U.K. tourism out to calm hoof-and-mouth fears

NEW YORK -- Great Britain's top tourism officials arrived in the Big Apple March 21 to launch a media blitz aimed at convincing Americans the U.K. is "open for visitors" despite the hoof-and-mouth outbreak that is costing the tourism industry $200 million a week.

Britain's minister of tourism, Janet Anderson, arrived here last night and will be interviewed by at least 12 major news outlets, including CNN, over the next two days, and "will try to help clear up the misconceptions out there about hoof-and-mouth, explaining that humans cannot get it, that our food is safe to eat and that the only places you cannot visit in the countryside are farms."

She announced that Prime Minister Tony Blair had allotted $4 million for a marketing campaign in the U.S. to stem the harm that the hoof-and-mouth crisis already has done to the country's tourism industry.

Anderson confirmed an earlier report by Travel Weekly/TWcrossroads.com that the travel trade in Britain was losing up to $200 million a week because of the closing of tourist attractions in farm areas, but also because tourists were staying away from all of rural Britain.

Tomorrow, 120 of the country's 180 National Trust historic sites will re-open to visitors, and Anderson said she expected many private mansions and castles to follow suit.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI