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The BBC's Robert Hall
"Any recovery programme would cost tens of millions"
 real 56k

Richard Copland, American Society of Travel Agents
"We can get the message out"
 real 56k

Culture secretary Chris Smith
"We cannot afford to lose too much of this business"
 real 28k

Friday, 20 April, 2001, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Red carpet for tourist leaders
The Duke of Edinburgh with tourist leaders at Windsor Castle
The Duke of Edinburgh joins the drive to boost tourism
The Duke of Edinburgh has helped lay out the red carpet for overseas tourism leaders in the drive to show the UK is open for business despite foot-and-mouth disease.

The group of global travel chiefs and writers met the Duke at Windsor Castle on Friday as part of a top class tour of the UK.

We can still save the summer season here

Michel Higuet
French tourist operator
From there, they went to visit Tony Blair at his country retreat of Chequers and their next stop was Downing Street to meet Cherie Blair and Culture Secretary Chris Smith.

The summit is designed to combat negative perceptions of Britain abroad and to boost tourism as the farms crisis continues.

Mr Smith said the summit was aimed at ensuring misapprehensions abroad were corrected.

"Getting across the truth of what's what this exercise is all about," he said.

The move comes after the prime minister visited Durham this week in an attempt to revive its tourist industry.

Positive reaction

The foreign operators were positive about what they had seen, saying they believed tourists should still come to the UK.

French tourist operator Michel Higuet said he believed Britain's summer tourist trade could still be saved.

Tony Blair in Durham
Tony Blair took the tourism message to Durham
"It's glorious here and the situation is absolutely normal," he said.

He praised the UK's "numerous tourist assets" and added: "I don't think the effect of foot-and-mouth will be that dramatic on the French tourists coming to Britain.

"The market in France is one of last minute sales. We can still save the summer season here."

US cancellations

James Shillinglaw, editor-in-chief of New York-based Travel Agent magazine, said there had been thousands of cancellations in America.

"There is a great misconception and confusion about what is going on in Britain," he said.

"Our role is to go back and explain what is actually happening here."

He believed the British tourist summer could be saved "to some extent" and insisted Britain was not seen as being continually in crisis.

"It's a bunch of things adding up to nothing," said Mr Shillinglaw.

Advertising campaign

Bernard Donoghue, of the British Tourist Authority, said the organisation was planning a 100,000 advertising campaign to boost the UK's image.

"None of the top 10 tourist attractions in Britain are closed," said Mr Donoghue.

He said the country had suffered from a "cumulative negative impression" as a result of problems like flooding and the BSE controversy.

While tourist attractions reported a rise in trade over the Easter bank holiday weekends, some bed-and-breakfast businesses say they have had no bookings since February.

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