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Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
Will you visit the countryside this Easter?
Will you visit the countryside this Easter?
According to a survey published by NFU Countryside, almost two thirds of people who were planning a trip to rural areas have cancelled due to the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Some 66% of the 500 individuals questioned by the organisation which is affiliated to the National Farmers' Union, indicated that they had originally planned to take a countryside break over Easter. However, most ended up cancelling.

This is despite government efforts to convince potential visitors that the countryside is open for business over the holiday weekend.

Have recent events put you off visiting the countryside? Or do you feel that it's important to show support for struggling rural businesses such as shops, pubs and hotels?

This Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Those people who have been put off from coming to Cumbria by the foot-and-mouth epidemic have missed a real treat

Judy, England
I spent Easter weekend in the Lakes and thoroughly enjoyed all the attractions and walking in the sun on tarmac whilst enjoying the fresh, clean spring air surrounded by nodding daffodils. Those people who have been put off from coming to Cumbria by the foot-and-mouth epidemic have missed a real treat. I shall be back to see the bluebells later this month.
Judy, England

Blair must be off his head if he thinks the countryside is open for business once more. If seeing smouldering heaps of dead animal carcasses along with closed footpaths and idiotic riflemen shooting wildly at defenceless sheep is your bag then please set up your tent and enjoy the view!
Russell O, England

I visited Oban on the West coast of Scotland and thoroughly enjoyed it. I warmly recommend it as an all-weather destination with ease of access to Mull, Iona and Staffa. The people are friendly as well!
Kevin Hutchens, Scotland

Went to Snowdonia last week via the A5 and was annoyed to find roadside lay-bys and viewpoints closed off with tape. The countryside is not open for business. You can only drive through it from one town or village to another. My May holiday plans for the Highlands of Scotland and Skye are under constant review.
Chris Beaver, Staffs, England

I came across a National Trust notice informing me that all open countryside was closed

Peter Bond, England
On government advice that the countryside is open for business, I recently visited the Lake District. However, shortly after leaving my car, I came across a National Trust notice informing me that all open countryside was closed. Should I therefore assume the government actually means that all closed countryside is open?
Peter Bond, England

All paths to the countryside are closed in Buckinghamshire whether there are farm animals along them or not.
John Ley, High Wycombe, Bucks.

Over the past few weeks we have seen images of dead animals piled high to burn and others left to rot. Small lambs left to drown in mud filled fields because MAFF say they cannot be moved to an adjacent field full of fresh grass. Last night we saw a so called slaughterman armed with a rifle, taking pot shots at a flock of terrified sheep and lambs running desperately around a small field. I ask myself; "what is going on, why is this happening". A government minister explains; "We cannot vaccinate because we would lose our disease free status". But why do we need this 'disease free status', to this I have not heard an answer. It is my belief that we require this so that the cruel export of live animals can continue. Also if factory farms produce more dead animals than our flesh eating society needs, we can export it and make more money.
Charlie Bird, England

I do not believe the majority of people visit the countryside to walk through fields

Mark, UK
In reply to Sarah, I do not believe the majority of people visit the countryside to walk through fields. We go to visit tea rooms and see quaint houses and market places. We "look" at the countryside through the windows of the car! We park up in huge car parks and buy ice creams and pub lunches. We struggle with pushchairs up steep banks, we let our kids paddle in streams, we buy ornaments from gift shops, we do all this no more than 300yds from our cars. I will be visiting as usual.
Mark, UK

I have just listened to Mary Lynch on News 24 , asking us to try the countryside and see it's ok to visit. I did just that yesterday and it's fine if you don't mind the smell of dead animals, roads closed to move the same and wagons full of decaying carcasses.
Ashley Powell, England

I've just watched the sight on New Zealand prime time news of a British "marksman" chasing Welsh sheep around a paddock and making a hash of trying to end the lives of a couple of dozen sheep. If it wasn't so serious I would have likened it to a sketch from Monty Python. If you need to kill, do it quickly, those sheep would have been stressed to hell. Return to the UK countryside? Not with this joker and his wayward rifle running around.
Don, New Zealand

Why would I want to go into the countryside?

Dave Jones, Flintshire, Wales
Why are our authorities so full of double standards? A farmer would normally be prosecuted for not burying carcasses, but because the government agencies cannot keep up with their task it's not mentioned. A firearm cannot be discharged in a public place yet we now see a rifleman shooting panic stricken sheep in front of residential houses and towards a road and footpath, the police attend and ask residents to go indoors out of the line of fire, they don't stop the rifleman. The local authority that employed him said he was doing the best he could - are they also above the law? The RSPCA are 'considering' prosecution for causing unnecessary suffering to the sheep, they have no back-bone, I thought they existed to protect animals. Where now is the mighty voice of the animal rights groups? Our government, authorities, police are all looking the other way now and the animal welfare groups are not capable. Why would I want to go into the countryside, the images on TV News are distressing enough, why stand next to these events and witness them firsthand - I can assure you one thing at least I would face it, not like our authorities looking the other way.
Dave Jones, Flintshire, Wales

I have just watched the early morning BBC news on Saturday and I am appalled by the shooting of sheep with shotguns from long range by official foot and mouth culler in Monmouthshire. He shot at the sheep with lambs at their side and missed and the sheep are terrified. If the townies still believe that the country folk are barbarous for hunting foxes what on earth is going on now. This is despicable and cruel and proves this government is not in control and hasn't got a clue as to how to deal with this. Animal activists wake up to this and make a noise - please.
Jo P, England

Many organisations are pressing to have rural areas opened for public access. They are justifying this by urging landowners to carry out Risk Assessment. I would be very surprised if any assessment carried out into the possibility of spreading foot and mouth concluded that the likelihood of spreading the disease was less than that estimated for catching nvCJD. The risk of spreading is real, whatever peoples hardships. Farmers have been living with dwindling incomes for 10 years, not 6 weeks - is it worth the risk?
Mike, UK

WAKE UP to reality and support these facilities or they won't exist next year!

