DEVON FARM tourism has bounced back dramatically since foot-and-mouth, with farmers offering bed and breakfast enjoying their best year since records began over 10 years ago.

Regional co-op Devon Farms Accommodation said that providers of self-catering units had had their best season for seven years in 2003.

In a survey of 130 farming members, B&Bs averaged an occupancy rate of 46% for the year, compared with 32% in 2001.

Self-catering accommodation achieved a 50% occupancy rate – two percentage points up over the same period in 2001.

But overseas visitors were still well down on pre-FMD levels, at 79% and 73% of the 2000 total for B&Bs and self-catering, respectively, said chairman Valerie Wood.

However, demand through the website and brochures was booming, she added. “In 2003 we attracted £438,000 worth of business for our members, a 35% increase on 2002.”