The Ministry of Defence closed its UFO special desk because of a 'severe downturn' in economies across the universe, newly released files show. The desk was closed in December 2009 following an apparent decrease in sightings of extraterrestrials at popular UK landmarks and seaside resorts in previous years.
Trips to planet Earth had become "too pricey", according to ex-Defence Minister, Bob Ainsworth. "We experienced a surge in alien visitations in the 80s and 90s, but the interplanetary holiday industry has become another victim of astronomical fuel prices that are now seemingly universal. The only visitors from outside our galaxy that can afford such trips are extremely hostile space warlords" he added.
The 25 files also include reports of a 'noticeable drop' in sales of novelty sponge globes, popular souvenirs with interstellar travellers, and detail the decision to close the MoD's dedicated 'Planet Earth - Mega Hot Deals' travel website and hotline.
Officials had predicted a backlash from shop owners and tour operators after closing the desk, but insisted that the more 'financially shrewd and well off' aliens are still likely to plan visits in the coming years, which could be enough to keep the industry alive.
In a statement delivered today, current MoD officials confirmed that the decision was 'purely economic', and that cut-price deals, some as high as 50%, being offered on Kepler 22b, an earth-like planet in the Cygnus Solar System, were just 'impossible to compete with'.