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    The historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, Calif., is decorated for Christmas with nearly 4 million lights illuminating the property through Jan. 5. Daily tours of the four-star luxury hotel, which began as a two-story adobe guest house in 1876, acquaint visitors with the rich history of the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa.

Nation eyes ‘Thrones’ to lift tourism

LONDON » "Game of Thrones" has drawn in millions of viewers. Can it bring in tourists, too?

Tourism officials in Northern Ireland say they are looking at ways to capitalize on the success of HBO’s fantasy TV series.

Much of "Game of Thrones" is filmed in Northern Ireland, which provides a backdrop of castles and rugged coastlines for the series’ fictional land of Westeros.

Northern Ireland’s Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster announced the tourism strategy Wednesday but gave no details. Foster said she wanted to attract more than 2 million visitors a year to Northern Ireland by 2016, compared with about 1.8 million people in 2013.

Hotel will stay open during upgrade

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. » The most recognizable hotel at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim will be undergoing renovations over the next two years.

But the concessionaire that runs El Tovar won’t completely shut down the building as originally planned.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts will spruce up guest rooms with new carpet, bedding and curtains, larger armoires and bigger flat-screen TVs. The roof will be replaced, and some structural problems will be fixed.

The plan was to shut down the hotel from January through mid-April for the makeover. The National Park Service asked Xanterra to reconsider.

Xanterra regional sales and marketing director Bruce Brossman says the company instead will do the renovation in two phases through 2015, leaving most of the 78 guest rooms open.

Hermitage holds holiday night tours

NASHVILLE, Tenn. » The Hermitage is offering evening tours for the holidays.

President Andrew Jackson’s home will be decorated for a Jacksonian Christmas as historical interpreters guide guests through the mansion.

The after-hours tours are designed to give visitors a personal look into what Christmas would have been like for the seventh president. Guests on the night tours will learn why the Jackson family never had a Christmas tree and why firecrackers were an important part of the festivities.

The tours are on Thursday and Dec. 19, beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance. More information is available at

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