31 August 2001

Campaign to aid farmhouse B&Bs

By Isabel Davies

A CAMPAIGN to boost Britains farmhouse bed-and-breakfast industry has been launched by the NFU and Farm Stay UK following record losses due to foot-and-mouth .

An NFU survey of 100 farmhouse B&Bs found bookings plummeted 40% for the six months since F&M began. The survey discovered 87% of establishments suffered a drop in bookings in the six months from the start of the outbreak on Feb 20.

The B&B sector has become increasingly important as a source of farm income with one farmer in six providing tourist accommodation. But the fall in bookings has landed each business with an average loss of £5000, while some have been forced to shut down completely.

Posters and flyers to encourage holidaymakers to visit the countryside were sent to tourist centres and handed out over the Bank Holiday weekend.

NFU vice-president Michael Paske said he hoped the campaign would help extend the holiday season into the autumn and winter.

"When you consider the average farm income last year was just £5200, it is obvious just how significant some of these losses are. The combined impact of F&M on livestock farming and tourism has left many farms struggling to survive."

F&M caused a dramatic decline in foreign visitors, particularly from the US, Holland and Germany. The Countryside Agency has since blamed international confusion about the risks posed by F&M to humans and the relationship to BSE on the nature of media reporting about the issue.

A CBI/Deloitte & Touche service sector survey conducted in June concluded "prospects for the British tourist industry have taken a severe knock due to the F&M crisis… 34% of firms considered the volume of their business to be below normal". &#42