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Monday, 28 January, 2002, 12:53 GMT
Countryside 'open for business'
Boating at Lake Windermere
Events across the UK will try to woo tourists
The countryside is open for business according to a national campaign aimed at attracting visitors back, in the wake of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Organisations including the National Trust and the National Farmers' Union are among those co-ordinating efforts to woo back tourists now the UK is free of the disease.


The British countryside is now open for business and needs your support

Tim Bennett, National Farmers Union
The rural tourist industry was hard hit by the outbreak which led to months of travel restrictions in affected areas.

The launch of the "Your Countryside, You're Welcome" campaign comes as Prince Charles is to make a moral boosting visit to businesses and farmers in Wales to talk about the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Hoteliers, bed and breakfast accommodation owners and visitor attractions suffered serious income losses last year, a problem identified in reports from the Rural Task Force and Lord Haskins, published last year.

The campaign which follows the reports was launched at Hatton Country World, a visitor attraction and working farm in Worcestershire.

It is supported by nearly 50 groups - from government departments of culture and environment to the national Federation of Women's Institutes.

Double whammy

Rural affairs minister Alun Michael and Baroness Blackstone from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport were at the launch on Monday.

Deputy President of the National Farmers Union Tim Bennett said: "Foot-and-mouth and the closure of the countryside have demonstrated the full impact of a disaster of this kind on farming and the network of businesses and activities that depend on it.

Dead sheep
Visitors were put off by the foot-and-mouth crisis
"We are extremely pleased that so many organisations have come together to celebrate this very welcome re-opening of the countryside. "

Keith Buchanan, Countryside Agency co-ordinator for the campaign, said there was no doubt that with the combination of foot-and-mouth and the 11 September attacks was a "double whammy" for rural business.

"The consensus came through in both the Rural Task Force and the Haskins Report that there should be a campaign to get people back," he said.

"So there will be thousands of events up and down the country."

Royal talk

The National Trust said its programme would include bat walks and farm visits among 500 events in beautiful landscapes.

Sir Edward Greenwell, president of the Country Land and Business Association, said: "This campaign is crucial to the quick recovery of all rural businesses, be they farms, pubs, hotels, leisure facilities or visitor attractions.


I just wanted to try and remind people that there are actually huge opportunities in this part of the world

Prince Charles
"All businesses in the rural environment are dependent upon each other and so it is particularly important that representative organisations come together to encourage people back."

Prince Charles has been visiting businesses in the Brecon Beacons hit by the foot-and-mouth crisis.

He visited a riding school, a farm and met members of the Brecon's Trust which was set up to promote the area following the tourism slump.

The prince was also due to meet farmers at a pub to discuss how the disease had affected their businesses.

See also:

23 Jan 02 | UK
UK not OK by everyone
23 Jan 02 | Business
UK bids to woo back tourists
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