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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 10:41 GMT
Ten youth hostels to close doors
Ten hostels will close across English regions
Countryside tourism was hit by foot-and-mouth
The Youth Hostels Association (YHA) is to sell 10 hostels because of a drop in visitors during the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Hostel trustees made the announcement on Wednesday, after a meeting at the weekend to discuss the YHA's financial position.

The association has suffered a 5m shortfall after having to close hostels to visitors during the disease outbreak in 2001.

Those being sold will not close until after the current season, which ends in late summer, and will go on the market in late 2002.

'Hard decision'

Hostels to be sold are at Aysgarth and Linton in the Yorkshire dales, Dufton in Cumbria, and Elton and Buxton in the Peak District.

Those at Copt Oak in Leicestershire and Thurlby in Lincolnshire will also go on sale, along with hostels in Norwich, Windsor, and Holmbury St Mary in Surrey.

The YHA says the 10 were chosen on the basis of financial viability, the need for future investment, and to minimise the impact of any closure on the YHA network.

The association has 230 hostels across England and Wales.

Youth Hostels Association of England and Wales logo
The YHA is opening nine new hostels

Chris Boulton, YHA chairman said: "This was a very hard decision to take, but a necessary one in the circumstances.

"The news is, however, better than expected. Help from our members and assistance from public funds, together with the savings we were able to make, have limited the number of youth hostels affected.

"Taking this action now will safeguard our ability to continue with necessary investments and plans for the future.

"The YHA understands how much this may affect a community with a youth hostel at its heart and sympathises with those who may be affected.

"We are committed to modernising the extensive network of youth hostels to meet the needs of modern guests.

Funding help

"We also have a continuing commitment to the objectives of the association."

The YHA has found its income severely hit by foot-and-mouth, even though it has received around 1m in help from Government funds and members donations.

Since the effects of foot-and-mouth hit the rural tourist industry, the YHA has received 250,000 from a members appeal and 500,000 from the Countryside Agency's Business Recovery Fund.

The YHA has recently, or will within the next year, open nine new Youth Hostels in Portland, Betws-y-Coed, Lee Valley, Kielder, Littlehampton, Leominster, The Lizard, Wells-next-the-Sea, and Oxford.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Youth Hostels Association's Roger Clarke
"We judged it was better to take the hit now"
See also:

06 Mar 02 | England
Youth hostels to be sold
01 Mar 02 | England
Cumbria gets back on its feet
02 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Youth hostels face closure
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