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Monday, 16 April, 2001, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Easter break springs tourism hope
Loch Lomond cruise
Easter weekend is traditionally a busy time
A late rush of bookings over the Easter weekend has meant some tourism businesses reporting a busy time.

Airports and travel agents have said there was no "exodus" of people going abroad because of foot-and-mouth.

Hotels have been full and the National Trust for Scotland said it was seeing "plenty of visitors" as Scots turned out to support the industry.

The message that Scotland is still open for business appears to be getting through.

Warning sign
Some say earlier restrictions were too severe
Councillor Donnie Macmillan of Argyll and Bute council said: "I found out on my visits last night that 10 days ago there were hardly any bookings at all but suddenly there has been an influx and some places are doing quite well. Others are not doing quite so well.

"I feel that the last minute rush is due to the fact that we're educating the people now with press releases that it is not a closed shop in Argyll and there are quite a lot places still open.

"People should come and enjoy themselves.

"The measures put on were too severe to begin with, they weren't thought out properly and there were a lot of pathways, etc, closed which could have remained open.

Late bookings

"Now I think the message has got through and this Easter has been reasonable - but nothing to write home about."

Pierre Dodds, who owns the Kilmartin Hotel with his wife Cecilia, said: "Easter was not so bad.

VisitScotland sign at tourism fair
VisitScotland has been campaigning to encourage tourists
"At the weekend we were fully booked, but it was most of the time through last minute bookings."

Mrs Dodds said that the hotel had mounted a campaign in Belgium to encourage visitors to come over for fishing and shooting.

She said: "The fishing is, I think, lost. The shooting is end of the year and hopefully the disease will be over and people will anyway come over to Scotland because it is really worth it."

A spokeswoman for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said the number of Scots heading overseas was about average.

Poor winter

She said: "Airports in Scotland had about 50,000 people travelling out of them this time last year.

"Figures suggest that it was 60,000 this year. That is up but what we are finding is that this is not related to foot-and-mouth. "

Edinburgh Airport
Airport numbers were flat
Simon Walton, a spokesman for the National Trust for Scotland, was upbeat about attendance at the trust's 127 properties.

He said: "I have just been speaking to the manager of Culzean Castle, in Ayrshire, one of our most popular locations, which opened for the season on Thursday and he said numbers have been very strong.

Skiing boost

"So far so good. The native population have been coming out and supporting us and we have been seeing plenty of visitors."

Edinburgh's Gorgie City Farm has re-opened after being closed for six weeks.

Cloven-hooved animals are being kept in a cordoned-off area that is staying shut.

Scottish ski slopes have also reported a busy weekend.

A spokesman at Glenshee Ski Centre said the slopes had been open for business, with only the weather being blamed for a slight drop in visitor numbers.

Traffic tailbacks

At the official Loch Ness exhibition centre in the Highlands, managing director Robbie Bremner said: "We were relatively quiet on Friday due to traffic tailbacks, but we had a very good Saturday and Sunday and it has been steady today.

"It's been a lot better than we had expected two or three weeks ago when it looked quite miserable."

In the Borders, the Peebles Hydro Hotel was full throughout the weekend, despite the hotel losing more than 60,000 in conference business in recent weeks as a result of the virus outbreak.

In Dumfries and Galloway, where the Scottish disease outbreak has been centred, visitor numbers to tourist information centres were down 20% on average.

Weather boost

Karen Wilson, marketing manager for Dumfries and Galloway Tourist Board, suggested this was better than early indications, but said she was hopeful numbers could be boosted later in the year.

"Visitor numbers to our centres ranged from a third down at Gretna to 11% down at Newton Stewart. Early indications were that it could be a lot worse, but a lot of holidaymakers booked in advance.

"I think the weather, which has been glorious, has also helped, so it's not as bad as perhaps we had feared."

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13 Apr 01 | Scotland
Foot-and-mouth spreads further
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