Brits bite back at hoof-and-mouth disease

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NEW YORK -- The British have taken up the sword against hoof-and-mouth disease, with multiple strategies now in place to get its $96 billion a year tourism industry back on track.

Here are the latest developments:

  • U.K. Culture Minister Chris Smith released the National Tourism Recovery Strategy.
  • Covering five tourism-related points, the document details the steps that the government, the British Tourist Authority and regional tourist boards are taking to reassure visitors that the livestock disease poses no threat to their health or vacation plans.

    Efforts include everything from a slew of new Web sites that provide updated information for travel sellers to media campaigns and fam trips for industry leaders.

    It also explains the criteria used to determine whether footpaths and forests should be reopened, and outlines assistance for ailing U.K. travel companies.

  • More than 90% of Britain's rural waterways and canals were reopened as of April 12, along with 1,000 hiking paths and dozens of forests and woods in England, Scotland and Wales.
  • Major rural sites have reopened, including Stonehenge and the Home Park at Hampton Court Palace. Dozens more National Trust and English Heritage properties were slated to open by April 15.
  • A VIP delegation of industry leaders from the U.S. will be accompanied by a film crew during its fact-finding trip to England and Scotland this week.
  • Among the participants are ASTA president Richard Copland; Brian Stack of CIE International and Peter Tauck of Tauck World Discovery, both attending on behalf of the U.S. Tour Operators Association; Nadine Godwin, Travel Weekly editor in chief; Patrick O'Shea, a Far & Wide executive; former ASTA chief Michael Spinelli, and other industry executives from the U.S., Canada and Japan.

    As previously reported, the delegation will meet with Prime Minister Tony Blair.

    According to the BTA, the delegation was convened in part to "help our government understand the impact that hoof-and-mouth is having on the tourism industry."

    The BTA will attempt to get the delegation's visit covered by major news organizations.

  • The BTA has contacted 15,000 U.K. attractions and is listing all open sites on the Internet at www.openbritain.gov.uk.
  • Meanwhile, the culture secretary announced that four scientific studies just completed indicate that the livestock virus might already have peaked, prompting officials to hope that new hoof-and-mouth cases will "be reduced to a trickle by June." There were 1,249 confirmed cases as of April 12.

    Get More:
    To read the National Tourism Recovery Strategy, click here.

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