EUROPEAN visitors are making their anti-war feelings felt - by not coming to York.

The tourism industry in York is suffering a double blow from the war in Iraq as, besides the fall in American visitors, the country is now suffering a backlash of anti-war feeling from European visitors.

Gillian Cruddas, chief executive of York Tourism Bureau, said: "We recently had representatives at trade fairs in Germany and Amsterdam, and they reported a strong anti-war feeling.

"If people feel strongly about what is going on they are not going to support the nation. We are caught up in the political trouble. It is hard right now."

The fall in European visitors adds to problems caused by a drop in numbers of American tourists.

The country as a whole is suffering a marked fall in US visitors, with 50 per cent fewer than usual visiting London and a similar decrease in York.

Gillian said: "The American tourism market is very weak right now, agents and journalists we know out there all report that people are simply too afraid to travel.

"They are particularly unhappy about travelling across the Atlantic. They are staying put where they are."

But Gillian remains hopeful for the future.

"Business visitor numbers are remaining positive, both from America and Europe. We currently have three or four American conferences booked in, and they are still on."

After a difficult three years for the area, the domestic market is one of the strongest forces here in the city.

"Weekends are still very busy, with visitors from all over the UK coming here. We have a very strong domestic product here, and we know it will soon turn round."

Hoteliers in the city supported the strength of the British market.

Dean Court Hotel general manager David Brookes said: "We haven't noticed any real difference in visitor numbers. If anything, I feel that the domestic market will fill any gaps which do arise. The internal market is really very strong right now."

Updated: 11:05 Friday, March 28, 2003