Geoff Evans, Wales
I live in a small village which has 3 businesses. An outdoor pursuits centre (employing dozens of local people), a Pub (which has had to lay off 8 staff) and a campsite (winner of the best in Wales 2001). All these businesses are in grave danger NOW. Some of your replies have asked for patience, these businesses will cease to be if visitors don't start to arrive in droves NOW. It is amazing to hear the complacency of most people, they think it is only the farmers that are affected. WAKE UP to reality and support these facilities or they won't exist next year!
Geoff Evans, Wales

Every weekend last year from April to September I went camping, not to visit the towns and villages but to get out into the countryside and walk or cycle. This year, it looks like the city is where I'll be spending my summer. The government state that the countryside is open but they do not seem to know what they are talking about, the majority of people that go to the country go for walking etc. not visiting the local tea rooms. Mr Blair needs to get his facts straight before broadcasting them to the nation.
Sarah, UK

Frankly, at current rates, the British countryside will go the way of British manufacturing industry. If the Government had not over-reacted in the first place, nor would visitors.
David Gatenby, Germany

I recently visited a tourist attraction here in Norfolk after John Prescott had made a visit to promote the open countryside, but after paying to enter I then found over half the grounds were closed because of a nearby farm! Yet another great British rip off!
Dave, UK

can we give vaccination further consideration?

Ruth, UK
On Good Friday we travelled from Blackburn, Lancashire to Kirkby Lonsdale by car. This is a lovely village on the outskirts of Cumbria and if we are to believe Mr. Blair should be 'Open for Business'. Indeed it was open for business in Kirkby Lonsdale - the shops and restaurants were more than pleased to see us but the public foot paths which led to the river Lune and the wonderful local scenery were closed! Please don't misunderstand me, I agree with that 100% but please don't insult my intelligence Mr. Blair by trying to tell me that it is business as usual in the countryside. With two children in the car we had a competition to see who could spot the most cows. We saw 20 during the whole round journey. Where are they? The only ray of sunlight that I found on our trip was that all the sheep and lambs that we saw appeared to be warm and dry and on good pastureland - unlike the poor unfortunates waiting to be put out of their misery on over-grazed mudland. Please can we give vaccination further consideration? After all what do we have to lose? No-one in Europe is going to want our meat anyway for at least the next 12 months.
Ruth, UK

I was planning to take my family to the area around Abergavenny until I saw the footage of the so called "marksman" chasing cull sheep round a field in Gilwern a few miles from there on the news tonight. The final straw was the un-named Monmouth Council representative defending this barbarism. Between them they must have lost Wales a mountain of tourist business including mine.
Tony Gale, UK

I sympathise with the plight of our farming community and have continued my personal policy of only buying British farm products where possible. However my wife and I see no point in visiting the countryside when local councils have closed all the footpaths even if they are nowhere near a farm. The problem is they closed them all and cannot be bothered with the administration required to review which paths are actually a problem. This is not only a council problem but also can be attributed to the Crown Estates and private estates. I am still waiting for my West Berkshire County Council to return to sanity.
Chris Franklin, UK

Why are so many of your contributors using this awful disease just to knock the Government. There is I believe a very balanced approach to the problems being taken by the Government. Go to the country, obey the signs and keep away from livestock seems simple and sound advice to me. Better than sitting at home moaning and groaning. How about some helpful suggestions instead of Blair knocking all the time. Save it for the local Conservative Club if it hasn't closed down due to lack of supporters.
Roger W, UK.

While Tony Blair is insisting that the countryside is open for business, he has got to realise that there are people who enjoy walking, who do not want to be walking on country roads (some of which are very narrow) among traffic. The majority of visitors to the Lake District and the Dales and Peak District and so forth, are walkers. I have cancelled my holidays to the Dales very reluctantly but we like to walk and we take our dog with us. Surely he realises that not everyone wants to be on shopping sprees when they go on holiday. He should be concentrating on helping those people who are losing out in these areas where many people cater for that kind of visitor, not going on about the countryside being open for business because it isn't.
Ann Jones, UK

People going away this Easter are just going to spread it

Anna Saxby, Hertfordshire, England
Although I'm only 12 I have very strong views on the foot and mouth crisis. I think Tony Blair was right to put off the elections, but it is nonsense to tell people to go back to the countryside. Because we should get it out of the way first. I know hotels, animal parks, B&Bs, etc are losing money because of this but the government should be doing something about that as well. And people going away this Easter are just going to spread it. And if they do I don't think he will be elected again because he has sent out the message that there is nothing to worry about, go to the countryside, spread the disease the farmers and people with the odd cloved hooved pet won't care. But it takes years to build up a good working farm, ask any farmer. And if people have them for pets, they get very attached to them. Which I'm sure you know if you have cats, dogs, rabbits, etc. And what I don't get is why we aren't using the vaccination.
Anna Saxby, Hertfordshire, England

After years of disasters within the British meat industry, there's not much protein left on the menu. Fish sales must be rocketing!
Dexter, UK

Don't bother going to the countryside at all. It's time we admitted that farming in this country, apart from organic farming and mass-scale farming has no future. Many farmers rely on subsidies to survive - it's time we removed those subsidies and let the free market decide the future of farming. Asking the nation to bail them out once again by paying for a sub-standard holiday simply isn't on.
Mike, UK

