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How foot-and-mouth was a disaster for British tourism

With tourism worth £24bn, the industry questioned the wisdom of the draconian measures put in place to combat the spread of the disease. Robert Mendick reports

Wednesday 03 April 2019 18:37 BST
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An ironmonger in the main street in Shaftesbury advertises the latest arrival of disinfectant
An ironmonger in the main street in Shaftesbury advertises the latest arrival of disinfectant (Tom Pilston/The Independent)

Tourism is emerging as Britain’s biggest loser in the foot-and-mouth crisis, with multimillion-pound losses far outstripping the cost to the meat trade. While farmers are losing an estimated £10m a week in lost exports of cattle, sheep and pigs, that sum is being lost to the tourism industry in Cumbria alone. The region is dependent on tourism for almost one in four jobs.

Heart of England tourism board, which covers 11 counties from Gloucestershire to Lincolnshire, estimates that at least £5m a week is being lost. In Wales, the tourism board estimated losses could be as high as £3m a day. Scottish tourism representatives estimated it would cost their industry a minimum £225m.

Those figures compare to the estimated loss to the meat trade of £21m in the first week of the outbreak. With tourism worth £24bn to the British economy, half of which comes from overseas visitors, the industry is questioning the wisdom of the draconian measures put in place to combat the spread of the disease. It is also demanding an emergency rescue package and a relaxation of no-go areas to encourage tourists back to the countryside.

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