The British (tourists) are coming

The United States has become Britain's new low-cost vacation paradise, and as many as 1.5 million visitors are expected to cross the Atlantic this year, an increase of nearly 300 percent over five years.

During March, the US consulate here received as many as 2,800 visa applications a day; it tripled its staff and went on a seven-day week to handle the flood.

Many British vacationers go to Florida looking for sun, fun, food, and scenery at about half the prices they pay at home.

"British tourism has risen to the point where for the first time in history as many Britons will visit the United States as Americans visit Britain," the US consul general, Alan Gise, predicted. He expects to issue 1 million visas for the first time this year, compared with 302,000 in 1976.

Britain's strong currency helps make a US vacation one of the cheapest available. Travel officials estimate that two weeks in Miami Beach costs about

In London, hotel rooms start at about $60 a night, while a day's travel on the fare-by-distance subway would be about $7. With gasoline at $2.80 a US gallon, driving is no cheaper.

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