There are places open to the public over Easter, i.e. beaches, some country parks and a number of historic houses, not to mention pubs, sports centres and swimming pools.
Jacinta, UK

What in God's name gave the Monmouthshire Council the right to carry out what basically amounts to a sporting 'shoot' on the sheep in that field ... I am so appalled and angry I can hardly think straight while attempting to write this. It was simply barbaric. I just cannot believe what we saw, and please don't try and explain it away. There was no excuse for this behaviour - absolutely none!
Maz, UK

Perhaps now is a time to show solidarity towards our friends and relatives in the country

Edward Christie, Austria (UK)
Perhaps now is a time to show solidarity towards our friends and relatives in the country. I'm stuck in another country for the moment, but I'm prepared to donate money to farmers and to the rural tourist industry, and I think other people could do the same, even if it's a small amount.
Edward Christie, Austria (UK)

Why go to England for a holiday, when you can stand naked under Niagara Falls and have the same thing going for you?
Alan Pittman, Canada

I will not be going out into the countryside this Easter even though it is a long standing tradition in our family to go for a picnic on Easter Monday, whatever the weather. Most of my relatives live rurally in Northumberland and in my opinion it would be irresponsible for us to visit them. I simply do not understand how the Government can encourage movement of people into the country whilst this crisis continues. I was terribly distressed by a report on Radio 4 when a farmer told how he had been waiting three weeks for his sheep to be taken for slaughter, and how in the meantime they had started to lamb. As a result of publicity he had been 'put to the front of the queue' and his ewes are to be slaughtered tomorrow, some heavily pregnant, others with newborn lambs at foot. I wept with pain for these poor creatures. It is dreadful to think of lambs suffocating in their mother's womb which is what will happen when the ewes are slaughtered. I know we raise sheep for meat but no animal deserves to be treated in this way. If only we could do something to stop this barbarity.
Fiona Calder, Scotland

People do not visit Snowdonia for the pubs and the petrol stations!

Edwyn, N. Wales, UK
Here in Snowdonia road signs along the coast now read 'Wales Welcomes Visitors' - last week they read National Park Closed'. All the paths seem to be the same: shut. Why not have the signs read 'Please park, pay & leave us alone? People do not visit Snowdonia for the pubs and the petrol stations!
Edwyn, N. Wales, UK

We have just returned from a week in the Lakes and although we did find enough to do it proved to be quite an expensive week as we visited a number of open attractions, all costing money for a family of four. We normally entertain our active boys by walking to a certain place or fell, having a sandwich (homemade) bribing the boys with an ice cream to carry on and then catching the bus back to our start point. This was not possible this time and road walking while possible did not hold the same attractions, also the dog suffered with sore feet. The country side is not open while footpaths remain closed, and yes you can visit but be warned it is costly.
Judy, UK

Take your pick, can I go, can't I go? Why take the risk!

Ian, UK
Take your pick, can I go, can't I go? Why take the risk! They said BSE could not be caught by humans, and then they were proved wrong. If the government says everything will be alright, who gets the blame when it's proved that opening up the countryside, people were moving the virus into so called foot-and-mouth free areas? I bet it won't be the politicians! The poor old public, farmers, and the transportation firms will all get the blame.
Ian, UK

It seems that many in the urban areas of the U.K. have a genuine disdain for those living in rural areas. When I visited your country, I found those living in the countryside to be courteous and welcoming to tourists. If I had the money for airfare, I'd be up in the countryside in a minute, walking trails or no. Good Luck!
Ted, USA

Garry S has hit the nail on the head. I live in Japan, which is notoriously expensive, yet I can easily find a hotel for anywhere between 10 to 30 a night without a reservation. A clean hotel, that is, with good food and clean sheets. Imagine the shock I had when I went to the outskirts of Birmingham recently and could only find one manky b&b charging 60 a night. The breakfast was rancid too. Get real. I feel ashamed when Japanese colleagues return from Britain with their horror stories of British hospitality and catering.
S Fuller, Japan

British Airways have been very uncooperative, and downright unhelpful

Paul W, US
Our family is still planning an early June visit, for two weeks. We do feel, based on many comments, that we might be intruders, carriers, and unwelcome to the farm people who have been unimaginably affected by FMD. If we had booked for Easter period, we would have cancelled. Keeping fingers crossed for June. British Airways has been very uncooperative, and downright unhelpful, in helping us in any way with possible alternate flights. They are a nightmare in themselves!
Paul W, US

Tony Blair has appeared on Canadian TV telling us that Britain is "open for business". My husband and I are leaving for Britain in two weeks and we have been unable to buy a Great British Heritage Pass as they are not being sold at present because of the foot and mouth epidemic. As 80% of the approximately 600 sites are now open, could someone please tell me why the passes have been withdrawn. I feel cheated!
Jan Donaldson, Canada

My cousin in Cumbria tells me that life there is almost unbearable at the moment. Everywhere you go there is nothing but the stench of the pyres. It doesn't sound like much fun to me. Although I will be keeping an eye out for discount flights to the UK.
Michael Day, USA

The only thing that is likely to spoil my Easter Holiday, is the sight of so many Cabinet Ministers on television trying to jolly us along. Get them out of our hair!
Simon Hooker, England

Of course I will be visiting the countryside this Easter. I can't go fox hunting in Highgate!
Henry Porter-Smythe, London, UK

Well, the people who suggest buying British products must be mad. Overpriced and bad quality. Maybe this crisis shows them that they can't do whatever they want.
Wolfie, England

When will the tourist industry realise that they are largely dependent on farming?

