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Briefs: Bin Laden's death ups terror risk for Americans, U.S. says

| Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011

The Obama administration says Osama bin Laden's death has raised the risk of anti-American violence worldwide.

The State Department said in a global travel warning that Americans should take precaution and maintain vigilance about terrorist threats, demonstrations and the possibility of violence against U.S. citizens.

It says al-Qaida and other groups are planning terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in Europe, Asia, Africa and Middle East.

The department says attacks might be in the form of suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings and bombings.

Americans should consider the potential for attacks on transportation systems and tourist infrastructure, it says. It noted such attacks in Moscow, London, Madrid, Glasgow and New York in recent years.

The department also warned Americans to avoid demonstrations in the Arab world because they can turn violent.

Hawaiian hikes interisland 1st bag fee

Hawaiian Airlines is hiking its first checked bag fee for interisland flights by 70 percent.

The airline announced that starting Sept. 1, the fee for the first piece of checked luggage on interisland flights is going up from $10 to $17.

Glenn Taniguchi, Hawaiian's senior vice president of marketing and sales, says the airline has changed other fees in step with the rest of the airline industry, but has held the line on interisland baggage fees for the past two years.

He says increasing costs of operation make the hike unavoidable.

All other baggage fees for Hawaiian remain unchanged.

Report shows Ga. getting more foreign tourists

The number of travelers from around the globe who are visiting Georgia is increasing, according to a new report.

It's an encouraging sign because tourism is a key industry for the state, employing more than 233,000 in related jobs including hotels, restaurants and attractions, officials say.

In 2010, the number of international travelers to Georgia increased 19 percent while foreign visitors coming to Atlanta grew by 25 percent, according to figures recently released by the U.S. Commerce Department's Office of Travel and Tourism Industries.

The increase might be a sign of a turnaround for metro Atlanta, where visitor spending had dropped by 11 percent in 2009 to $9.8 billion, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. It had been as high as $11.4 billion in 2006 and 2007.

"In a challenging economic climate, tourism has been a source of strength as more and more people discover what Georgia has to offer," Gov. Nathan Deal said in a statement.

In Savannah, the numbers on overnight travelers who get hotel rooms rose by more than 200,000 in 2010 compared to the year before, says Joseph Marinelli, president of the Savannah Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

At Stone Mountain outside Atlanta, "we've seen a little growth, but not as much as the state has cited," says Jeanine Jones, a spokeswoman for Stone Mountain Park. "Of course, a little bump is nice."

At the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta -- one of the state's largest attractions -- officials say visitation numbers were flat last year at about 2.2 million people.

Many of the state's attractions are a short drive from the world's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. That provides easy access, and brings people to Georgia as a base for their travel, Georgia State University School of Hospitality Director Debra Cannon says.

Funtown Splashtown is expanding

Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco, Maine, plans to expand its water park before next season, adding a tower with six additional water slides.

Officials say the tower will have two levels, with the tallest one reaching 60 feet skyward. People using the tallest tower will stand in clear capsules before the floor drops, sending them hurtling downward at 40 feet per second.

Ken Cormier, founder and CEO of Funtown Splashtown, says the expansion also will include a water slide that goes through the loop of another.

The water slide tower will be at the current Kartland Picnic Area. The park will be opening a new restaurant and restroom as part of the project.

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