Tourist numbers dropped 13% in June due to foot-and-mouth

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The Independent Online

The number of foreign tourists taking holidays in Britain fell by 13 per cent in June, according to new statistics revealing the continuing effects of foot-and-mouth disease.

The figures, compiled by the Office for National Statistics and released yesterday, show that tourist numbers dropped to 862,000 in June, compared with 996,000 in June last year. The drop is larger than the nine per cent fall recorded in May compared with the same period in 2000. Quarterly statistics also dropped sharply, with numbers for the three months to June down five per cent on the previous three months and on the same period last year.

Spending by foreign tourists also fell, with the estimated income of £2.8bn in the three months to June down 11 per cent on the previous quarter.

The Office for National Statistics said the trend in overseas tourist numbers was still falling. However, the overall number of foreign visitors coming to Britain in June, which includes people travelling to the UK for business as well as for personal reasons, was slightly up on last year.

Tourist leaders warned that it was still too early to predict the full impact of the foot-and-mouth outbreak on tourism. A spokesman for the British Tourist Authority, which markets Britain overseas, said: "The critical months for inbound tourism are from July to September, when a third of all visitors come to Britain.

"The BTA is doing everything it can to win back business this year by mounting tactical campaigns in our key markets, working with the trade and backed by an additional £14.2m grant from the Government," he said.

Peter Ainsworth, the shadow Culture Secretary, said: "Labour have a lot of work to do before the tourism industry will have any faith in them."