Jan, England
When will the tourist industry realise that they are largely dependent on farming? Who keeps the grass and hedgerows trimmed? Who puts those cute animals in the fields? Who manages the woodland? If the countryside is not used for farming it will either become a wilderness or be 'developed' for other purposes which may not be so amenable to people wandering around on their land.
Jan, England

Sorry, but it is not foot and mouth that is the problem with tourism in this country. It is the cost of everything. Hotels charging upwards of 40 a night per person, restaurants charging 30 for a 2 course meal, petrol the highest in Europe, expensive and dirty and irregular trains. I can have a nice 2 week holiday in sunny Spain for the price of a long weekend in London. Get real Britain. Loss of tourism has nothing to do with foot and mouth, we are just overpriced and under quality.
Garry S, Scotland

Yes, the country is open for business, but not pleasure! Save your money, discover the delights of your local roads and pubs.
Martin, UK

We're taking this opportunity to visit Hadrian's Wall as the main attractions are all open. Let's face facts - how many of us are really going to WALK all that much, especially with a 3-year-old and a baby?
Sarah Oates, Scotland

8 degrees in Devon or 22 in Barcelona? 49 air return or 110 on unreliable and increasingly expensive trains? The wettest winter since 1766 or sunshine? Value for money considering the exchange rate? I have heard of businesses complaining about their lack of customers but I have yet to hear one of them say they are trying to increase demand by lowering price.
Dan Belik, London

An Easter break in Britain? No chance

John, UK
An Easter break in Britain? No chance. I have just read Ann of the UK's comments. Why should I buy British meat products that are ridden with BSE, E-Coli, and salmonella? The quality of British farm produce is at an all time low.
John, UK

We have been following your news and praying for your country. However- how can your prime minister say it is safe to come and visit your country when it is now being said that people have transmitted the disease to other parts of the country? Does he not think that we could bring the disease back to the States? I visited your country last spring and I loved it, I will be back someday soon when the risk of transmitting the disease is no longer there.
Laurie Buchner, USA

I could not help but observe the disinfectant mats in and around the New Forest, which would be a popular tourist, walking area. Two points: 1. Many were bone dry. 2. The more important point, they were not big enough for lorries or tractors, whose tyres can be quite large. A simple mathematical calculation can confirm this. The mats were about 8 or 9 feet long - fine for the average car tyres but not lorries. So if this is the situation nation-wide, no wonder there is still some spread.
P M Davies, Endgland

As we live very close to Whipsnade Wildlife Park, local rumour has it that if the park doesn't open shortly, it will have to close permanently, with the loss of a unique collection of animals.
Phil Wood, UK

We'll be out and about in the Welsh borders this weekend. I don't expect it to be too cluttered with MPs though!
Gary Dale, England

Leave the countryside to recover

Darren, UK
We're off to Devon over the Easter period, admittedly we won't be able to go walking on the moors, but there is so much more to do than just walking. The fishing harbours of Devon and Cornwall are truly delightful, with plenty to see and do. Leave the countryside to recover, there's plenty to do and see elsewhere in the UK.
Darren, UK

I live Mid-Wales, disease free at the moment. I want it to stay that way. I'm glad that footpaths are closed and people are being discouraged from visiting the countryside. With less people crossing from infected areas into clean ones there is a chance that this epidemic will be over sooner rather than later. Then the countryside as a WHOLE will welcome tourists and visitors back. All that is being asked is that people exercise a little patience and compassion for those in the farming communities.
Megan M. Thomas, Wales, UK

I have no choice as I live in a small ex-market town in Herefordshire, already a pocket of deprivation. The effect has been devastating with nearly half the high street shops now closed. Everyone living here has been effected. Our only tourist attraction was the Downs and the Common, now we can't even walk on it. A lot of it has been scare-mongering as many of the animals which have been killed have been healthy but the compensation packages offered have been too good for the struggling farmers to say no too. I don't know how this town will ever recover from this.
Sheenagh, UK

Lets keep the countryside shut until we are sure that this disease has been totally eradicated.

Tom, UK
I live in East Yorkshire, which thankfully has not been touched by foot-and-mouth so far. The area is one of the largest pig producers in the country. Only last week there was an outbreak in Whitby, North Yorkshire. I think it is totally irresponsible of this government to try to tempt people back into the countryside while there is still even the slightest chance that the disease could spread further. Lets keep the countryside shut until we are sure that this disease has been totally eradicated.
Tom, UK

We in the UK, and probably throughout Europe, will have to rethink agriculture. The losses through the drop in tourism are far greater than the losses to the farmers. Agriculture is a minor industry compared to tourism and this fact is only now being appreciated. The slaughter policy for animals is so that we can export them in future. But if by slaughtering animals we can no longer import tourists then the logical conclusion maybe to abandon the livestock industry. The animal rights groups have always said that it is cruel to transport live animals over big distances and that we should only be exporting dead/processed meat.
Tony Shaw, UK

If an oil tanker spilled its load all over the beaches of, say, Benidorm, and all the beaches were closed for the summer how impressed would you be if the Spanish government urged you to go anyway to support the local businesses?
Rick, UK

I have two short holidays planned in summer - Derbyshire and Isle of Wight. I have no intention of cancelling and if I can't walk as widely as I would wish I'll find something else to do. People who want to support farmers should make sure that they buy food that is sourced in the UK - find out where your nearest farmers market is and go and support them!
Anne, UK

The UK is not open for business unless "business" means only spending your money in pubs and shops.

