ALONG with what has turned into a comfortable summer in Ohio comes good news and bad about Americans on the move again.
The rebound is significant, though statistics from the travel industry suggest that the horror of the 9/11 terrorist attacks didn't halt travel. It slowed its growth.
The bad news for northwest and northeast Ohio is that the central part of the state is drawing substantially larger crowds this year.
The Ohio Division of Travel and Tourism says it is attracting as many as 35 million visitors. Good for the Columbus area. The southeast part of the state is also attracting more visitors.
Not so good for our region.
Our status as a travel destination is on a slide, down 9.6 percent last year from the year before and well beyond the 6.8 percent decline the southwest part of the state experienced.
It isn't simply a matter of day trips. Americans have overcome their 9/11-inspired fear of flying. But their confidence is really jumping this year, along with traveler patience with the burdensome process of air travel.
Flights to Las Vegas are up, USA Today has documented, along with helicopter trips to the Grand Canyon. So are vacation-home bookings in Hawaii, where owners are raising prices by 10 and 15 percent to capitalize on heavy demand.
Cruise ship bookings to both Alaska and Europe are also on the rise. And bookings to Europe are swelling, even to nations where our government isn't popular, with no negative fallout. Said one 22-year-old in Paris: "I can't live in fear."
The U.S. travel industry is elated at the multiple evidence of uptick, and so should we all be. Americans have always been a mobile nation, and the extent of our mobility has always been a barometer for our feelings about ourselves. It's good to feel good again.