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World Travel

'When is Nessie fed?' and other dumb travel questions

William Hageman  Dec 06, 2009

Teachers like to say there are no dumb questions.

Teachers need to work in tourism offices.

Travelers are expected to be curious. But some abuse the privilege, like the vacationer who wanted to know what time the Loch Ness monster got fed.

We contacted several tourism offices and asked for the oddest questions they've received. Teachers, take note.

According to Jennifer Haz, of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (, one inquiring mind asked: "Can you tell me which beach is closest to the ocean?"

Paul Gauger, of the office in New York, responded to our inquiry with a list of questions that included, "Why did they build so many ruined castles and abbeys in England?"

You wonder how these people find their way to the airport.

Cara Schneider, of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (, says that one tourist was disappointed about the Kennett Square mushrooms (the fungi are a multimillion-dollar industry in that city). The visitor's complaint? No square mushrooms.

Another Philadelphia tourism staffer, Donna Schorr, reports: "I have been asked where in the city the Boston Tea Party took place."

Would-be visitors to Japan can be similarly geographically challenged. Nori Akashi, of the Japan National Tourism Organization ( office in New York, says she has gotten requests for a map of Saipan and for information on Guam. And the question: "How long does it take from Tokyo to Korea . . . by the famous bullet train?"

Heather Bryant, of Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau (, says one prospective vacationer asked about taking a ferry around downtown. Another wanted to know what time the whales swim by. Then there was the question about whether the tours of (14,411-foot) Mount Ranier went all the way to the top.

Karen Vaughan, of the Chicago Office of Tourism (, reports one caller asked about visiting the Museum of Science and Industry and the Smithsonian in the same day. Another wondered if Millennium Park was a water park.

The San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau ( has a news release that includes some of the odd questions that the office has fielded, such as, "Can we camp in Golden Gate Park?" (Sure, pitch your tent by the Japanese Tea Garden or among the art museums) and "Where's Garibaldi Square?" (Maybe in Italy? It's Ghirardelli Square).

Going to The Netherlands? Be sure to visit the tulip factory. At least that's what one visitor wanted to do. Rosina Shiliwala, of the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (, says her office was asked that, as well as whether Thanksgiving is celebrated in Holland. Someone also wanted to know if they would end up in Holland if they drove through the Holland Tunnel.

Silly. That's what the bullet train is for.

'When is Nessie fed?' and other dumb travel questions
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