Visits down to New York landmarks

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NEW YORK -- Half as many tourists visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island this year compared with 2000, according to the National Park Service, which administers the New York City landmarks.

In the last year, about 2.5 million visitors rode the ferries to both sites, down from 5 million in 2000, park officials said.

The figure is also well below the more than 4 million who had visited in 2001 before the attacks of Sept. 11, which prompted a 100-day shutdown of the two monuments.

Park officials cited several reasons for the decline, including a drop of as much as 20% in the number of foreign visitors, who typically stay in the city longer than domestic tourists and are more likely to visit the two landmarks.

Also, although the number of domestic visitors to the city this year is up slightly compared to pre-Sept. 11 figures, they, too, are staying fewer days.

In addition, although the ban on trips to Liberty Island has long been lifted, the statue's interior is still off-limits.

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