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Total Eclipse Tuesday, 24 August, 1999, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
South-West delivers eclipse verdict
The eclipse: Generated about 50m for the south-west
As some semblance of normality returns to Cornwall and south Devon, officials are beginning to count the profits, and the costs, of the eclipse.

Special report
Special report
11 August
An estimated 250,000 extra tourists flocked to the region for Wednesday's phenomenon - far fewer than the expected 500,000.

The area's eclipse planning co-ordinator, Gage Williams, blamed the disappointing visitor numbers on negative government publicity, which urged people to watch the event on television.

People had also been put off by fears of disruption ranging from traffic gridlock to anarchist riots and poor weather.

Deserted campsites

Tourist officials say the event has been a "resounding success".

Nigel Buckler, marketing manager for the West Country Tourist Board, told BBC News Online it was too early to tell exactly how much money had been generated.

But he said in a normal August week, there were 400,000 people in the region, spending a total of 80m.

An extra 250,000 tourists, spending at usual holiday levels, would generate an extra 50m.

Cornwall Tourist Board spokeswoman Teresa Timms told BBC News Online the event had been "brilliant" for hotel operators, with no vacancies whatsoever for the eclipse period.

The feared traffic jams did not materialise until after the event
In Torbay, Devon, dozens of people resorted to sleeping in their cars.

The only people who did have capacity were farmers and other entrepreneurs who set up temporary campsites especially for the eclipse.

Pennant Farm, in Cardinham near Bodmin, set up a temporary campsite for up to 1,500 people.

But they had only 35 bookings for eclipse night, and were down to six by Thursday morning.

Mrs Lobb, who runs the farm, blamed negative publicity for scaring tourists away.

She told BBC News Online it had been impossible to estimate the numbers expected to arrive, with over-optimistic reports reaching 4m.

"We are disappointed but we've covered our costs. We didn't lose any money. Mind you, we didn't make any either," she said.

Police bear brunt of cost

Staging such an event has also cost the region heavily with traffic and emergency service operations proving extremely expensive.

An "unqualified success" for the West Country Tourist Board
Devon and Cornwall Police bore the brunt of the costs. The government gave the force 500,000 for the event, but this is unlikely to have covered all the costs.

A spokesman said it was unlikely the force would know exactly how much it cost until the end of the year.

But he told BBC News Online the police were breathing a "sigh of relief" that the event passed off peacefully.

There had been few public order problems, and most New Age travellers and about a third of the tourists had left the area by Thursday.

Policing will finally return to usual levels at the weekend, following an expected "mass exodus" from the region, he said.

Winners and losers

Individual attractions in the area have been the biggest winners.

Pendennis Castle became extremely busy
Towns like Penzance, Falmouth and Newquay have been jam-packed - not only with visitors to the region, but also with locals wanting to join in and soak up the atmosphere.

Pendennis Castle in Falmouth and St Michael's Mount near Marazion have been extremely busy.

Shops in the region have also done well, after planning for the event as though it had been a military operation.

Sainsbury's Marsh Mills branch in Plymouth told BBC News Online it had traded "very, very well" with 45,000 shoppers during its peak day on Friday - the usual total for a week.

Spokeswoman Julie Dennis said tonnes of water, toilet rolls, tea and coffee and long-life milk had been sold with flowers and chocolates also popular among those staying with friends and relatives.

Festival washout

The main sector for whom the eclipse was not a general success was the festival and rave organisations.

But festivals suffered low attendances
The Lizard festival on the Lizard Peninsula in west Cornwall, which ended on Thursday, sold only 12,000 out of 20,000 tickets.

The Moonshadow 99 Eclipse Festival at Crafthole, near Whitsand Bay, due to run from Monday to Saturday, was called off on Thursday due to lack of ticket sales.

Festival spokeswoman Jane Osborne again blamed negative publicity.

"There was a build-up of negative publicity over a year about how busy it was going to be. How can you react to something like that?" she said.

The BBC's Sarah Ransome: "One campsite has gone into receivership"
See also:

11 Aug 99 | Total Eclipse
11 Aug 99 | Total Eclipse
24 Aug 99 | Total Eclipse
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