UK and Ireland hit hardest by terrorist attacks

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The UK and Ireland have been the European countries hit hardest by the slump in tourism since the terrorist attacks on the United States in...

The UK and Ireland have been the European countries hit hardest by the slump in tourism since the terrorist attacks on the United States in September.

It will be of little comfort to UK publicans to know that Spanish beach bars and Greek tavernas have been barely affected by the fall in visitor numbers from the US, Japan and Middle East.

However, EU commissioner Erkki Liikanen believes the relatively localised effect should make it easy for a Europe-wide tourism initiative to succeed in winning visitors back.

At a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels to discuss the tourism slump, Mr Liikanen urged all member states to step up their efforts to encourage visitors to Europe.

He said: "It is too early to assess the long-terms effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the sector, but we are confident that the decline in visitors to Europe will be reasonably short-lived."

The meeting considered a report which showed that long-haul visitors to the UK and Ireland have fallen by a third. There are a number of reasons why the effects have been felt most keenly here. Britain is an especially popular destination with long-haul travellers and also attracts a lot of business visitors. The after-effects of the foot-and-mouth crisis have also played a part.

A national tourism body, called the Tourism Alliance, was set up in Britain in October after culture secretary Tessa Jowell called for a more united front.

It includes representatives from industries which contribute to tourism. The pub trade is represented by the British Beer and Pub Association and the British Hospitality Association.

It is currently looking at the long-term development of the industry as well as short-term concerns following foot-and-mouth and the terrorist attacks.

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