Travel Briefs

WASHINGTON

Guide to Inauguration Day offered online

More than 2 million people are expected to converge on Washington for the presidential inauguration, and Cultural Tourism DC offers a guide to attractions and cultural events at www. CulturalTourismDC.org. Click on the link for information related to the inauguration.

The Web site includes tips on how to get around the city, the location of Jumbotrons on the big day, and details on events ranging from the debut of a wax figure of Barack Obama at Madame Tussauds Washington DC to balls, museum exhibits, concerts and book signings.

NEW YORK

Magazine lists top 10 budget destinations

Undiscovered places, important events and tumbling foreign currencies helped define Budget Travel Magazine’s list of the top 10 budget destinations for 2009.

Austin, Texas, made the list as a venue for affordable and free cultural events like the annual South By Southwest festival. Washington was included because of the inauguration, but also because so many of the museums and monuments are free to visit. The magazine also lauded Hawaii because a drop in visitors last year has led to discounts this year.

Abroad, Budget Travel recommends Mexico, Hungary and Iceland as places where the dollar goes farther than it used to.

Destinations getting ready for big events include Berlin, which marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall this year, and Vancouver, which will host the Winter Olympics in 2010.

Finally, the magazine’s list includes Cambodia for its affordable guesthouses and must-see temples, and Panama, for its eco-tourism and wildlife.

Details at www.budgettravel.com.

SAVANNAH, Ga.

Tickets on sale for music festival

Tickets are on sale for the Savannah Music Festival, which will feature an opening night concert March 18 by Bonnie Raitt.

Tickets can be purchased via www.savannahmusicfestival.org or (912) 525-5050. Prices range from $35-75.

Nearly 100 performances of jazz, classical, blues, bluegrass, gospel and other genres will be staged throughout Savannah’s historic district.

In addition to Raitt, headliners include Neko Case, Dianne Reeves, Bela Fleck’s Africa Project, Chick Corea and John McLaughlin’s Five Peace Band. Other performers range from blues singer Corey Harris, in a show called “The Blues Was Born Here,” to old-time multi-instrumentalist Dan Gellert accompanying his daughter Rayna. The festival closes April 5 with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

LOS ANGELES

New marketing slogan for city is just so LA

Los Angeles has unveiled a new marketing campaign built around the slogan “That’s So LA” to keep tourists coming despite the nation’s economic turndown.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of our economy,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told a press conference in Hollywood. “We can’t afford to let the benefits of the industry stop flowing to the heart of the city.”

The campaign will feature ads spotlighting unique sites in the city, its major attractions and images of celebrities including Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, basketball stars Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and Baron Davis of the Clippers, soccer star David Beckham and Lauren Conrad of MTV’s “The Hills.”

City officials say tourism is the second-largest industry in Los Angeles and supports more than a quarter-million jobs. In the past year, tourism brought in $14.2 billion and 26 million visitors, according to the mayor’s office.

PHILADELPHIA

Philadelphia hosting eight museum shows

Philadelphia is hosting a series of major museum shows this year, showcasing works ranging from the Impressionist art of Paul Cezanne to the drawings of beloved children’s author Maurice Sendak.

“Galileo, The Medici and The Age of Astronomy” will be held at The Franklin Institute Science Museum, April 4-Sept. 7, and “Cezanne and Beyond” is at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Feb. 26-May 17. Philadelphia will be the sole venue for both shows.

The city also hosts the world debut of Tavis Smiley’s “America I AM: The African American Imprint” at the National Constitution Center, Jan. 15-May 3, celebrating African and African-American contributions across nearly 500 years of American history. The show, conceived by talk-show host and author Smiley, features more than 150 artifacts, including the typewriter Alex Haley used to write “Roots,” Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves and the doors from a dungeon off the coast of Ghana where captive Africans were detained.

If you’re a fan of “Where the Wild Things Are” or other Sendak books, you’ll want to catch “There’s a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak” at the Rosenbach Museum & Library, which includes more than 130 pieces from the museum’s Sendak collection, the largest in the world. That show runs through May 3.

Next fall, families will enjoy “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” at the James A. Michener Art Museum, Sept. 12-Nov. 29.

“Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Work” debuts at Philly’s Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site on Jan. 17. This year marks the bicentennial of Poe’s birth.

For visitors interested in science, “Surviving: The Body of Evidence” at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is up through May 3 and honors Charles Darwin by looking at how evolution impacts daily lives.

