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The BBC's Jackie Rowley
"Up to 95% of tourist attractions are open in Devon"
 real 56k

Saturday, 5 May, 2001, 19:04 GMT 20:04 UK
Countryside welcomes visitors back
Raymond Thomas
A Brecon Beacons reservoir is now open to visitors
Blue skies and re-opened attractions saw tourists return to the countryside for the first day of the May Bank Holiday weekend - but not in the numbers enjoyed last year.

The National Trust has re-opened a host of its most popular sites and local authorities are allowing walkers back onto long-closed footpaths, including four on Mount Snowdon.

Tourist industry leaders hope this will help kickstart the recovery needed to save 250,000 jobs threatened by the continuing foot-and-mouth crisis.

Foot-and-mouth facts
Total number of confirmed foot-and-mouth cases in the UK 1,561 - 4 by 1900 BST Saturday
2,450,000 animals have been slaughtered
112,000 animals awaiting slaughter
The English Tourism Council (ETC) has warned that England will need special aid to prevent the tourist industry losing 5bn this year and a further 3.5bn in the next two years.

The AA motoring organisation said roads were busy on Saturday, particularly routes to seaside resorts such as Brighton, Margate, Bournemouth and Weston-super-Mare which enjoyed a day of spring sunshine.

In the Midlands paths and attractions such as Dudley Zoo and Castle, closed for nearly 10 weeks, have re-opened to the delight of a steady flow of visitors.

In Northumberland, Hadrian's Wall remained closed but the Beamish Museum in County Durham is seeing trade return to "normal" according to a spokeswoman.

Many footpaths remain closed

But towns such as Porlock, on the edge of Exmoor in Somerset, where footpaths remain closed, are suffering.

Porlock Tourism Association chairman Cathy Powell, who runs a falconry centre, said: "There are very few people around. We have had hardly a trickle."

Hope, a baby white rhino, and his mum
Baby rhino Hope brings just that to a beleagured safari park
In Devon, one of the counties hardest hit by the disease, 80 footpaths have re-opened, giving access to 45% of the county's coastal paths.

Paths leading to the summit of Mount Snowdon, in Wales, have re-opened for the first time since 27 February though much of the Snowdonia National Park remains closed.

The National Trust has opened another 11 of its major properties for the bank holiday bringing its total of open attractions to 403.

This includes a World Heritage Site, the Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal near Ripon, Yorkshire.

New Hope

But caution dominates in Buckinghamshire, largely closed despite the absence of foot-and-mouth, and in Lincolnshire, not affected but with all 4,000 footpaths still closed.

One very new attraction in Worcestershire, is two-month-old Hope, the first white rhino to be born for nearly 30 years at the West Midland Safari and Leisure Park, near Bewdley.

Staff hope he will help the attraction recover after visitor figures fell by as much as 90%.

Carolyn Hoffe
Carolyn Hoffe's pet sheep were slaughtered in her living room
In Scotland, the owner of five pet sheep slaughtered under foot-and-mouth restrictions has dubbed agriculture officials "evil".

Carolyn Hoffe finally conceded defeat in her battle to save her Dutch Zwartbles sheep from the slaughter on Friday night after a judge ruled the Scottish Executive's culling programme should go ahead.

Following a brief stand-off at Mrs Hoffe's home in Glasserton, near Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway, the sheep were put to sleep by a vet and taken away in an army truck for burial.

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See also:

03 May 01 | UK
UK 'winning disease battle'
05 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Tourism 'devastated' by crisis
19 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Ad campaign to boost tourism
02 May 01 | UK
'No more pyres' for Devon
03 May 01 | Sci/Tech
UK beaches 'better than ever'
05 May 01 | UK
Shows blow hits farming
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