Chris, USA
We just returned from an 11-day visit to the UK where we spent a week in Cornwall. It was disappointing not to be able to visit prehistoric sites, walk the coastal footpaths, and visit the moors. Despite what Tony Blair had to say in his visit to the US, the UK is not open for business unless "business" means only spending your money in pubs and shops. Tourists are often criticised for visiting only the top sites, but when we tried to support the smaller rural areas, it wasn't possible.
Chris, USA

We're going to London for the weekend! Ministers keep telling us that "attractions" are open in the countryside; unfortunately we just wanted to walk, and as many of the comments already posted here demonstrate, pathways are not open in many areas.
Graham, UK

My partner has a caravan just outside the outbreak in SW Scotland. We have been asked not to visit until further notice. This seems like sensible advice, as most people will travel through an infected area to get there. However, we would normally have spent 4 or 5 weekends there by now and the whole of the Easter holiday. Everyone on the site has refrained from visiting since the site opened on 1 March and we still have no indication of when we will be allowed back. The loss of revenue to the local community must be quite large. Local rates and rents still need to be paid though.
Rod Smith, UK

The Lakes at this time of year are hard to resist

Fredericka, England
I would like to pass on just one message from hundreds received at the Langdale Estate in the English Lake District...'My husband and I stayed on the Estate last week and had a great time. Indeed we did find alternative things to do and are looking forward to coming back. We are keen hill walkers and we did wonder what we would do when the fells were shut, however, we managed to occupy ourselves very well - including a good road test of lots of beer!' The Lakes at this time of year are hard to resist...with spring in the air and the scenery as breathtaking as usual.
Fredericka, England

Is it not madness to go into the countryside when farmers cannot even move dying lambs in fields for the risk of spreading the disease? Are we trying to mitigate a 100% cull?
Beverley, UK

Why not? I'm not a four-legged farm animal and I can't ever remember eating pigswill, so presumably I should be immune to food-and-mouth disease.
M. M. Zaman, UK in US

A look at the tourist board website will show you that there is still lots to see and do

Claire, UK
I am off to Somerset on Friday for my holiday, staying on a farm. I have planned plenty of things to do, like going to the beach, visiting Cheddar caves, pubs and restaurants. There's no reason for people to stay away, a look at the tourist board website will show you that there is still lots to see and do.
Claire, UK

I reject those comments saying that I should take my holiday in the countryside at this time purely to boost the local economy and tourism. The countryside is effectively closed and so what is there to entice anyone. Simply asking people to spend hundreds of pounds for a holiday spent in tea rooms and walking tarmac roads is a bit patronising to those people like myself who have spent 50 plus walking holidays in the countryside in the last decade and spent thousands of pounds boosting tourism. Thank you, but I will stay away from the country until this infringement of my right to roam footpaths, which go nowhere near farms, is relaxed.
Chris Stanbury, UK

The whole point of being there is to go walking

Doreen, UK
We will definitely NOT be visiting the countryside this Easter. The whole point of being there is to go walking, not to sit in some overpriced, dreary, second rate cafe all day. The tourist industry has had its own way for too long. They are greedy, they treat tourists with derision and contempt and all they want is their money.
Doreen, UK

We've got no fuel to go anywhere, no foreign currency to go anywhere, BUT we do have experts on F&M who are coming to assist you, so take heart!
Glenda, Zimbabwe

I live in the country but find myself staying at home not only because of the obvious risks associated with foot-and-mouth disease but also because of the far more unpleasant risk of running into Blair or one of his cronies on "Open For Business" spin exercise. It is plain to everyone that Blair's agenda isn't to promote the countryside but to try and pretend everything is fine so that he can cut and run in June - nearly a year earlier than he needs to call an election. His cynical and distasteful approach will be punished at the ballot box.
Adrian Lee, UK

I've just spent the last weekend in the Lake District and cycled around the Hawkshead area. The Lakes are as beautiful as ever with daffodils coming into bloom - and the hotels need us!
Alan, UK

I've just checked with my local council. Some footpaths will be open, including those along the riverbank. But I have been told I must keep my dogs on a short lead. There are no farm animals along the river. How can I possibly keep 3 dogs on leads in an area where they normally run in and out of the river? I'd be dragged into the river in no time flat. I shall NOT be going into the countryside this weekend.
Jon Buck, UK

Now is a good time for visiting as places are not overcrowded and some are not even charging entrance fees

Claire, England
I have just come back from a week long holiday in north Wales. Contrary to Mr Blair's comments, the countryside there is closed even though there were no cases in the area. Although disappointed not to be able to walk in the countryside, plenty of places were open, including castles, museums, slate and copper mines, etc, some in countryside locations. In fact, now is a good time for visiting as places are not overcrowded and some are not even charging entrance fees. So go on, take that holiday, but be responsible.
Claire, England

I'm off to the Brecon Beacons on Sunday 15th. I feel very sorry for the people affected, but surely by staying away I would be helping to compound the financial misery felt by the farm we are going to stay on? We will be very careful, the proprietors will be very careful and all will be well. These people diversified into holiday cottages because the farm was not paying; now they are losing that side of the business too. What next Mr. Blair? Please tell me as you seem to know all the answers.
Nicola, Northants

The bottom line is that most of the open countryside in this country, is closed

Kevin Hanney, England
I have recently cancelled a holiday in Cornwall because almost all of the countryside is out of bounds. I do not want to walk along tarmac roads and spend my time shopping. There is a massive conflict of interest between the farming community and the tourist trade. The government knows that the tourist trade brings in more income and is beginning to favour the tourist trade. The bottom line is that most of the open countryside in this country, is closed. The government know that. It is the government's responsibility to control this foot-and-mouth situation and they have failed both the farming and tourist trade massively.
Kevin Hanney, England

We're off surfing in Devon. There's been nasty stuff in the sea for ages, but hopefully not diseased sheep.
Simon, UK

It's better value to go abroad these days!

