Niles travel agent says statistics misleading

Published 12:40 am Monday, April 7, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Recent world events may have led to the impression people aren't travelling as much as before, mostly because of safety concerns.
A local travel agent, however, blames much of the media for making the amount of people travelling seem lower than it actually is.
Michele Boyd, owner of Signal Tours &Travels in Niles, said the three main factors contributing to the impression people aren't travelling are the country's economic situation, the September 11 terrorism tragedy and the recent years' unstable world-climate.
In addition, recent outbreaks in some countries of the highly contagious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, that affects the lungs, and the Norwalk virus, a gastrointestinal illness that has been found onboard cruise ships, has created the impression travel might not be the safest thing to do anymore.
Those impressions, however, do not match with the facts and statistics people in the travel business base their views upon.
She said most people don't seem concerned about travelling and they feel informed enough to continue with their travels, regardless of what is going on around the world.
But although people are travelling more this year than last year, Boyd does see a change in travel patterns.
She said it seems like people are currently choosing destinations like Hawaii, Alaska, Australia and the South Pacific.
She said many cruise ships operating in the Mediterranean will be moved to the Caribbean this summer because of its proximity to the Middle East, and the ongoing war with Iraq.
Her own employees often take the opportunity to travel abroad, especially during the winter, and they see for themselves what the travel conditions are around the world.
One of Boyd's employees, who recently returned from a trip to Singapore and Bali, said she never felt uncomfortable while travelling there.
She said the authorities, when she was there, were taking the necessary precautions in public areas by wiping down hand-rails and doing their best to prevent SARS from spreading.
But people were wearing masks to protect themselves, she told Boyd when back at work.
Although most people dream of a vacation abroad, many people decide to spend their holiday in the U.S.
Boyd said world events won't have a major impact on domestic tourism in this area.