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Amphibious tours show off San Diego



Published: Sun, November 4, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Amphibious toursshow off San Diego

Seeing San Diego by land and sea has proved popular: A new tour that combines both has drawn about 4,000 customers since it began in August, the operator says.

The Sea and Land Adventures tour, or SEAL, uses two amphibious vehicles that hold about 50 people each. On 90-minute tours, they navigate streets and take dips in San Diego and Mission bays, with visits and views of the Gaslamp Quarter, Old Town, Coronado Island, Point Loma and the city's skyline.

Unlike the World War II-era amphibious military tour vehicle that sank in Arkansas in May 1999, killing 11, the SEAL boats are modern vessels specially built for tours, with the hull divided into small, watertight compartments, says the operator, Old Town Trolley Tours.

The trips cost $24 for adults and $12 for children 4 to 12; free under 4. They leave hourly starting at 10:15 a.m. every day from downtown. No reservations are needed. Call (619) 298-8687 or visit www.historictours.com on the Web for more information.

Zagat guide undergoeslast-minute changes

The Zagat Survey released its 2002 guide to New York City restaurants recently with last-minute changes caused by the Sept. 11 attacks, which occurred less than two weeks before the book was delivered to the printer.

About 20 restaurants are listed as "temporarily closed" in the guide, which features diners' ratings of restaurants, said co-publisher Tim Zagat, who is also chairman of New York City & amp; Co., the private-public partnership that promotes tourism. Other restaurants, of course, are missing entirely from the guide, including the landmark Windows on the World, on the 107th floor of 1 World Trade Center, which was destroyed.

Overall, more than 30 restaurants and food outlets were either destroyed or made inaccessible to customers as a result of the attacks, according to a separate report that Zagat prepared.

Stone crab harvestersopen ships to the public

MARATHON, Fla. (AP) -- Aficionados of stone crab claws, which many seafood lovers will argue are more delectable than even Maine lobsters, can now get an up-close-and-personal look at how their favorite crustaceans are harvested in the Florida Keys.

With the stone crab season just under way, Keys Fisheries in Marathon, an affiliate of Miami Beach's famed Joe's Stone Crab restaurant, is taking reservations for public trips aboard the company's commercial fishing boats.

Three-hour tours, aboard 40- to 50-foot vessels, provide opportunities to observe fishermen as they reap crabs from traps and process their claws. The $425 cost covers up to six passengers and grants them up to six pounds of fresh claws either iced for travel or prepared at a dockside restaurant and served with side dishes.

The stone crab is considered a renewable resource because only its claws are harvested. After the crab is returned to sea, it regenerates new claws within one to two years.

"By combining tourism and commercial fishing, the Keys' largest industries, we're educating the public firsthand about fishing's significance to the region's economy and maritime heritage," says Gary Graves, a partner in the facility known to many Keys residents as "Joe's South."

The Florida Keys are the state's leading provider of claws, with almost half of the annual state harvest derived from surrounding waters, says Greg DiDomenico, executive director of Monroe County Commercial Fishermen Inc., a seafood industry lobbying group.

Traditionally, that harvest, which continues through May 15, weighs in at 3 million pounds and is worth at least $25 million, DiDomenico says.

Thailand cuts luxury taxto discourage evasion

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- The government of Thailand has agreed to slash the excise tax on yachts and pleasure craft to help the shipbuilding and tourist industries.

The reduction from 50 percent to 5 percent, which was proposed by the finance ministry, should encourage people to pay the tax, which they had been evading because it was so high, said a government news release. Thai seaside resorts are popular destinations for foreign expatriates.

The Thai government is generally lax about collecting luxury taxes, especially from powerful and influential people.

But in April 1998, Thai customs officers seized nearly 150 yachts in a crackdown on suspected tax evaders, reportedly including one government politician.

The crackdown came as the Thai economy was at its nadir after a business downturn in 1997 triggered a national financial crisis.

The minimum import tax on a yacht is $67,415, and many pleasure craft owners try to get around it by contending that their vessels are merely visiting Thai waters.




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