Andy Harrison, UK
I'll visit the country providing the weather improves and the prices for B&B's, hotels and eating out go down. It's better value to go abroad these days!
Andy Harrison, UK

Its not so much the foot-and-mouth that's stopping me, it's the soaking wet, cold, miserable, unpredictable and lousy weather
Mike Allan, UK

I don't know where Andrew Cover of the UK has been for him to label the British countryside as overpriced, twee and poor-quality. My experience does not match this at all, and the truly charming villages, fishing coves, farm shops and restaurants I have visited will be the ones to suffer during the current mass panic. We are holidaying in the West Country in June, and refuse to cancel and contribute to the unnecessary hardship experienced by the warm and welcoming people there. So what if some paths and tracks are closed? They will still be there next time, and meanwhile we can still enjoy a relaxing week away from work and London traffic.
Simon Feegrade, England

Please, government cut the spin and let's have some continuity

Phil W, UK
No, because I cannot walk in the countryside which is right outside my front door. There is no livestock there, but the council signs say closed. Many attractions will however be open in the West Country, and good luck to them, and the people who visit them. However, please, government cut the spin and let's have some continuity. I cannot walk the field behind my house. It's closed, but people/animals can be transported across the country to attend the Grand National and risk spreading the virus. It just doesn't make any sense.
Phil W, UK

Why anybody would want to come to this country is beyond me. I have visitors from the USA staying with me at the moment and all they have heard from the media since they arrived is how dirty and unhealthy this country is. First it was F&M, then TB and dirty hospitals. It's going to take all my strength to stop them from heading straight back to Heathrow. When the UK gets its act together I think we should encourage visitors back, but not until then. Lets face it; the weather isn't a great help either.
Steve, England

Cornwall for Easter it will be for me. I will enjoy myself on the coast and avoid farmland. No problem. Can't wait.
Volker D., England (ex Germany)

I feel sorry for the farmers and locals though to have to live with such an incompetent authority.

Thomas Heinz, UK, Ex-Germany
We used to like holidays in Britain, but since the decline in transport we have stopped travelling in Britain. The food-and-mouth crisis has only added to this "turn off". There is one thing the British government has to realise is that if they neglect a country they will lose a lot of money. I feel sorry for the farmers and locals though to have to live with such an incompetent authority.
Thomas Heinz, UK, Ex-Germany

Recent outbreaks in previously unaffected areas have been attributed to infection being spread by people and cars. Surely it must seem unfair to farmers to advertise Britain as 'open for business' until the disease is brought under control.
Lu Hersey, England

1) Number of F&M cases in Hants and Dorset - nil. 2) Number of footpaths open in Hants and Dorset - nil. 3) Number of Prime Ministers saying that the countryside is open for tourist business - One. 4) Number of Prime Ministers that can't cope with a crisis - one. And don't we know it.
Chris Klein, England

People need to stay away until this disease is eradicated fully.

Lucy, UK
I live in the heart of the current foot-and-mouth crisis, about 3 miles away from Great Orton. If there are any visitors planning on coming to Cumbria for Easter can I please ask them to think again. I sympathise with the tourist industry, but people need to stay away until this disease is eradicated fully. I can't see how they will get the disease under control with people roaming all over the place. We must take all precautions possible to try and stop the devastation. I read in the local paper today that 100 footpaths would now be opened in Cumbria for the Easter weekend. Can I suggest visiting areas like Blackpool, Edinburgh etc until this nightmare is over.
Lucy, UK

No, because it'll be raining as always! But we hope to take our usual two farm holidays this summer. Bevis, if you're reading this, I hope Foel Farm is OK.
Guy Chapman, UK

Yes, I will be visiting the countryside when I am next in the UK, in June. I will call up in advance and find out what is open and then plan accordingly. Of course not everything will be open although hopefully the disease will be under control by then. I want to support the tourist industry and the livelihood of people out there as much as possible and I would urge others to consider doing the same.
Jasmine, Texas, USA

Why is it that people think they have a God given right to visit the countryside?

Jonathan Perree, Russia
Why is it that people think they have a God given right to visit the countryside? It is referred to time and again as if it was some kind of amusement park there for the benefit of people to get some fresh air. Tony Blair might say the countryside is open - that is what he wants people to believe but he cannot afford to face the fact the country is in the grip of a crisis. It's real and it's shocking.
Jonathan Perree, Russia

The hill-walkers and mountain-climbers who are cancelling their visits en masse will only have themselves to blame if, on return to normality, there's no pubs, shops, restaurants, guest houses, etc to make their hiking trip more pleasant. Now's the time to put selfish concerns aside and concentrate on supporting our rural trade during this difficult time.
Debbie Wilmot, UK

Come on, get real. I agree with supporting the struggling businesses but it's not much of a holiday if all you can do is stick to roads. Get a grip on the crisis Tony - it's about time you actually led rather than spinning all the time.
Karl Peters, UK

We cancelled our summer holiday to Yorkshire on the news of F&M, and countryside hotels being closed.
Hans Erren, The Netherlands

Normally it's mountain walking in Scotland for Easter, but this year we're off to Tenerife. It has a 3700m-high volcano in the middle which should be fun to climb. Rural businesses have my sympathy, but asking me to go to the Lakes, Snowdonia or Scotland and either just sit in a pub or walk along the roads is quite ridiculous. My limited holiday time is my most valuable thing.
Phil, UK

