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Travel sites take off after US attacks

Travel sites are back to receiving normal levels of traffic, after steep losses following the 11 September terrorist attacks

Traffic to well-known travel sites has eventually returned to normal levels, after being hit badly by the terrorist attacks on the US last month.

The number of people visiting general travel sites such as Expedia and Travelocity almost halved in the week following the air attacks targeted at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Flights are still far from returning to full capacity, but the Internet research company webHancer reports that travel sites have just begun to attract normal levels of traffic again.

In the past couple of days, traffic to the most popular American travel sites has approached or exceeded the traffic level before destruction hit the US on 11 September. In the week of the atrocities, traffic fell to 57 percent of the pre-attack levels. This gradually rose to 63 percent of normal traffic levels in the week ending 21 September, and then took a leap to 87 percent of pre-attack levels by 28 September. One month after the attacks, travel traffic is now exceeding traffic from the week before the attacks, reaching 104 percent.

The webHancer report speculates that bargain-hunters may now try to cash in on the cheap fares available in light of the terrorist threat. It also suggests that the public may slowly be regaining its confidence about flying after witnessing the public displays of travel plans by government officials.

Airlines' own sites, by contrast, have seen no drop-off in traffic and in fact have been busier than ever following 11 September. At the United Airlines site, in particular, traffic has remained at or above pre-attack levels. In the week following the bombings, traffic leapt to 424 percent of the pre-attack levels, and in the last few days has levelled out to 155 percent.

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