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HONDURAS -- UP AND RUNNING AGAIN

Hurricane-battered Honduras has issued an unusual New Year's invitation that goes like this: Yes, the country suffered flooding and mudslides that killed 7,000, left more than a million people homeless, and ruined the agricultural economy. But most tourist attractions were not damaged, and if ever there was a time that we could use your dollars, this is it.

In a news release, tourism minister Norman Garcia called Honduras a special place to visit before Hurricane Mitch struck in October -- "and it is just as special now. Airports, roads, resorts, hotels, and tour companies are ready to receive visitors. Dive operations are up and ready. The famous beaches and bays of northern Honduras have been cleaned up."

The minister said visitors also would have the satisfaction of knowing that every dollar spent in Honduras was helping the nation get back on its feet. In another twist, Garcia said the country was planning to organize tours for visitors who want to see the damage.

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