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Friday, 5 October, 2001, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
UK tourism counts cost of terror strikes
Trafalgar Square
UK tourist attractions are receiving fewer visitors
The travel slump prompted by last month's terrorist strikes will prove more costly to UK hotels and visitor attractions than the affects of the foot-and-mouth outbreak, tourism chiefs have warned.

A trade slide stemming from the atrocities has snuffed out an apparent recovery in the UK's epidemic-hit tourism sector, the British Tourist Authority said.

And the downturn is likely to prove more perilous than that prompted by foot-and-mouth, which will cost the UK more than 1.5bn in lost takings from foreign tourists this year, the BTA said.

"We feel that the latest blow to tourism will have a far deeper and long-lasting effect," BTA chief executive Jeff Hamblin said.

Recovery quashed

The warning followed the release of official data showing signs of a revival in UK tourism in August, with the number of North American visitors back at last year's levels.

"There is evidence that the market was slowly but surely recovering from the devastating impact of foot-and-mouth," Mr Hamblin said.

But the authority has already detected signals of a new slump in business at hotels, bed and breakfasts and tourist attractions.

"We are hearing that trade is tailing off significantly," a BTA spokesman told BBC News Online.

"Just look at the numbers of people being laid off by airlines because people are reluctant to travel."

The authority on Friday restated estimates that the attacks would lead to a 1bn revenue drop from overseas visitors to the UK in the last three months of the year.

The BTA is awaiting further data before providing a forecast for the trade implications next year.

August slump

The Office for National Statistics on Friday said the number of overseas visitors to Britain in August was 11% lower than a year before.

The UK's closest neighbours seem to have been particularly deterred by the foot-and-mouth outbreak, which prompted the closure of footpaths and the cancellation of events as authorities attempted to control the epidemic.

Visitor numbers from Western European countries were down 18%.

But the number of tourists from North America recovered to stand unchanged in August from a year before.

Foreign tourists spent 7.8bn in the first eight months of 2001, 10% less than in the same period last year, Friday's report said.

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The BBC's Sean Brickell
"There is an air of caution across the country"

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See also:

18 Sep 01 | Business
What now for tourism?
08 Jun 01 | Business
Tourism numbers hit record low
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