OPERATORS to the US claim business is finally
returning to pre-September 11 levels on the second anniversary of the terrorist
attacks.

They claim bookings have surged ahead for 2004 as
families once again view the US as a safe destination. Price reductions of
nearly 20% – driven by a favourable exchange rate and lower hotel rates – have
also fuelled the recovery.

Long-haul specialist Tradewinds said US sales for next
year are up 50% with multi-centre and wedding packages selling well.

Group product and marketing manager Karl Thompson
said: “Early bookings are encouraging and families’ confidence in Florida is
returning.”

But while predicting next year would see a return to
pre-September 11 2001 levels, Thompson said hoteliers were holding back sales
by not publishing rates early enough.

“They would get more UK business if they revealed
their rates earlier because we could get more of the early-booking market,” he
added.