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Friday, 23 August, 2002, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
US tourists flock to crop circles
People in crop circle, Circlemakers photo
Coach trips to see the Wiltshire circles are fully-booked
Wiltshire is among the top UK destinations for American tourists this summer, because of its world-famous crop circles.

Thousands of US visitors have been inspired to visit the county by the new film, Signs, in which Mel Gibson plays a man who finds crop circles on his land.

The film, which goes on general release in the UK next month, has been a box office hit in America taking $150m (98.7m) so far this summer.

Coach parties are arriving daily in Wiltshire providing welcome income following last year's foot-and-mouth losses.

US tourists visit crop circles
The tourists are "intrigued" by the circles

David Honeybell, a guide with Astral Tours, said: "Their first question even before we set off is 'Are we going to see any crop circles today?'."

Local pubs have set up crop circle information centres to attract tourist business.

The Silent Circle cafe at Cherhill, near Calne, has had 10,000 visitors since opening in June.

The owner, Charles Mallett said: "The visitors have been from 20 different nations."

A group from Arizona, North Carolina, California and Texas told the BBC they were fascinated by the mystery of crop circles.

Mel Gibson in Signs
Signs has renewed interest in crop circles

"It's kind of intriguing how it has all come to pass," said one.

Another woman, on seeing her first crop circle in a field in the Vale of Pewsey, described the experience as "pretty amazing and awe-inspiring".

Her travelling companion said: "It's pretty trippy."

Last month leading crop circle investigators from all over the world swapped theories at a conference in Somerset.

Andy Thomas, an organiser of the three-day conference in Glastonbury, said people were still puzzling over "astonishing new and unexplained formations".

One of the most elaborate designs to appear recently was a huge formation near Stonehenge in Wiltshire, he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jon Kay
"Nowhere in America can rival Wiltshire's famous circles"

Click here to go to BBC Wiltshire
See also:

16 Aug 02 | UK
05 Aug 02 | Entertainment
14 Jul 00 | UK
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