TOURISM is on the up again after foot-and-mouth disease - but only just, new figures reveal.

The overseas tourist market is making a slow recovery, although domestically the picture is a lot better.

The UK received 2.22 million visitors in April, compared with 2.02 million in April last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

This took the total number of visitors for the first four months of this year to 6,880,000 - only slightly ahead of the 6,876,000 total for January to April 2001.

In Yorkshire, where the tourist industry was devastated by the disease, the picture is comparable.

"It is slow in the international market, but domestically we are doing terribly well, with visitor figures approximately the same as those before foot-and-mouth," said a spokesman for the Yorkshire Tourist Board, in York.

"But all we need is a horrendously bad summer and things could be disastrous. It's walking a razor edge, as usual."

On the international scene, the industry has also suffered heavily in the aftermath of September 11 as well as foot-and-mouth.

"It is still an uphill struggle and we are still marketing abroad, although we have been concentrating on the domestic market," said the spokesman.

Jennifer Robson, president of the Northumbria Tourist Board and a member of the English Tourist Commission, said the North-East's tourist industry was picking up.

She said money for a national advertising and promotional drive, and the region's winning of a national award for short breaks, were helping.

She said: "Hopefully, we'll have a very strong year. I can't see any reason why we shouldn't."

The Office of National Statistics also revealed that in the year ending April 20, overseas visitors spent £10.615bn in the UK, against a figure of £12.597bn in the year ending April 2001.

The figures also showed that UK residents made 4.9 million trips abroad in April 2002, compared with 4.57 million in April 2001. In the first four months of this year, UK residents made 16.01 million trips overseas, compared with 15.81 million in January to April 2001.

In the year ending April 2002, UK residents spent £25.61bn on overseas trips, compared with £25.02bn in the year ending April 2001.