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Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 14:10 GMT
Wales 'open for business' tourists told
The Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagan's, near Cardiff
Open : the Museum of Welsh Life, St Fagan's
Many of Wales's most popular tourist attractions have re-opened after nearly a month of being closed because of foot-and-mouth.

The Welsh Assembly's deputy first minister Mike German launched a tourism charter on Wednesday aimed at reassuring potential visitors.


Tourism is in trouble and having huge problems. This is a question of damage limitation.
Philip Evans, Wales Tourist Board chairman

The charter will be given to any attraction or holiday site which promises to abide by strict rules to prevent the spread of the disease.

Many attractions and country walks, and beaches have been off-limits since the crisis began, while others have suffered as a result of cautious visitors staying away from the countryside.

Tourism employs 100,000 people in Wales - about 10% of the workforce - and pumps 2bn a year into the economy.

Estimates say that in recent weeks, around 25% of that revenue has been lost.

Entrance to the Welsh Mountain Zoo
The zoo in Colwyn Bay re-opens Thursday
Launching the charter, Mr German announced: "Wales is open for business."

And, he added: "The foot-and-mouth outbreak is one of the worst emergencies to hit our rural communities in wales in decades.

"Our challenge is not only to eradicate the disease but also to ensure that the businesses forming the backbone of the rural economy can weather the current emergency and recover quickly once it is over.

"The Tourism Charter is one of our most important measures in the drive to bring visitors back to the many attractions still available in Wales."

'Huge problems'

Wales Tourist Board chairman Philip Evans described tourism as the most important industry in Wales and added: "We need to open in the low risk areas.

"Tourism generates 5m a day, but it is losing 3m a day.

"It is in trouble and having huge problems. This is a question of damage limitation."

On Tuesday the assembly issued new guidance to local authorities in Wales as a first step towards relaxing restrictions in parts of the countryside.

Footpaths

The guidelines only apply to areas of Wales not currently infected by the outbreak.

Local authorities in non-infected areas now have the discretion to decide whether or not to re-open some footpaths and rights of way to the public.

For instance, Carmarthenshire County Council will be able to decide if the National Botanic Garden of Wales at Llanarthne can re-open.

The number of cases of foot-and-mouth in Wales has continued to rise with a new case at Llangaffo on Anglesey, taking the total to 29.

'Not enough'

The Wales Tourism Alliance has argued that not enough has been done to help those affected by the knock-on effects.

The group has claimed that 1,500 jobs are being lost in tourism each week because of foot-and mouth and the alliance added that Easter period could see three times the losses.

Members are seeking compensation for businesses affected by "government directives" following the outbreak.

WTA chairman David Baird-Murray said: "We must get the message across that Wales is open for business."

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See also:

20 Mar 01 | Wales
Disease cancels youth festival
15 Mar 01 | Wales
Mass cull ordered around mart
09 Mar 01 | Wales
Foot-and-mouth factfile
14 Mar 01 | Europe
EU attacks disease blockades
14 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Rural Britain 'still open'
15 Mar 01 | Europe
World moves to contain disease
16 Mar 01 | Scotland
Farmer's grief at slaughter plans
15 Mar 01 | UK
In the shadow of the virus
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