Racing the Clock

Empty rides and rooms are forcing travel companies to reinvent the way they do business--or fail

The suicide bombers who struck the World Trade Center may not have brought down America's financial markets, but they would be pleased about the effects of their handiwork if they could pay a visit to Disney World today. Or the Las Vegas strip. Or the beaches of Hawaii. Everywhere there are signs of economic fallout: no lines, cheap tickets.

The $582 billion annual income of the U.S. travel industry is bigger than the entire federal defense budget. And it has been brought to its knees, reduced to begging for government handouts and wooing potential tourists with outrageously attractive deals. At the...

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