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Peter Lederer, visitscotland chairman
"Scotland is probably leading the way in having a recovery plan"
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Tuesday, 3 April, 2001, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
Scotland launches US tourism offensive
Tourism sign
The visit seeks to explode myths and misconceptions
First Minister Henry McLeish has delivered the message to the United States that Scotland is open for business.

He urged Americans to ignore the "myths and misconceptions" surrounding foot-and-mouth disease and come to Scotland on holiday.

During his "Tartan Week" trip to the United States he told Americans, he was keen to set the record straight over fears that Scotland is a no-go area in the wake of the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Mr McLeish's trip, accompanied by Tourism Minister Alasdair Morrison and visitscotland's deputy chairman Michael Cantlay, comes as figures show a total of 122 confirmed cases of the virus in Scotland.

Foot-and-mouth in Scotland
122 confirmed cased on 3 April
Animals slaughtered:
82,000 sheep
1,000 cattle
Of these:
11,000 sheep with tracings to Longtown Market, Cumbria
66,000 at farms within 3km of infected sites
5,000 at adjacent farms
1,000 cattle in Dumfries and Galloway

All but two of the infected farms are in the Dumfries and Galloway region.

Speaking to leading travel writers at a visitscotland lunch in New York he said: "Scotland's breathtaking mountains, her beautiful country parks, her salmon-rich rivers, her imposing lochs, her remote islands, her historic castles - they are there for you to visit and explore. They are not closed or closed off.

"Her thriving cities with their galleries and their shops, their restaurants and their pubs - they are open for business.

"The hotels, the bed and breakfasts, the cottages, the thousands of visitor attractions of all kinds - they are open for business.

"Importantly for many of your countrymen and women, the golf courses are open for business."

Henry McLeish
Henry McLeish: "Scotland is open for business"
He stressed that Scotland is waiting to give the Americans a warm welcome adding: "You are our largest market for our biggest industry. You spend 240m a year in our country. Without going into Scottish stereotypes, we very much welcome American visitors to Scotland and welcome the contribution they make to our economy."

Mr McLeish said that when he read some of the US coverage of what is happening in Scotland, he did not recognise the place.

"There are a number of myths and misconceptions about the foot-and-mouth outbreak which I would like to address," he said.

"Firstly, the disease does not affect human beings or household pets.

Sir Sean Connery
Sir Sean Connery is helping get the message across
"I should also stress, in case there is any misunderstanding, that foot-and-mouth disease is not in any way linked to the problem of BSE which has now been tackled in Britain."

Mr McLeish also attended an event promoting Scottish-built double-decker buses which are launching sightseeing trips in New York.

On Wednesday, he is due to attend briefings in Washington with British embassy officials before attending a Scottish Parliament lunch and meeting the president of the World Bank.

On Thursday, Mr McLeish is expected to make a speech at the National Press Club in New York, before attending an award ceremony at which former Bond star Sir Sean Connery will be honoured as a Scot who has made a "significant contribution" to the US.

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See also:

02 Apr 01 | Scotland
Scottish tourism steps up fightback
31 Mar 01 | Scotland
Blair praises foot-and-mouth efforts
28 Mar 01 | Scotland
Animal disease spreads in Scotland
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