HIGHTOWER: Vacationing in the Buff

Let's take another trip into the Far, Far, Far-Out Frontiers of Free Enterprise.Today, Spaceship Hightower transports you to the outer boundaries of the tourism industry. If you've not yet taken your vacation, consider going au naturel. Believe it or not, nude tourism is taking off in America, with fun-seekers traveling from California to the Carolinas to enjoy in-the-buff vacations. As one tour guide explains the nude-boom: "It's about freedom. Clothes pin you down."Yes, and think of how easy it would be to pack.There are plenty of opportunities. The Hidden Valley Resort in Georgia hosted the annual gathering of the American Association for Nude Recreation this summer; there's a national buck-naked volleyball tournament coming up this fall; "Nudestock '98," a massive music fest for the clothes challenged, will be held in Pelion, South Carolina, in September; and for your higher-end nudists, there's a Caribbean cruise set for the week around January 1, 2000 -- with 550 couples already booked to welcome the new millennium in their birthday suits.According to officials, nude-tourism is now a $400-million industry, triple what it grossed just six years ago. They claim this growth is due to the new global economy -- that American business executives now travel to places where nude beaches are common, and, well ... they like what they see!So the no-clothes vacation has gone beyond the old nudist colony eccentrics to the mainstream, say officials, claiming that the nude experience is now shared by [quote] "ordinary people you work with. Neighbors, brothers-in-law and people at the mall."This is Jim Hightower saying ... My brother-in-law is going to be there? Hmmm ... no thanks.

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