It is reassuring to discover that someone other than us maintains a
warm spot for the 1969 film comedy "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be
Belgium," whose wry title embodied the worst aspects of breathless
packaged tours as they rolled relentlessly from city to city and
country to country in years past.
Remembered here as a rickety cinematic vehicle (no pun intended)
for wonderful character actors such as Mildred Natwick, Murray
Hamilton, Norman Fell, Marty Ingels and Peggy Cass, the movie --
for the longest time a tour operator's nightmare -- has been
rescued from the revival houses and late-night cable TV to help
promote vacation packages, of all things.
According to Robert Whitley, president of the U.S. Tour
Operators Association, clips of "If It's Tuesday" will be shown in
public service announcements "as a hook to show that today's tour
operators offer a multitude of options."
The Ustoa marketing blitz also features press releases and
travel fact sheets, a video created for use on daytime talk shows
and an Internet-fraud-prevention program.
However, none of these is likely to generate as much hype -- not
to mention potential business -- for tours operators and travel
agents as an attention-getting media campaign based on a slick and
successful Hollywood movie, even one that goes back 30 years.
And if this stratagem works, can we expect to see film clips
from "The High and the Mighty," "The Night My Number Came Up,"
"Murder on the Orient-Express" and "Titanic" as other industry
segments attempt to turn a celluloid negative into a positive?
Just pass the popcorn and keep an eye on the coming