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Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 15:57 GMT
Millions to lure back US visitors
Tessa Jowell, UK Culture Media and Sport Secretary
Tessa Jowell is looking forward to seeing more visitors
Tourism bosses are hoping benefits from a multimillion campaign launched in London will spin off to Wales after the industry was affected by terrorist attacks in the US.

Tourism minister and Pontypridd MP Kim Howells helped launch the 5m UKOK programme on Wednesday to fill Britain's 2bn gap left by stay-away American visitors.

With the countryside forming a central plank of the global publicity attack, the Wales Tourist Board said Welsh enterprises, also hit by 2001's foot-and-mouth epidemic, could find some solace.

World Trade Center
Many Americans have stayed at home since 11 September
The annual figure of 152,000 US visitors to Wales was slashed after many Americans became afraid of flying.

UKOK comes as the board gears up for is latest international television campaign, set to promote adventure holidays in Wales.

Kicking off the scheme developed by the British Tuorist Authority, UK Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell told BBC Wales: "The message today is 'come to Britain' - there are great places to visit in Wales, England and Scotland and Ireland."

Her initiative will also target other prime overseas markets including Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Earlier in January, a report from the Welsh Assembly concluded foot-and-mouth cost the Welsh tourism industry 140m - between 0.5% and 0.7% of Welsh GDP.

The Wales Tourist Board, however, put the losses at 280m.

The assembly already pledged 108m to some regions in 2001 to counter the effects, with some businesses going bust and many feeling the pinch.

Largely rural Powys was particularly badly affected.

The number of US visitors to the UK in October 2001 fell to 103,000 from the previous year's 169,000, a spokesperson told BBC News Online.

Marketing effort

Marketing director Roger Pride said: "The Wales Tourist Board welcomes BTA's 5m global marketing campaign, and sees it as a vital part of an integrated strategy for marketing Wales overseas.

"Many rural tourism businesses in Wales were closed completely for many months last year and we are delighted therefore to see that one of the pillars of the campaign is the countryside.

Sheep in rural Wales
Visitor numbers in rural Wales slid with foot-and-mouth
"We look forward to seeing real improvements in overseas tourism business to Wales, in particular to rural areas, as a result of this campaign.

"It is vital that we engender confidence in the Britain brand whilst we promote Wales as a distinct destination under this umbrella.

UKOK comes as the Welsh board prepares for its latest televised marketing campaign - the first launch of the UK's regional boards.

Wales will be pitched as a non-London, "legendary," safe destination by the adverts, which promote the country as a place for adventurous, all-round holiday experiences.

Mr Pride said that campaign - to be rolled out in the next four weeks - will benefit from a threefold increase in the board's marketing budget to 5m in 2003.

BBC Wales's Colette Hume
"Now UKOK aims to lure visitors back to Britain."

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See also:

23 Jan 02 | Business
UK bids to woo back tourists
23 Jan 02 | UK
UK not OK by everyone
07 Apr 01 | Wales
Farmers lobby minister's tour
18 Sep 01 | Business
What now for tourism?
08 Jun 01 | Business
Tourism numbers hit record low
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