Terrorism, Iraq Create Tourism Slack

Many East Texas schools are on Spring Vacation this week. But, with uncertainty about terrorism and a possible war in Iraq, more and more of those vacations are staying closer to home.

Frances and Bobby Rook are spending this spring break in the front yard. Some of their family members had planned to head overseas, but changed their minds at the last minute.

"They had tickets to fly to Paris, France," said Bobby.  "And, my nephew started thinking about it and the way they were being treated now by the French people over there, he just decided he was not going over there and spend his money and be riddiculed. So, they just went to Las Vegas."

Jim Rice, of Jim Rice Travel in Tyler has seen the effects of uncertainty. "We have some people booked in the Mediteranian, and I wonder if they are really going to go through that or not." His bookings for vacations are down so far this year. "They want to see what's happening, when it's going to happen, if it's going to happen before they make up their mind."

The threat of war in Iraq and fears of terrorism is why cruise lines are moving many of their ships in the Mediteranian to the Caribbean. Rice says that means great travel deals are now much closer to home. "Galveston and Houston is first on my mind. It's an easy drive and prices are fantastic."

But Bobby and Frances Rook aren't yet convinced. Frances says their summer vacation is still up in the air. "Where are we going? Well, we're considering either California, or Colorado. But, we're going to stay in the United States."

Stephen Parr, reporting.