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TRIP CANCELLATIONS <br> AREA RESIDENTS CHANGING DESTINATIONS, MODE OF TRAVEL

Call it cold feet: Americans are understandably skittish about traveling.

The trip home for Christmas is still on, but flying next week? Many are saying, no way. Still going abroad this month? Maybe next summer.

The international travel and tourism industry is bracing itself for the worst as travel agencies in Western New York and nationwide are flooded with trip cancellations following last week's terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Acting out of concern for safety, the majority of travelers are canceling or rescheduling trips originally planned for October and November, according to local travel agencies.

Those that still plan on traveling are soothing fears by modifying their destination or changing their mode of travel -- driving instead of flying. Elizabeth Vejins, 27, of Kenmore and John Bresnock, 28, of South Buffalo, are opting to stay a little closer to home.

The couple, who will be married Oct. 6, headed to the AAA Travel Store on Delaware Avenue to switch their week-long honeymoon from Cancun, Mexico, to Myrtle Beach, S.C., where Bresnock's father has a timeshare.

With time already off from work, the couple saw no need to change the time of their honeymoon, but staying in the states "let us focus on being together," instead of worrying, Vejins said.

Bresnock felt that if the couple did go to Mexico, they would be concerned about "how to get back to the states, or contact our families, if anything happened. We wouldn't be able to enjoy our trip. It's about whether you feel safe or not."

Postponing trips, opting to travel in the states instead of going abroad, traveling by train instead of plane -- these are seemingly small choices that will add up to a ferocious blow to the global travel industry. A lot of jobs are at stake: The Washington, D.C.-based Travel Industry Association of America says the travel industry is the third largest sales industry in the United States and one of the nation's largest employers. The nation's nine largest airlines report losses between $100 million and $250 million each day the nation's air space was shut down.

Effects will be felt abroad, especially in less-developed nations that rely heavily on the tourism industry. The World Tourism Organization says the money spent by vacationers is the main source of income for almost 40 percent of the world's countries.

Americans are the world's biggest-spending tourists, spending $60.1 billion in 1999, followed by Germans at $48.2 billion and Japanese at $32.8 billion, according to the World Tourism Organization.

"It's wait and see," said Richard Chojnacki, owner of Taylor Travel Service in Williamsville and president of the Upstate New York chapter of the American Society of Travel Agents, "but the majority of trips are not being canceled indefinitely."

Other local travel agencies report the same: people will travel, just not right now.

Larry Chirico, co-owner of A & B Travel in Amherst, has seen trip cancellations for immediate travel, but the agency made bookings this week for Easter time and spring break trips.

Things have been hectic, said Joe Agresta, owner of Blue Ocean Cruises and Tours in West Seneca.

"We spent most of last week trying to get people home," Agresta said, and now the work has shifted to handling cancellations and rescheduling. Although cancellations are being made for many trips through October, a West Caribbean cruise the agency is planning for 200 people in January has had no cancellations.

"People should feel comfortable now because the regulations are so stringent," Agresta said, adding that he believes that if there are no further attacks on the United States, "people will be back flying in a few weeks."

John Connors, vice president of travel for AAA of Western and Central New York, said the number of requested TripTiks, AAA's personalized road trip guides, "went up almost immediately," after Tuesday's attacks.

"Mobility is a right," Connors said. "People will pick up and keep moving."

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