28 August 2001
Campaign to boost rural tourism

By FWi staff

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to boost Britains farmhouse bed-and-breakfast industry after record losses this summer due to foot-and-mouth.

The National Farmers Union and Farm Stay UK have teamed up in an attempt to help farmers recoup losses after bookings nose-dived.

The campaign was launched after an NFU telephone found bookings for the six months since foot and mouth began plummeted by 40%.

The survey of 100 farmhouse bed-and-breakfasts found that 87% suffered a drop in bookings in the six months from the start of the outbreak on 20 February

Bookings plummeted by an average 40% for the period compared to last year. The loss per business averaged 5,000. Some businesses shut down completely.

The bed-and-breakfast sector has become increasingly important as a source of farm income with one in six farmers providing tourist accommodation.

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

Michael Paske, vice-president of the National Farmers union said he hoped the campaign would help extend the holiday season into the autumn and winter.

“When you consider that the average farm income last year was just 5,200 it is obvious just how significant some of these losses are.

Foot-and-mouth caused a dramatic decline in foreign visitors, particularly from America, Holland and Germany, in the early weeks of the outbreak.

Mr Paske said: “The combined impact of foot and mouth on livestock farming and tourism has left many farms struggling to survive.

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Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage