NEW YORK -- The Irish Tourist Board is taking steps to assure North
American visitors that Ireland's one confirmed case of
hoof-and-mouth disease won't ruin anyone's vacation plans -- in the
cities or in the countryside.
"There are a lot of misconceptions out there and we are afraid
that [potential] visitors have the wrong idea," said a tourist
board spokeswoman, who added that Ireland should not be lumped in
with Great Britain, where outbreaks of the livestock disease have
reached epidemic proportions and have prompted widespread
government travel restrictions.
"We are in the process of forming a [campaign] to combat the
misconception," she said, adding that it would be targeted to
consumers and to the travel trade.
"People still seem to be confusing Mad Cow disease with
hoof-and-mouth," she noted.
Acknowledging that there have been some cancelations of trips
and some postponements, the spokeswoman said that the single
confirmed case of hoof-and-mouth, in County Louth, is in the
original seclusion zone created more than a month ago near the
border with Northern Ireland.
"We've had no other cases anywhere else in the republic," she
According to the tourist board Web site, located at www.irelandvacations.com, inland cruising is operating
normally, and most golf courses are open.
Castles and museums in and around Dublin and throughout the
countryside are open as are tourist sites such as the Waterford
Crystal Visitor Center, mill and woolen museums, gardens and dozens
of rural cultural and craft centers, many of which are stops on
escorted motorcoach and self-drive itineraries.
The Web site also tells visitors that, as precautions, the
national parks remain closed for now, and that off-road cycling and
hill walking are being discouraged. The Dublin zoo also is
Jim McGuigan, the tourist board's executive vice president for
North America, added that "nearly all accommodations are open,"
including bed-and-breakfast inns in rural areas.
The Web site advises visitors to check with the proprietors of
inns if there is any doubt as to whether they are operating
McGuigan, who noted that the republic receives 1 million
visitors from North America, said tourists can "continue to enjoy
the beauty of the destination, its varied attractions and sites and
above all, the traditional Irish welcome."
Americans traveling to Ireland from the U.S. won't notice any
unusual entry requirements, but visitors from the U.K. and the
European continent are having to walk over disinfectant mats at air
and sea ports, the tourist board said, because the hoof-and-mouth
virus can inadvertently be spread by people coming out of infected
France and the Netherlands also have confirmed cases of the
The Irish Tourist Board is regularly posting news updates
regarding hoof-and-mouth on its Web site, and details of the
planned tourism campaign are expected soon.
Disease's impact continues
Although Ireland appears virtually unaffected, hoof-and-mouth
disease continues to have an impact on travel and tourism
elsewhere. Several reports follow.Disneyland Paris banned horse-drawn carriages and quarantined
most animals susceptible to the disease after it was found in a
town less than 25 miles from the park, according to published
reports. The Wild West Show, which involves horses and buffaloes,
remains open, but visitors must walk on disinfectant mats to enter
and exit the show.United said customers who want to change their travel plans to
Great Britain can get a travel credit or postpone their trip
without penalty.Operators of tours into Britain are not changing their
cancellation policies to conform with airlines that are waiving
cancellation fees. The operators are reporting that most calls of
concern have not turned into cancellations.
"We're spending a lot of time on the telephone ... trying to
explain there is no reason to cancel. People can't get
hoof-and-mouth disease," said Peter McCormack, president of Insight
Vacations. "After we explain that there is no danger, most of them
say, 'OK, I thought it was something else,' " said Brian Stack,
president of CIE Tours.Canada boosted surveillance of air passengers and baggage
arriving on international flights.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency requested that travelers
cooperate with disinfectant and search procedures at ports of
Officials said that travelers who visit a farm before entering
Canada should make sure that clothing and footwear worn during the
visit is disinfected.