back of the house

Toronto Rocks

As we went to press at the end of July, Toronto was preparing to celebrate the end of its SARS scare/siege with a 12-hour rock concert headlined by the Rolling Stones and Guess Who on July 30. Crowds of up to 450,000 were expected. Other good news: The American Library Association saw a solid 18,000 in attendance at its June convention in Toronto, just 2,000 off from pre-SARS expectations. As we reported in our June cover story (“Fear Factor,” page 24), the association forged ahead with the convention, which was held just weeks after the second outbreak of SARS in Toronto was reported. Let's hear it for the librarians!

A Great Time for Nudists

Times may be tough for many associations and their meetings, but the American Association for Nude Recreation is not one of them. The 28-year-old organization, whose members enjoy “clothing-free, clothing optional recreation throughout North America,” has seen its membership jump some 75 percent over the last decade, to 50,000.

AANR now has affiliations with 267 clothing-optional clubs, which offer a summer schedule jam-packed with Caribbean-themed barbecues, dance parties, limbo parties, and volleyball and tennis tournaments. But this isn't just a club scene any more. Nude recreation and travel has grown into a $400 million global industry (up from $120 million in 1992), according to the group's web site ( [3]). Nude flights, train rides, and cruising are on the upswing, says AANR. One “bare” spot for this market: cold weather destinations. Nude skiing, anyone?

Hotel Tax Helps Solve Budget Gap

In a scenario that other states are likely to watch closely, if not follow, New Jersey legislators, trying to raise $119,000 million to patch up a state budget deficit, approved a new 7 percent state tax on hotel rooms. The tax went into effect August 1, and will combine with the state sales tax for a 13 percent tax on hotel rooms. That's still more competitive than New York City, with its 13.5 percent room tax plus $2 per hotel room, but then some would say there's more than a river between New Jersey and New York.

No Cigars and No Shows

The world of international exhibitions is more than a little affected by security issues these days. Just ask Peter Nathan, who heads up Westport, Conn.-based PWN Exhibicon International, LLC. The company produced a groundbreaking medical equipment exhibition in Cuba in 2000, and then went on to produce a farm equipment show in Cuba in September 2002 that resulted in about $92 million in sales by U.S. agribusiness companies, according to a news report filed by the International Association for Exhibition Management.

But Nathan was recently denied permission by the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Business Council to do a farm products trade show in Havana in January 2004 because of “foreign policy guidance received from the Department of State,” according to Nathan. Too bad for U.S farmers — and for Cubans.