year before. January also marks the 15th consecutive month in which U.S. travel and tourism-related exports were lower than when compared with the same period of the previous year. The agency also reported:

• Mexican visitation totaled 416,000, up 3% for the month.

• Canadian visitation totaled 1.3 million, up 13%.

• Visitation from Asia increased 12%.

• Visits from Central America increased 7%.

—Chris Erskine

Wet no more

By design, theme park water rides leave you soaking wet: clothes clinging, shoes squishing, body shivering. Personally, I never ride them. To tell you the truth, I hate them. If I want to get wet, I’ll go to a water park. But I’ve seen the future, and it’s warm and dry. Walk-in full body dryers have been popular in Europe for more than a decade and will start arriving at Southern California theme parks in 2010. The dryers, which hold up to five people, cost $5 for a four-minute cycle. Your average soaking-wet theme park visitor wearing shorts and a T-shirt will emerge 95% dry, said Wayne Jacks of Haystack Dryers. Those wearing dripping-wet blue jeans will feel considerably drier and warmer after a session under the heat lamps and hot-air blowers, he said. “In Europe, people are much less shy,” Jacks said. “They will take off almost all of their clothes, put them in the dryer and then get in themselves.”

—Brady MacDonald

Ski into summer

Say gracias to El Niño for providing so much snow this season that most California ski resorts will stay open longer than usual. Mammoth Mountain will be open through July 4 (closing day was June 14 last year). On April 18, Canyon Lodge and the Eagle base area will close, but Main Lodge will remain open. This marks the 11th time in 31 years that Mammoth Mountain will be open till the Fourth of July. The resort’s current base depth is 11 feet to 15 feet, and its high alpine bowls offer great spring riding. Skiers and boarders looking for easy access to the eastern Sierra resort can use daily service from LAX to Mammoth airport. Horizon Air fares start at $69 each way. For information on air service and snow conditions, call (800) 626-6684 or go to

—Julie Sheer

Driven to organize

Here’s a well-designed, hanging front-seat organizer that easily swings behind the seat when you have a front-seat passenger or want to use it for a back-seat passenger. The Over the Seat Driver Organizer in XL size has eight roomy pockets, including a top pouch large enough for business files, five slots for maps, cell phone, snacks, cash, CDs, pens and whatever, and two mesh side pockets large enough for a water bottle or small items you want to keep in sight. Made of heavy pack cloth reinforced with fiber board, the organizer attaches to — and swings behind —the headrest poles by way of an adjustable clip buckle. Over the Seat Driver Organizer in XL size (088838009109) is $17.99. Info: (800) 210-7712,

—Judi Dash