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COMING & GOING

Nashville floods, Arizona boycott, airline merger, RV rally

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Nashville's flood flash

Nashville is slowly drying out after the record-breaking rains and floods that last week drenched downtown and soaked such landmark sites as the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Most of the damage downtown was caused by the Cumberland River, which crested at 52 feet, an unprecedented level. At press time Thursday, the power was still out in portions of downtown and some telephone lines were down, including the toll-free number of the city's convention and visitors bureau. However, a rainbow looms ahead, with receding waters and attractions hoping to reopen over the coming days.

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"Downtown is probably going to be kinda dead for a while," said Mary Beth Ikard, a spokeswoman for the city. "But the show will go on."

The CVB, which is currently communicating through its Web site (http://www.visitmusiccity.com), Facebook and Twitter, released an update of diversions prepping for post-flood visitors. Most Nashville attractions are open, including Belle Meade Plantation, the Hermitage (Andrew Jackson's home), the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art, and the Nashville Zoo. The Country Music Hall of Fame was scheduled to reopen Saturday. But check the bureau's Web site for altered hours or entry points; for example, at Belle Meade, guests are asked to enter on Leake Avenue. Music City's most famous attraction, the Grand Ole Opry, saw waters swell to its pews, forcing it to close the building, halt tours and relocate concerts to other stages, such as Ryman Auditorium. For venue changes, see http://www.opry.com.

According to Ikard, downtown hotels received the brunt of the damage. As an alternative, she points to lodging in midtown near Vanderbilt University or in neighborhoods a distance from the river or tributaries. For example, Hutton Hotel, about a mile and a half from downtown, is accepting guests and has working telephones. The tourism office also lists available rooms at http://www.visitmusiccity.com/visitors/floodinformation_lodging.

Unfortunately, the grande dame of Nashville, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, located about 15 minutes from downtown, is shuttered and may remain so for many months, says Ikard. According to its Web site (http://www.gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-opryland), the property is not accepting future reservations. "When there is new information regarding the hotel's condition, we will post the news here on the website. Thank you for your patience and for your support," reads its apologetic message.

Don't blame the Grand Canyon

Please go to Arizona despite its tough new immigration law, the U.S. Travel Association is asking tourists and business travelers.

Many organizations and city councils are boycotting Arizona since its governor signed a law late last month that would require immigrants to carry documents verifying their immigration status. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, for instance, canceled a 300-person meeting at the JW Marriott in Scottsdale, while San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom imposed a moratorium on any city-related travel to the state.

"We need to protect this critical aspect of our economy and reward hardworking Americans instead of proposing boycotts that will lead to job losses and economic hardship for families and local communities," said Roger Dow, the president and chief executive of the U.S. Travel Association. "It is inappropriate to punish the men and women of our industry who have done no harm to others."

Dow urged federal action on immigration reform. "The longer Congress delays action on this issue, the greater the likelihood for divisive and detrimental policies," he said.

Travel tickers

Continental and United Airlines announced last week that the carriers will merge late this year, forming the world's largest airline. The $3 billion merger will combine United, the dominant carrier at Washington Dulles and operator of many transpacific routes, with Continental's vast network of flights to Europe, Latin America and the Northeast. The merged airline would be expected to serve 144 million passengers annually in 59 countries. . . . The Rally, the annual RV rally to be held in Louisville July 22-25, will feature special events and exhibits to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the RV. RV enthusiasts can live side by side while participating in daily seminars, entertainment and volunteer projects. The registered attendee with the oldest RV wins 100 gallons of gasoline/diesel. Info: http://www.therally.com.

Reporting: Andrea Sachs and Nancy Trejos. Help feed CoGo. Send travel news to: cogo@washpost.com. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.


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