Unless you are into shopping big style I would stay at home

Linda Jones, Buxton, England
I live in Buxton, Derbyshire and we have had only one case of foot-and-mouth. However every foot and cycle path is closed, so unless you are into shopping big style I would stay at home.
Linda Jones, Buxton, England

I stopped visiting the UK countryside after getting fed up with the overpriced, poor quality, twee cream tea culture of it all. Maybe this crisis will force those countryside businesses that remain in business to up the quality and service offered and keep the prices out of the rip-off range.
Andrew Cover, UK

I'll be running a country-show in Oxfordshire over the Easter weekend. Whether anyone will come is still a subject of much debate. We don't expect this one to be a big profit-maker.
Pete Morgan-Lucas, Wiltshire, UK

While I am not planning a trip to the UK during Easter, I have planned one to England in July, and I will not cancel. While I recognise that some areas may still be off limits even in July, your country offers such an unlimited variety of culture and entertainment that one could not possibly visit every site on one vacation. I am confident that those areas which are open to the public in July will fully occupy our three weeks in your fine country.
Paul Rossi, USA

All the major parks and paths are still closed in Surrey and Hampshire. I'm off to France.
Andy Brown, UK

I have been planning my Cornish garden tour since January, and although I believe the UK has some challenges to deal with, I have every intention of taking my flight, and fully enjoying the gardens of Cornwall. Being able to access BBC News Online, it would appear there are adequate measures in place to contain the disease. UK residents should get out there and support their local tourist related business, wherever possible. See you soon!
Barbie, Canada

Attractions cost a lot of money

Joe, UK
The Government Ministers are kidding themselves on by parading around for a couple of hours if they think that convinces the great British public that everything in the garden is fine. They junket all the time to exotic locations but to the average family, their holiday is the one break of the year and if you go to the countryside and can't let your kids enjoy it, let your dogs have a run and have to avoid virtually everything on 4 legs or 2 legs come to that, what's the point? It's no good saying that most attractions are open. Attractions cost a lot of money which a fair number of people may not be able to afford.
Joe, UK

Govt position 1: People should visit the countryside. Govt position 2: The latest outbreaks not near previous outbreaks have been caused by transmission on people or vehicles. Confused messages:- I think so.
Richard, UK

Please consider coming to the Scottish Highlands for your Spring break. We have been officially designated as a Provisionally Free Area, and many of the most popular walking and climbing areas have been re-opened to public access. Magnificent scenery, good food, friendly people, and very reasonable priced accommodation is available. What are you waiting for? For more information, take a look at www.walking and
Brian Murphy, Scotland

Blair and Hague, or should it be "Blur and Vague!" Everybody knows the countryside is closed no matter what else may be said. I live in Somerset and I can confirm it is closed, no two ways about it. The Goverment is merely trying to fool the public into thinking things are better than they really are, its an attempt to soften the blow for the tourism industry who, like the farmers have suffered badly at the Governments mishandling of this crisis. Too little, too late and still they don't get it right.
Len Martin, UK

The Government keeps telling me that the countryside is open but the South-West Way Association tells me that all 630 miles of the SW Way are closed! Who is telling the truth? Am I just being "panicked" into cancelling my holiday?
Dominic Boddington, UK

I live in one of the most beautiful and unspoiled parts of Cumbria, but today I would have been happy to be anywhere else. Today we had a "pre-emptive cull" of sheep on the land near our house. Which means that healthy sheep and their lambs were slaughtered and piled in a stinking heap in a pen near my neighbour's house. The farmer, whose healthy cows were slaughtered yesterday, said he had no tears left. My neighbour was inconsolable. And the Army Liaison Officer" who had bitten his lips until they bled, said that he would do his best to remove the carcasses tomorrow. Is this what Tony and his pals mean when they say everything is under control?
Jackie Perry, UK

I will not be going into the countryside this Easter, because the Government have changed there minds about being able to and not being able to. Firstly, they gave the message that you should not go out into the countryside. Now, they are saying that you should go out into the countryside and its perfectly safe, but with more foot-and-mouth cases occurring I know that I will be definitely staying at home this Easter!
Philippa, Leicester

I'm going abroad. Poor Mr Blair is trying his best to convince us that it's safe to go to the countryside, but it really isn't. It's a pity that the farmers have brought down the very important tourist industry along with their own already ailing one.
Barry, UK

I live in the countryside and I'm finding it extremely difficult to find anything to do at the weekend. If the countryside's open you could have fooled me. All the footpaths are closed so there's nowhere to walk, unless you fancy traipsing along country lanes. If people want to go out for the day they might as well go shopping in town and save themselves the price of the petrol.
Matt, UK

Please consider all those wonderful people who make a stay in the countryside so enjoyable

Christine, Scotland
Please consider all those wonderful people who make a stay in the countryside so enjoyable. So, you can't walk over the moors, but it's nothing compared to losing your livelihood. It's worth remembering that if you don't support out tourist industry now, your choice will be limited in the future. Do we really want to see village shops/ b&b's/ restaurants boarded up? We're off to the Peak District knowing we will be limited but giving what little support we can this Easter.
Christine, Scotland, Scotland

It is now time to stop the killing; vaccinate all livestock and open the countryside properly. I certainly will not be going anywhere until I can walk unhindered and without the risk of coming across a field full of rotting carcasses. As for my hard earned money I will spend it in my local pubs.
Roger Jackson, England

