Travel Writer Frommer Boycotts Arizona

Travel guru Arthur Frommer, famed for his Europe on 5 Dollars a Day books, has a new target in his sights: guns. He tells host Guy Raz he'll boycott Arizona because of its gun laws.

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GUY RAZ, host:

One man who knows airports probably better than most is travel guru Arthur Frommer. He is the man who brought us the Frommer guides and the famous "Europe on 5 Dollars a Day," which sadly can no longer be seen on $5 a day, right, Mr. Frommer?

Mr. ARTHUR FROMMER (Author, "Europe on 5 Dollars a Day"): That's correct, alas.

RAZ: That is the famous Arthur Frommer. And one place he most certainly does not plan to visit anytime soon is Arizona. He made the announcement on his blog this past week.

Mr. FROMMER: I, as an individual, will not travel to Arizona until and unless the police department of Phoenix, Arizona agrees that in situations of the sort that they encountered this past week, that they will not stand by like scared rabbits.

RAZ: Let me clarify. You're referring to the demonstrations outside the conference center in Phoenix, Arizona where President Obama spoke recently.

Mr. FROMMER: There were closed to a dozen armed demonstrators, one of which was holding an assault rifle. And the police took the stance that because of the open carry laws of Arizona, they could not go - move in and disarm these individuals. Open carry laws have to take second place to public order and to life.

RAZ: Arthur Frommer, in your blog entry where you explain why you have decided that you will not visit Arizona, you write, and I quote: "I not only believe such practices are a threat to the future of our democracy, but I am firmly convinced that they would also endanger my own personal safety there."

You almost make it sound like it's Mogadishu, but we're talking about Arizona.

Mr. FROMMER: Well, it's getting that way. It's getting that way. The number of guns that are now being carried by citizens in Arizona is becoming frightening.

RAZ: So you're - I mean, so you would really be afraid to go to Arizona?

Mr. FROMMER: I think I would be. I would have hesitancy about knowing that in all sorts of social situations, I am surrounded by people carrying guns and not carrying guns for personal defense purposes but to threaten and to intimidate. That's what I'm really against.

RAZ: Arthur Frommer, you're a little bit like the Simon Cowell of travel. Do you know who I'm talking about, Simon Cowell, right?

Mr. FROMMER: Yes, I know of him.

RAZ: From "American Idol," right, okay.

Mr. FROMMER: Yes.

RAZ: So I mean, what you say about travel is, to thousands of people, maybe hundreds of thousands of people, the final word. You could do a lot of damage to Arizona tourism industry.

Mr. FROMMER: I'm not seeking to do that damage. I'm not going to be followed in lockstep. There are a lot of my readers who will obviously completely disagree with me. But I think it's gone too far. I think that we should now take a stand against what happened in Phoenix this past week. It was absolutely outrageous.

RAZ: Say, you know, once things calm down a bit, and maybe the state changes the laws to your liking, and you decide maybe then to go to Arizona, could you do it on $5 a day?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FROMMER: No, I don't think I could do it on $5 a day. There are very few places in the world today when you can any longer live on $5 a day. But you can continue to adopt the travel habits that we used to follow when we lived on $5 a day, living unpretentiously. It's that type of travel that, to me, is memorable travel.

RAZ: That's Arthur Frommer, the travel guru and publisher of the Frommer Guides. Mr. Frommer, thanks.

Mr. FROMMER: Well, thank you for having me.

RAZ: We called up the mayor of Phoenix, Phil Gordon, for his response.

Mayor PHIL GORDON (Phoenix, Arizona): I certainly respect him as the father of the travel world. And I was concerned when he wrote his blog that he wasn't aware of the all the facts, I mean, with respect to the safety of the area of the city of Phoenix, the safest major city in the United States, and we invite everybody to come, and in fact, I'll guarantee a safe visit in the city of Phoenix any day of the year.

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