TOO MUCH INFORMATION?
Down in Tulsa, Oklahoma, they're trying out body scanners as a potential replacement for metal detectors at the airport. Of course, this hasn't gone over well with everyone.
According to USA Today, "The scanners aim to close a loophole by finding non-metallic weapons such as plastic and liquid explosives, which the TSA considers a major threat. The machines raise privacy concerns because their images reveal outlines of private body parts."
"We're getting closer and closer to a required strip-search to board an airplane," said Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The folks who run the machines say they blur out people's faces so they can't identify who is who. And they insist all images are promptly erased after screening. But it's easy to see some, uh, spectacularly-built person perhaps having their image, somehow, preserved for posterity. Hey, it's possible, isn't it?
The newspaper said airports in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami, Albuquerque and Salt Lake City will join the test in the next two months.
If anyone goes through one, let me know what you think.
SNOWBIRDS ON THE RISE
No surprise that Canadians love to visit Florida. But it's a bit unexpected to see that Canadian visits to the Sunshine State grew by some 14 per cent last year.
Visit Florida folks say 2,832,300 Canucks dipped into the state last year, compared to 2,500,000 in 2007.
On the other hand, and you knew this was coming, Canadian travel to Florida fell by 5.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008. Not great if you're a Florida innkeeper, but it's better numbers than a lot of places can claim.
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
According to American Express Travel bookings, some smaller cities are still doing well in the tourism biz. Tucson, Arizona saw its numbers jump 12 per cent in January 2009 versus January 2008, while Palm Springs, California went up 13 per cent and Portland, Oregon jumped 38 per cent.
Portland's numbers seem a little strange. It's a great town, as I recall, but January's a weird time to head to the Pacific Northwest.
AmEx says Philadelphia also is doing well these days. Maybe it was the Phillies' winning the World Series. Or maybe it's aggressive marketing and cheaper hotel rooms than New York - certainly there were Philly posters all over the Tube in London when I was there a couple weeks ago. Not very interesting posters, but at least they were pushing. And apparently they were pushing the right city. As opposed to the Philadelphia transit agency, which has some red-faced officials after folks realized that the transit passes they were selling recently had a picture of the New York City skyline on it. Oooh, that's embarrassing.
Golf resorts have seen no end of trouble in North America, but it seems there's still a lot of golf being built elsewhere in the world. Vietnam has become a hot spot, as has China. Now, it's Honduras on the golf map, with a Pete Dye course called the Black Pearl at a place called Pristine Bay.
It's on the island of Roatan, 35 miles off the coast and it's Dye's first course in Honduras. A residential/resort development also is underway on the island, previously known as a scuba-diving spot due to a coral reef that's said to be the second largest in the world.