Foot-and-mouth hits countryside tourism

02 March 2001
Foot-and-mouth hits countryside tourism
The foot-and-mouth epidemic could have a drastic effect on rural tourism, both the English Tourism Council (ETC) and the Countryside Agency have warned. The ETC said in a statement: "The foot-and-mouth crisis is clearly beginning to have an effect on countryside tourism, but the immediate priority must be to end the current crisis as quickly as possible." It added: "February and March are comparatively quiet times for countryside tourism, but if the crisis were to continue until Easter and beyond this would obviously be a matter of concern." The ETC has issued advice to rural hotels and guesthouses on what to do if guests cancel their bookings as a result of the crisis. Countryside Agency chief executive Richard Wakeford said: "The knock-on effect is already showing in the closure of tourist attractions, and the cancellation of popular events and lost business in a whole range of rural enterprise." Tourism is worth £12b a year to the English countryside, the agency said, £9b of which is spent on day trips. It supports 340,000 jobs in rural England and underpins 25,000 mostly small businesses. Wakeford added: "If the Cheltenham Gold Cup is cancelled, it's not just the racing industry who will lose out but hundreds of other small businesses throughout Gloucestershire who benefit from the influx of high-spending visitors. "If people need to stay out of the countryside through the Easter holidays, the knock-on effect could damage the rural economy to the tune of £2b." Countryside around the UK has been closed to the public as a result of the outbreak. The National Trust has closed virtually all of its properties and the Forestry Commission has closed all its forests. On Dartmoor, all public land, footpaths and bridleways have been closed. Public access to most other National Parks has been suspended. Web links:English Tourism Council](http://www.englishtourism.org.uk/) [Countryside Agency
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