Unfortunately I was meant to be returning home for my daughter's christening at our old Parish Church; but our in-laws live on a farm just outside the new cases in Hownam. Their neighbours have lost all their animals, and so to protect their bulls we've had to cancel. If the outbreak had been restricted to Dumfries and Galloway then we would still have gone; unfortunately this is a bit too close to home. The godparents are having tremendous difficulty trying to cancel their plane tickets though.
Neil, UK

I live in rural Somerset, and our neighbouring market town, like many others in the area which regularly attracts visitors from far afield, is still alive and thriving. If you are a "cream tea in a pleasant location" person, there really is no reason why would should not visit the area. If, like myself, you prefer to take your countryside as nature intended it, by walking through its unspoilt hills and valleys, you will be greatly disappointed. With only a single case reported in Somerset, and that was stamped out in the very early days of the crisis, all footpaths remain closed. Isn't it time that local businesses started to put pressure on the councils to open up at least some of the popular routes? With the appropriate controls, of course.
Jim, Somerset, UK

Wait until next year when everything is back to normal

Lee, UK
I have just returned from a holiday in the Lake District with my family and I would just like to say that regardless of what the Government is trying to tell you, the countryside is NOT open! On one particular day when we were out driving there were roads closing before our very eyes to the point we were terrified of being stuck in an exclusion zone! My advice to all and sundry is wait until next year when everything is back to normal and in the meantime leave the farmers alone.
Lee, UK

Instead of cancelling, why don't people ring up first to check what is open and what is inaccessible in the area they plan to visit? We promised to take our son to the zoo, but thought it would be closed due to foot-and-mouth, but when we rang up we found out it actually reopened last week.
Helen, UK

We are keen walkers and have two dogs. We would ordinarily be organising trips to the countryside at weekends/ Easter, but for us, there's no point if the footpaths are closed.
Ron Medland, England

Better a restricted visit than seeing people go out of business

Helen Jenkins, Wales, UK
My husband and I were planning to cancel our visit to the Lakes but now we are going to support our tourist industry. We may not be able to do all that we wanted to do but better a restricted visit than seeing people go out of business and worse, feeling like lepers.
Helen Jenkins, Wales, UK

Myself and around 20 climbers were planning our annual trip to climb in Cornwall. This trip has happened every year at Easter and is a big boost to the campsite that we visit. Unfortunately this year we have had to cancel this trip due to foot-and-mouth. The paths to most of the cliffs are closed and there is very little climbing available. Unfortunately we cannot practice our sport easily now and all of our planned trips have had to be cancelled. Sorry tourist industry, we'd love to come but until we are allowed to climb we're going to have to stay at home.
Malcolm Martin, England

Not in the slightest! Our booking on a non-working farm in Cornwall is fine, so long as we don't tramp over the fields. Access to both north and south coasts is unrestricted, the Eden project and most kiddie-friendly attractions are up and running. No problem!
Andy Millward, UK

I endured a holiday in Wales the week before last and have to say the countryside is most definitely not open for business!! It's fine if you're happy to drive around admiring the scenery through a car windscreen, but you can't go walking anywhere and all the tourist attractions, e.g. castles, gardens, abbeys, mines etc, are closed due to foot and mouth. There was nothing to do except wander round the shops (which you can do at home) and I honestly wish we had cancelled the holiday. The whole sorry episode was frustrating, disappointing and stressful, not to mention a waste of money. Don't go!!!
Sally Jones, England

I'll be staying in town this Easter

John B, UK
I was hoping to visit the countryside, but it is definitely not open as normal, whatever Phoney Tony may like to think. I visited friends in the New Forest at the weekend and found such ludicrous controls in place I had trouble believing it. On entering the forest I found that almost every lay-by was closed. There were disinfectant mats across the road although they were completely dry. How can someone stopping in a lay-by to read their map spread foot-and-mouth any more than someone stopping at the roadside and taking a stroll? I'll be staying in town this Easter, and if anyone wants to visit the countryside for anything more than a drive I suspect they will be disappointed.
John B, UK

I live in Cornwall and can see first hand the effects of the foot-and-mouth situation. I will be doing what I can to support local tourism this Easter by visiting local attractions. We will, of course, be following any local precautions currently in place. I would encourage everybody to do the same over Easter and beyond, in the hope that this will help keep rural business afloat.
Richard, UK

Yes! We will be camping at the Thetford Forest. We just phoned and they said it's open to the public.
A. Parks, England

Put it this way - I saw Tony Blair on the news, covered head to toe in protective, bright yellow clothing, wearing a safety helmet, imploring the British public to return to the countryside because it was safe. Did he really think that it was going to convince us that all is well?
Kate Lovegrove, UK

The British tourist and hospitality industry needs people to survive so go out and have fun

Dorothy, UK
If one follows the guidelines, there is absolutely no reason to cancel any plans to visit the countryside this Easter. People are being panicked by reports in the media. The British tourist and hospitality industry needs people to survive so go out and have fun. Just follow the local guidelines.
Dorothy, UK

It still seems that central and local government are still divided on opinion. Central government tells us it's okay to go into the countryside. Many local councils on the other hand still maintain that it is not so and that footpaths etc. should remain shut. One would have thought that being so far into the crisis would have brought better co-ordination of policy.
Rob Court, UK

When the main reason that you go to the countryside is to go walking, then what point is there in going at the minute? With the majority of footpaths closed and a risk of transferring the disease to farms and animals back home then surely it is better to wait until the outbreak is over and then return to the countryside.
Andy, UK

I work in Bradford and the local paper this weekend was full of Mr Blair visiting Haworth - the Bronte Village - in order to promote the countryside as being open. The headline on the same local paper today states that the foot-and-mouth crisis is deepening. Who do we believe?
Dave, UK

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