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COMING AND GOING
Dallas's New Image

Sunday, December 31, 2006

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DIVERSITY WATCH
Dallas's New Image

Dallas, long known as a Baptist stronghold and home of Stetson-wearing business types, is touting a new image: gay travel destination. The city has joined other locations, such as Philadelphia and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in actively reaching out to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender visitors.

"Our secret is out," says a page at http://www.dallascvb.com/, the city's official tourism Web site. The page lists venues of special appeal to gay travelers, including Oak Lawn, a neighborhood with a predominantly gay population, bars, museums and more than 20 gay-friendly hotels.

Gay and lesbian travelers, meanwhile, cite San Francisco; Key West, Fla.; New York City; Fire Island, N.Y.; and Provincetown, Mass., as the top five gay-friendly U.S. destinations-- meaning safe and free from threats -- according to a recent national survey by the Travel Industry Association.

The study also noted that gay men spend more than heterosexuals when traveling.

CRUISE NEWS
Studying at Sea

If college tuition hasn't already exhausted the second-mortgage fund, consider sending the kids to study abroad aboard a ship.

The Scholar Ship will launch its maiden 16-week voyage in September with 600 graduate and undergraduate students who will study academic programs developed by corporate executives and academicians at six international universities.

The first voyage leaves from Athens and ends in Kobe, Japan. The second voyage, departing in January 2008, will travel in the opposite direction. Cost: $19,950. A $2 million scholarship fund has been established. Details: 410-962-7344, http://www.thescholarship.com/.

While the Scholar Ship program is new, Semester at Sea has been operating since the 1960s. Students can earn 12 to 15 credits from the University of Virginia while traversing a major swath of the world. Archbishop Desmond Tutu will be on board for the spring semester. Prices start at about $17,000; some scholarships are available. A shorter summer voyage begins at $8,375. Details: 800-854-0195, http://www.semesteratsea.com/.

TRAVEL TICKER

Made your Mardi Gras plans for February? New Orleans is ready to roll, promises Arthur Hardy, publisher of the Mardi Gras Guide. If you prefer partying in snow, Burlington, Vt., boasts the biggest Mardi Gras in New England. Find those and other Fat Tuesday celebrations at http://www.mglinks.com/. . . . Guests with dwarfism or short stature (under 4 feet 10) may soon request in-room "assistive kits" at more than 500 hotels owned by Carlson Hotels, including the Radisson, Park Plaza and Country Inns & Suites brands. Kits include a step stool, a reaching tool, a bar to lower the clothes rack and a device to put the latch-hook lock within reach. . . . The Scotch and the Snickers bars have disappeared from the mini-bars at New York's Affinia Dumont hotel. Turns out it's intentional, part of filling a healthy hotel niche. The executive suites hotel also has added fitness concierges to offer advice on running routes and healthy dining options; in-room workout kits; and decks of cards with relaxation techniques printed on them. If you can't fall asleep because you're craving a whole-grain power bar, don't worry, they've got it in the mini-bar.

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK
Oh, Raleigh?

Southwest has launched a systemwide Web sale for travel through May 10. Fares of $49 to $159 each way are available for sale through Jan. 22. A 14-day advance purchase is required. For example, the fare between BWI and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., is $119 round trip (including taxes); fares on other airlines start at $165. Go to www.southwest.com to purchase.

Reporting: Gary Lee, Cindy Loose

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to cogo@washpost.com. By fax: 202-912-3609. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

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