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Saturday, 9 June, 2001, 03:33 GMT 04:33 UK
Lake District footpaths re-open
Lake District
The Lake District needs revenue generated by visitors
Large parts of the Lake District fells are being re-opened this weekend for the first time since foot-and-mouth disease struck the area.

Tourism chiefs hope the move will give a boost to the area's ravaged economy, which is heavily dependent on visitors.

Since restrictions came into force, it is estimated that hotels and guest houses in the area have lost about 60% of their revenue.

Cumbria was one of the areas worst affected by foot-and-mouth, with more than 700 confirmed cases and many mass culls.

Some businesses, especially those connected with walking, are thought to have lost up to 90% of their trade.

Foot-and-mouth facts
Total number of confirmed foot-and-mouth cases in the UK 1,718
Four on Friday
3,241,000 animals slaughtered
40,000 animals awaiting slaughter
11,000 carcasses awaiting disposal
Although walkers will have access to more than half the high fells and footpaths, strict controls will remain in force.

Walkers will be made to use designated access points and disinfect their boots when entering or leaving the fells. A ban on dogs also remains.

Popular walking areas including Langdale and Borrowdale, the High Street and Helvellyn ranges, and the Coniston Fells are among those re-opening.

About 47,000 people are employed in the local tourism industry, and it is hoped the move will signal a revival in time to boost summer trade.

'Long-term effects'

"The effects have been very hard," said Cumbria Tourist Board spokesman Allan King.

"We see what is happening today as an important step to the return to normality.

"From the surveys we have done people have not abandoned us. They intend to return but they are waiting.

We are confident [walkers] will continue to have a responsible attitude

Chris Collier
Cumbria Tourist Board
"In terms of the economy the effects of this will last a long time. It will take time for people to rebuild."

Chris Collier, chief executive of the board, said: "It was the closure of the footpaths which caused the biggest impact on the tourism industry and we are delighted to see so many of the fells open again today."

Mr King said: "We still have to be very careful. There are still occasional outbreaks in Cumbria.

"All the openings have been agreed in full consultation with Maff and the National Farmers' Union.

"All the walkers have been tremendously patient and we are confident they will continue to have a responsible attitude."

Tourism slump

Any boost to the UK's flagging tourist trade cannot come too soon for many businesses.

A recent report found that the number of holidaymakers visiting the UK has slumped to the lowest level on record.

Just 719,000 overseas tourists visited the UK in April, 21% fewer than the same month a year ago, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Government officials have blamed the foot-and-mouth epidemic for much of the decline.

The figure, seasonally adjusted to take account of factors such as the timing of Easter, is the lowest in an ONS archive dating back to 1996.

Mountaineer and writer Sir Chris Bonington is set to preside over the formal re-opening of an area near Glenridding at the foot of Helvellyn on Saturday.

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