By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Even before the Sept. 11 attacks hammered air traffic numbers, the Irish tourist industry was suffering a serious slump in the peak summer months.
The number of visitors dropped by 155,000, or 6.8 percent, in the three months from July through September 2001, according to the Central Statistics Office.
Some of the impact of the terror attacks would be reflected in the final 19 days of the period, but the main downturn is though to result from the foot-and-mouth disease crisis.
The fall in the number of visitors from Britain was 12.2 percent, compared to a drop of 7.6 percent in trans-Atlantic traffic.
Taking all routes together the number of Americans and Canadians visiting Ireland fell by 16.3 percent.
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The figures reveal to serious blow the industry suffered with the total number of bednights spent by overseas visitors down by 219,000 from the same period in 2000.
Decreases in the number of bed nights spent in caravan/camp sites and hostels was offset by a large increases in stays in friends/relatives.
While visitors stayed away, the number of Irish going abroad shot up by 15.3 percent.
The numbers travelling abroad on continental European routes increased by 21.2 percent.
However, the cash balance was still favourable with _1,45 billion coming into the country while _1,21 billion was spent by vacationing Irish people..
The full impact of the Sept. 11 attacks will appear in figures for the final quarter that due for release at the end of March.