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Attacks Don't Dissuade NY'ers

Frankie Ling is only 14, but he's already planning a trip to London. He wandered down to the Barnes & Noble in his Brooklyn neighborhood a month ago, bought a guidebook with his own money and has been lobbying his parents to take the next big family vacation there. And Thursday's bombing on the London Underground hasn't changed his dreams.

"Even though there was a terrorist bombing, I know it was bad and everything, but I still want to go there," he said Friday. "That isn't going to change my opinion."

The teenager, who was in fifth grade when the World Trade Center (search) was destroyed, added: "We were attacked and we still live here. So I'm like, whatever, we'll still go."

Frankie was one of many New Yorkers who said the bombing in England would not change their minds about travel to London — especially after living through Sept. 11.

Meaghan McGee (search), who works in public relations in New York, is heading to Ireland this summer and is still planning a side trip to London with her husband.

"For the two of us, having lived through Sept. 11, it doesn't really phase us," she said. "I've gone on the subway this morning and of course it's in the back of my mind, looking around and being a little more cautious, but I would still keep my travel plans."

Michelle Celarier used to work downtown near the World Trade Center and was thrilled to recently land a job "where I'm not downtown and I'm not on a high floor." But her new position as a magazine editor also requires her to fly to London this month. Philosophically, she says, after Thursday's bombing, "it's unlikely it's going to happen again so soon."

Experts predicted the bombing would have limited impact on travel. "We really have not had many cancellations at all — a handful," said Sandy Hughes, vice president of travel services for AAA, which books 200,000 Americans to Europe annually.

Robert Whitley, president of the U.S. Tour Operators Association (search), whose members carry 11 million Americans on packages abroad each year, agreed that there had been "very few if any cancellations. Americans have gotten used to this as a way of life. They're not going to be bullied or scared. I liken it to March of 2004 — the bombing in Spain. Nothing, no disruption in business to Spain or Europe."

The Madrid bombing, which killed 191 people, affected tourism less than had been expected. From January to October 2004, 47.5 million tourists visited Spain, 2.5 percent more than the same period in 2003, according to Spain's Ministry of Tourism, Commerce and Industry.

But a few would-be visitors have changed plans. Michelle Leriche of Long Island was scheduled to fly to London on Saturday but decided to postpone her trip until August. Her airline and hotel rebooked her without any penalties.

"We are still very excited about our trip, however due to the recent events, I felt that I was not emotionally ready to make the trip," she said.

Western Carolina University, located in Cullowhee, N.C., announced on its Web site the cancellation of a student trip that had been scheduled to fly to England the day of the bombing. School officials did not return a call for comment Friday.

But Francesca Brody, a University of Pennsylvania student, still plans to spend her junior year at the London School of Economics, beginning this fall.

"I don't think it's worth changing plans that affect a year and into the future of my life because of this incident, which certainly is a tragedy," she said.

Catherine Forbes, daughter of Forbes magazine editor-in-chief Steve Forbes, the one-time presidential candidate, flies to London every three months. "I could not stop going," she said. "I wouldn't let the terrorists do that. After Sept. 11, the British stood by us hands down, more than any other country."

Some non-New Yorkers were also defiant. Chelsea Mills, director of a corporate training facility in Flint, Mich., is married to an Englishman and their child is due in November.

"We will take the baby there," she vowed. "I'm not going to let that stop me. ... I'm not going to hide in my house."

Laurel Janssen, who works in advertising, is vacationing in London with her sister later this month.

"Especially since we survived 9/11," she said, "we can't be boxed in by fear."

e Sun