Dear BP:

The travel industry might be on to something. Support for travel marketing and advertising by Gulf Coast destinations may help to reduce the economic damage caused by the oil, taking some of the pressure off that $20 billion compensation fund you've established.

It's especially important to destinations that might never be directly affected by the oil but whose tourism has dropped off because potential visitors are jittery or misinformed about local conditions.

Marketing money could be money well spent if it keeps tourism economies in those areas from collapsing unnecessarily.

Think about it.

And, by the way, can we stop calling it a "spill"? Isn't it really a "gusher"?

• • •

Dear House:

We note that you are again debating legislation to end the travel ban to Cuba, and we note that it is originating, once again, in the Agriculture Committee.

We realize that politics makes strange bedfellows, and we understand that many American farmers are interested in Cuba as an export market.

But while agriculture and travel are both affected by the trade embargo against Cuba, they are each important enough to be seen in isolation. Neither needs to be propped up by the other.

Agricultural products may be strategic bargaining chips in our relations with Cuba and other countries, but the right of our citizens to travel freely should never be.

• • •

Dear Britain:

We know that your Imperial past and your fine educational system have given your citizens and elected leaders an unparalleled understanding of geography, but we are appalled that you have been unable to correct the arbitrary application of your odious Air Passenger Duty tax.

In truth, we are somewhat embarrassed that the western regions of the U.S. benefit from your practice of basing the tax on the distance between London and the capital city of the destination country.

Small countries in the Caribbean rightly believe it's unfair for U.K. visitors to pay a higher tax on a flight to Barbados than on a flight to Hawaii.

Bad form!

• • •

Dear ACLU:

We've had our differences in the past, but we're glad you've gone to court to challenge the way the government manages the "No Fly List."

We agree that if the government is going to maintain such a list and bar U.S. citizens from traveling by air, it shouldn't strand them in foreign countries with no recourse and no explanation.

Also, we were wondering, did you invite anybody in the travel business to join the suit or lend support?

• • •

Dear Ryanair:

You got lots of free publicity when the media circulated reports that you were considering a new cabin configuration that would create "standing room," possibly with straps for passengers to hang on to, as in a subway car.

You got even more free publicity when it was reported that you were considering pay toilets.

We didn't see your name in the news last week, so the kids in our summer camp came up with the attached list of attention-getting gags. Please note we are not endorsing No. 6 ("Food Fight").

Very truly yours,

This column appeared in the July 5 issue of Travel Weekly.

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