Jeff Miner feels relieved in not having to leave the United States
the next time he travels.
The Sherman Oaks resident, who frequently flies in and out of the
Burbank- Glendale-Pasadena Airport, plans to exchange wedding vows
with his fiancee and honeymoon on the East Coast this summer.
“I didn’t have any plans, but I certainly wouldn’t make any for
the next six months or so until I see what happens,” he said,
referring to the outcome of the war. “And it’s not just Iraq, but
with [the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks], it doesn’t seem like people
are too welcoming of Americans in various spots around the world.”
Long-distance journey deterrents, such as the fear of terrorism
and a sagging economy, are still pummeling the travel industry,
Aladdin Travel owner Jan Ramsey said. On top of that are public
anxieties about the war in Iraq and the mysterious new disease,
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, she said.
“I think a lot of people are at home watching the news and waiting
to see how [the war] ends,” Ramsey said.
The industry is down 17% nationally for the first three months of
2003 when compared to a year ago, said Rhonda Holguin, the general
manager of Horizon Travel’s umbrella company, Montrose Travel.
Holguin has noticed the increase in vacationers who share Miner’s
mind-set -- they opt to hunt for deals closer to home while canceling
overseas trips to Europe and Asia.
With prices at their lowest in two years and the number of
agencies dwindling from 37,000 to 23,000 in the same duration -- and
more expected to close -- Holguin encourages would-be travelers to
take advantage of the great deals.
For example, a 13-day cruise along the East Coast is as low as
$549 per person. Before the terrorist attacks, she said it would have
cost about $1,300.
Thinking optimistically, Ramsey and Holguin are expecting a
rebound after the war ends. Both noted a quick dip after the war
began, followed by a slight surge in “shopping calls,” an increase in
customers calling to inquire about rates.
Ramada Inn general manager Mark Wilson has also seen a recent
increase in reservations.
“It looks like the war is coming to a close sooner than
anticipated,” he said. “And once that happens, people will start
With about 10% of the hotel’s business lost to war anxiety and
inflated gas prices, he said the hotel has faired the industry’s
slump better than others due to its affordable nightly rate of $76
and high visibility from the Golden State (5) Freeway.
“We haven’t been hit as hard as some of the more expensive hotels
because people are more value conscious these days,” he said.