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Friday, 9 November, 2001, 12:24 GMT
Tourism slump stretches to 2005
Big Ben
Big Ben: Tourist attractions fail to lure US visitors
It will take the UK tourism industry another four years to recover fully from the effects of 11 September, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) claims in a new report.

ABTA says the growth in the number of overseas visitors to the UK will not return to trend levels until the world economy recovers, and confidence in the safety of air travel is restored.

While confidence in the safety of air transport is expected to recover as early as next year, the relative cost of travelling will remain high due to the economic downturn.

This will keep tourist numbers down until 2005.

Far fewer visitors

"The hits the industry has taken this year will be enough to affect the whole 2001-2005 period," said Kevin McCauley of the Centre for Economics and Business Research, who wrote the report.

The number of tourists visiting the UK between 2000 and 2005 is now expected to grow by just 18.3%, down from the 25.9% originally forecast.

Travel from the UK is forecast to grow by 14.7% over the same period rather than the 22.2% previously hoped for.

Short term slump

The slump in traveller numbers will be more acute in the short term. Visits to the UK are expected to fall by 10% this year alone, and by 3% in 2002.

Tourist numbers slumped in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, with the number of high-spending US visitors falling by 45% compared to August.

And London hotel bookings fell by 17%.

The British Tourist Authority has previously said the shortfall in visitor numbers could cost the industry as much as 2.5bn in lost revenues next year.

The 11 September terrorist attacks closely followed the outbreak of this year's foot-and-mouth disease, which kept tourist numbers down throughout the peak summer season.

See also:

02 Nov 01 | Business
Tourist slump to last until 2003
07 Nov 01 | Scotland
Tourism leaders look for answers
23 Oct 01 | Business
US tourists stay away from London
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