Tourist office: London to lose $2.2B this year

NEW YORK -- The London Tourist Office, which before Sept. 11 had figured the city would lose some $1.5 billion this year from overseas business lost due to hoof and mouth and global economic woes, now estimates that the city's tourist trade will lose about $2.2 billion, a spokesman said.

To stem its losses, the tourist office will focus its short-term marketing for the next three months primarily on the domestic U.K. market, the spokesman said, which accounts for 60% of overnight visitors.

Overseas visitors to London, about 20% of whom are from the U.S., are expected to drop between 15% and 25% this year, the spokesman said, mirroring the drop predicted by the BTA for the U.K. as a whole.

One reason for the London Tourist Office to be cheerful: the Queen's 50th anniversary Golden Jubilee celebrations, which begin in earnest in June.

Annual polls have shown that about 40% of American visitors to the U.K. come because of London's pageantry, history and royal connections, the spokesman said.

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