Airlines continue to see poor fiscal numbers and lower passenger loads but other sectors of the travel industry are profiting.
Many local and regional tourist attractions continue to show good numbers because some people still are afraid to fly and are rediscovering attractions in their own part of the country.
Small bed-and-breakfast inns are reporting strong weekend business and as the weather warms many regional attractions -- such as Branson, Mo., My Old Kentucky home in Bardstown, Santa Fe's sights and sounds, and many small theme parks -- likely will do better business than this time last year.
Additionally, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reports more Canadian tourists are discovering their own country now that it's too expensive for many to visit the United States. Americans within driving distance of Canada also find the U.S. dollar stretches there.
Some parts of Canada -- particularly the French-speaking province of Quebec and parts of the Maritimes -- are as exotic as parts of Europe.
NEW ORLEANS GREAT IN THE SPRING
Mardi Gras may be over but the humidity of summer has yet to hit New Orleans and this is a great time to visit.
Folks at the Raddison Hotels tout a great downtown New Orleans property, just five blocks north of the French Quarter and proximate to the Superdome.
Raddison is featuring a full range of rates, from the $60 to executive suites in the $660 price range.
The great thing about New Orleans this time of year is the coming of springtime to the South. As exciting as the city is -- and anyone who visits the Crescent City should spend as much time soaking up the nightlife and food as possible -- the surrounding countryside is magnificent.
Take time to drive up the Great River Road toward Baton Rouge for a full view of some splendid mansions. The suspension bridge at Lulling is a thrill to behold and another awaits driving across the Huey Long Bridge. It's a huge railroad bridge with highway lanes clinging to the side of the structure.
For more check out neworleanscvb.com on the Internet.
TAKING THE NATIONAL BOOK TOUR
Authors do book tours but tourists can do bookstore tours. Many cities are famous for their bookstores -- and some are tourist attractions in themselves.
The Tattered Cover Bookstore in the old warehouse district of Denver, off the beaten track, is a haven for book lovers, especially people looking for rare books. The store is so big the owners opened a second location in the Denver suburbs. Like many big-city bookstores, the Tattered Cover often hosts well-known authors and has a slew of special programs for children.
Another great bookstore in Portland, Ore., is Powell's City of Books. Dollar Rent A Car says the store is so large it has had to color-code its nine major rooms so people can more easily locate books. Powell's takes up an entire city block in downtown Portland.
Speaking of Portland, while you're there check out Huber's, the oldest restaurant in the downtown sector. It's famous for its turkey steaks. Don't forget old Fort Vancouver, in the Washington city of the same name, just across the Columbia River, and the Bonneville Dam, just downstream.
A LOOK BACK AT A FAVORITE AREA
If you travel enough you find wonderful cities that seldom get much publicity. A really good example of this is Bozeman, Mont., and the surrounding area.
Bozeman is gateway to the area affectionately called Big Sky country and there even is a small town there called Big Sky.
The actual heart of Big Sky country is the Gallatin National Forest, which surrounds part of the Gallatin River. That crystal-clear stream is a favorite fishing spot, especially for those who love fly fishing. Nearby is the Madison River and Yellowstone.
Because of the sparse population in the area, many of the inns and bed-and-breakfast accommodations are far from their neighbors, offering fishing, hiking and horseback riding -- and quiet. The main attraction in Big Sky country is "just doing nothing," sitting on the porch of an inn such as the Gallatin River Lodge is a treat, particularly if you can throw your watch and cell phone away.
The lodge is one of many in the Bozeman area catering to people who truly want to see clear water, clear skies and to clear their brains for a while. Some of the best food in that part of the country can be found in the Bozeman area.
Most of the facilities in and around Bozeman, such as the Gallatin Inn, are open year round. Some of the area's most dramatic scenery comes during the winter.
For more information on the Gallatin area -- and what grilled buffalo tastes like -- call (888) 387-0148. Bozeman is served by Northwest, Continental, United, Horizon, Alaska and Delta Air Lines.
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