Sunday, November 23, 2008
Nudist destinations still in the pink as a travel segment
Chicago Tribune 11/23/08
By Chris Santilli | Special to the Tribune
Perhaps encouraged by the discreet nature of Internet travel inquiries and the abundance of anonymous message boards, nudist destinations continue to be a sunny spot in an otherwise cloudy travel industry.
People who once just enjoyed nude sunbathing in their private back yards have found that they aren't alone in wanting to go clothes-free while doing everything from bocce ball and tennis to volleyball, hiking and swimming worldwide.
One in 10 Americans ranks staying at a resort that offers nude recreation as extremely/very desirable, according to a 2008 survey by Ypartnership/Yankelovich National Leisure Travel MONITOR.
In the early 1990s, U.S. and Canadian nude recreation grossed more than $120 million a year, including cruises, resorts and merchandise, according to a Forbes magazine article, which also reported a 20 percent yearly increase in participation.
By 2003, that monetary figure had grown to $400 million.
Now the figure is closer to $450 million, said Carolyn Hawkins, spokeswoman for the American Association of Nude Recreation, or AANR.
And nudists no longer simply gather in colonies (now considered an offensive term to nudists). They enjoy luxury cruises and resorts with spas.
"It used to be that only if you go 500 yards that way in a little cove, you could be naked," said Andrea Hutchinson, president and owner of Go Classy Tours Inc., a Tampa-area travel agency with a side specialty in nude vacations.
Within the last decade, dozens of new resorts in Florida (Caliente near Tampa), California (Sea Mountain in Palm Springs), Mexico (Hidden Beach in Cancun) and the Caribbean (Hedonism III in Jamaica) have opened to cater to nude clients with varying interests.
The demand for nude cruises keeps increasing, said Nancy Tiedmann, owner of Bare Necessities Travel and Tours, in Austin, Texas. One recent Monday she sold 14 nude cruise packages, a number she would typically sell in a week. Whole ships of 2,000 nude guests sail from Caribbean ports.
More resorts are opening to cater to both nudists and lifestylers (those committed life partners who jointly believe monogamy isn't natural), who used to be called swingers. "Nudists take great offense," Hutchinson said, when people confuse nudists with lifestylers. "They are hurting the growth of the [nudist] industry," she added.
Contrary to popular belief, nudism, or naturism, in itself has nothing to do with sex (take note of your Discovery Channel documentaries on hunter-gatherer societies), but librarians sometimes still file nude recreation subjects under sex. Yet most nudist venues cater solely to family-oriented activities.
Nudist resorts also have long been at odds over whether to permit single men and women to attend. Rules vary for singles depending on the resort. Oftentimes single women are given more admittance rights than single men, some of whom leer or are overtly sexual.
Europeans, especially the French and Germans, accept nudist recreation more easily than Americans, even though most aren't nudists themselves. Nudity in advertising and nude beaches abound there.
One-quarter of the town of Cap d'Agde on the Mediterranean in southern France is clothing optional.
Vacationers and residents—singles, couples, families—can spend their entire day nude, whether banking, shopping or eating at a restaurant.
In this era of tightening budgets, maybe nudist vacations make more sense; birthday suits never go out of fashion.
Posted by nudist1010 at 9:43 AM