Inbound and domestic tourism businesses in the UK are praying the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease at a farm near Guildford, Surrey, will not lead to a repeat of the 2001 disaster.
Back then, the year-long foot-and-mouth epidemic cost the sectors up to £3 billion in lost revenue after the Government closed miles of footpaths and images of pyres of burning cattle led to a fall-off in inbound visitors.
Hopes that the latest outbreak would be confined to a single herd were dashed when a second group of cattle was found to be infected. Prime minister Gordon Brown cut short his holiday to return to chair the Government’s civil emergencies committee.
It is believed the new outbreak may have originated at a private research laboratory close to the affected farm.
Trade association UKinbound has reported “modest increases” in European visitors so far this year compared with 2006, but noted the long-haul markets – primarily the US – “remain flat”.
It has reported concern among members about the impact on tourism of the attempted bombings at Glasgow Airport and in London.
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