NEW YORK -- Rural attractions in England are feeling the effects of
travel restrictions caused by the spreading hoof-and-mouth disease
in Great Britain, including 139 sites under the control of English
Among the better-known places that have temporarily closed are
Stonehenge, Avebury and the monuments at Hadrian's Wall. Dozens of
small museums, abbeys and priories also have closed.
A spokeswoman for London-based English Heritage said the sites
were shut down as a precautionary measure against the spread of the
hoof-and-mouth virus, which diminishes the value of cloven-hoofed
livestock such as cattle, pigs and sheep.
disease normally does not affect humans, it but poses a major
economic threat to farming and agricultural industries. The disease
can be transmitted to other animals on the clothing and cars of
people coming out of a contaminated area.
"The countryside is pretty much closed down. We just don't want
people coming into a potentially infected area and then
inadvertently transmitting the virus further," the spokeswoman
Stonehenge normally receives about 2,000 visitors per day at
this time of year, she added.
In addition to heritage sites, national parks, forests, nature
trails and zoos have been shut down throughout Great Britain.
The outbreak of hoof-and-mouth could affect spring travel
itineraries, as tour operators would have to re-route their
motorcoaches away from quarantined areas.
Government officials in the U.K. are hoping that the outbreak
has peaked and that travel restrictions soon will be lifted, but as
recently as March 8, a spokesman from the British Ministry of
Agriculture said, "This outbreak is going to last for a long time
-- and I can't tell you how long."
Sixty-one thousand animals already have been slaughtered in
Britain, and the daily news broadcasts are not helping the
country's tourism image, two British Tourist Authority
representatives acknowledged at the ITB travel trade show in Berlin
But the negative publicity has so far not affected bookings or
Colin Joy, manager of the BTA for Switzerland & Austria,
said his region's largest operator, which sends about 100,000
customers to Great Britain annually, reported five
"We've talked to our hotels and other suppliers and they haven't
had any slowdown in response to the hoof-and-mouth publicity from
Europe or the U.S." he said.
But Joy said he is worried that widespread media coverage of the
disease will cause confusion for travelers."
"We need to get across to the trade that the reason Britain has
taken draconian measures -- closing parks, canceling sporting
events, asking people not to travel to farm areas and slaughtering
whole herds -- is merely to contain the spread of the airborne
Tourism officials in the U.K. aren't the only ones worried. The
U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on March 5 the
implementation of disinfectant procedures at U.S. airports for
people traveling into the country from Europe. This entails walking
on a mat soaked with disinfectant.
The USDA said travelers coming into the country who have been on
farms are being asked to "clean and disinfect" their clothes prior
to entering the U.S.
And those who have been on a farm will have their baggage
examined, the USDA said.
Get more: To read a public announcement from
the U.S. State Department click