A show late this fall at The Academy of Natural Sciences explores the life and work of the visionary and educator George Washington Carver, Nov. 12-Feb. 28.

Philadelphia is also offering an overnight hotel package. The two-night offer is available any night of the week at more than 30 hotels throughout the region. The package includes free hotel parking (up to a $75 value), a new Philadelphia Privileges coupon book and a teddy bear. The package is bookable online at www.gophila.com/love.

WASHINGTON

Group looking to honor preservationists

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is looking to recognize people and projects in the field of historic preservation.

Individuals who have been involved in a major preservation project completed in the past three years, or those who know of an individual, organization, agency or business that has helped save or preserve a place, landmark or other piece of American heritage, are encouraged to submit a nomination.

The National Preservation Awards are given annually. Winners in the past have ranged from craftsmen to volunteers to public officials and educators.

Nominations for all awards must be postmarked by March 2.

Download the nomination form at www. preservationnation.org/take-action/awards/.

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va.

New West Virginia travel guide available

Appalachian crafts, whitewater rafting, Civil War re-enactments and much more are included in the 2009 official West Virginia travel guide.

The guide lists accommodations, campgrounds, restaurants, parks, shops, galleries and museums and a calendar of fairs, festivals, performances and historical re-enactments.

To request a free copy of the new guide, contact the Division of Tourism at (800) 225-5982 or visit its Web site, www.wvtourism.com.

An online version of the entire travel guide will be posted by Wednesday.

——

Greenbrier plans to lay off half its employees; resort cites poor economy

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The Greenbrier resort said it is furloughing nearly half its 1,350 employees as it struggles to fill its 720 rooms in a poor economy.

Only about 100 of the White Sulphur Springs landmark’s rooms are occupied presently, spokeswoman Lynn Swann said. The 650 workers who will lose their jobs could be rehired if business improves this spring, she said.

The furloughs come after resort owner CSX Corp. announced it had hired Goldman, Sachs & Co. to determine what to do with the luxury resort, which has entertained kings and presidents and housed a once-secret bomb shelter intended for Congress.

The resort lost $35 million last year due to cancellations and a nearly yearlong labor dispute. While Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX would not elaborate, hiring an investment banking firm typically signals a potential sale.

Winter furloughs are not unusual for The Greenbrier and most of the employees should be rehired this spring, union leader Peter Bostic said.

“This company has historically laid off 400 to 500 people every winter for 30 or 40 years,” Bostic said. “Just because that number’s going up by 20 percent or so, I don’t see that as any reason to panic.”

The Greenbrier has been in negotiations with nine unions for more than 14 months, the talks bogging down on issues including health insurance and the benefits enjoyed by part-time workers.

After the union authorized a strike in an April vote, the resort said cancellations and a fall-off in business ensued.

Frustrated by the lack of progress in negotiations, the union promoted a referendum that would allow casino-style gambling at the resort in a bid to bring in new revenue and increase attendance.

Voters narrowly approved the measure in November, but the resort has made no public effort to implement gambling so far, though it has hired a consulting firm to study the potential.

——

Free beer samples at Anheuser-Busch theme parks run dry: Brewer to build more family venues

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — There are no free lunches in life, but one could always count on free beer at Anheuser-Busch theme parks. Until now.

The brewer has stopped giving free samples in hospitality centers at its SeaWorld theme parks in Orlando, San Antonio and San Diego and its Busch Gardens parks in Tampa and Williamsburg, Va.

Anheuser-Busch Adventure Parks spokesman Fred Jacobs says the free samples had a narrow appeal among park customers.

The brewer plans to build more restaurants and other venues geared toward families with children. Customers can still buy beer at some of the parks’ existing venues.

The American brewer was bought last year by InBev to form the world’s largest brewer: Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev SA.

——

New US travel rules to begin for those who don’t need visa

LONDON (AP) — U.S. officials say people from countries that do not need visas to enter the United States must begin registering under a new travel authorization program before making their journey.

Travelers from the 35 countries are asked to obtain an authorization from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at least 72 hours before their flight departs to the U.S.

The program has been voluntary since August but is now mandatory.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Dick Custin in Britain said that approval has been granted in nearly all of the cases involving voluntary participants.

The online application form asks tourists to say if they are drug users and divulge certain criminals convictions or past terror activities.

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