40 NYC historic sites compete for grants

NEW YORK – The National Trust for Historic Preservation has announced $3 million in grants for preservation projects at 40 New York City historic sites.

The group says it’s asking the public to vote online for their favorite site before allocating the funds. The top four vote-getters will be guaranteed their full grant request: up to $250,000. The top winners will be announced May 22.

The balance will be distributed to the remaining sites.

The voting is at www. partnersinpreservation.com.

The sites include the Coney Island B&B Carousel, Ellis Island Hospital complex, Gateway National Recreation Area in Brooklyn and the Alice Austen House Museum on Staten Island.

Virginia.org giving prizes to visitors in May

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia tourism officials are hoping to draw 1 million visitors to the state’s website in May, and they’re giving away bigger prizes as they get closer to that goal.

The contest runs through May 31. For every 100,000 visitors to Virginia.org, new prizes will be unlocked, including hot air balloon rides, kayak excursions, gas cards, state park passes and a shopping spree.

If 1 million people visit the site, one visitor could win a Virginia-centered family vacation that includes a stay at Virginia Beach, overnight at the Virginia Aquarium, front-of-the-line passes at Busch Gardens and an overnight stay in Colonial Williamsburg. Airfare, car rental and several meals are included.

People can enter up to 10 times by visiting the site and sharing the link on social media.

Egypt predicts tourist return after 2011 drop

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Egypt’s visitor numbers should bounce back to pre-uprising levels this year after a drop caused by Arab Spring unrest, the country’s tourism minister said.

The country is eager to entice overseas visitors back following the 2011 ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak because the tourism industry is a major source of jobs and foreign currency.

Egyptian Tourism Minister Mounir Abdel-Nour said the sunny North African destination aims to attract 14.5 million tourists this year. That would put it close to the 14.7 million level it drew in 2010.

Visitor numbers plunged by a third last year as travelers made nervous by violent street protests avoided the pyramids, beaches and other sites for which Egypt is known.

Abdel-Nour said the tourism industry is “doing everything in the book” to woo visitors again. He insisted that Egypt remains safe for tourists.

For U.S. State Department travel alerts, visit www.travel.state.gov.

Future of Updike’s Pa. house uncertain

SHILLINGTON, Pa. – Late author John Updike’s childhood home is for sale and facing an uncertain future.

The nonprofit John Updike Society wants to buy the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer’s house with a $200,000 foundation gift to preserve it as a museum and headquarters. But that’s contingent upon Shillington borough granting a zoning variance, which takes time, to address potential parking and traffic concerns in the residential neighborhood.

Current owner Tracy Hoffmann, who runs an ad and marketing firm in the house, about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia, said he can’t wait longer for a sales agreement. He and seven employees plan to move their business next month to a new location.

Several months ago, the owners unsuccessfully tried to sell the house on eBay with a $249,000 starting bid.

Updike, who won Pulitzers for “Rabbit Is Rich” and “Rabbit at Rest,” died in 2009 at 76.

Wire reports