With GOP Convention coming, many N.Y.ers are going

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NEW YORK -- With the Republican National Convention in town in about three weeks, a number of New Yorkers -- and their travel agents -- are going to be outta here.

Although there is a hint of partisanship in the exodus -- one client was heard to say, I dont want to be here when they are walking on our streets -- the prospect of work-week traffic snarls and congestion is the main impetus for leaving the city.

Blake Fleetwood, president of Planetarium Travel/American Express, said of his clients, Everyone is leaving town, and they are going everywhere -- London, Paris, the Hamptons and Quebec.

Fleetwood will be among the escapees, but he expects his staff to be at work at his Manhattan office, which is more than 40 blocks north of Madison Square Garden, the GOPs headquarters from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

Even with some New Yorkers making themselves scarce during the convention, he said the event still may be a boon for the city. Usually, business is slow in August for taxi drivers and restaurateurs.

It is looking like a little boon for Fleetwood, too. He owns a small brownstone near his Manhattan office and has set aside four studios as a bed-and-breakfast. All four are booked during the convention.

For Roberta Sonnino of Roberta Sonnino Travel, on 34th Street across from the Garden, the issue is running the business. She said she and her staff will have to decide whether to work on another agencys premises or come to the office.

It will be a slow week with few sales, she said, but, unlike some businesses, the agency cant close because its a service business.

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