14 March 2001
‘Hotels worse off than stricken farmers’

By Donald MacPhail

RURAL hoteliers have a better case for foot-and-mouth compensation than many farmers, claims a former National Farmers Union economist.

Commentators have questioned why tourism, worth 64 billion a year to Britain, should suffer from restrictions to help farming, which contributes only 9bn.

Foot-and-mouth controls have put some of Britains most beautiful countryside out of bounds and, according to some reports, is costing tourism 250m a week.

Sean Rickard of Cranfield School of Management believes that farmers whose stock are destroyed to contain foot-and-mouth should be fully compensated.

But he says those with animals caught up in movement restrictions are in reality suffering a cashflow problem as they will be able to sell stock later.

In contrast, a rural hotelier who loses a booking because of restrictions has lost that revenue forever, he argues.

“The rural tourist industry is more deserving than the average farmer, but neither should get any compensation,” insisted Mr Richard.

Mr Rickard said if consequential compensation is paid to one group, it sets a precedent for many equally deserving cases, such as hauliers and abattoirs.

“If we go down the road of consequential compensation, someone is going to be on the wrong side and feel they are deserving.”

Mr Rickard said as businesspeople who must take risks to make profit, farmers should have insured against foot-and mouth.

But Mr Rickard said a straight comparison of the farm and tourism industries was unfair on producers.

Farming should be considered within context of the UK food industry it supplies, and which is worth a similar amount to the country as tourism.

Mr Rickard also questioned the extent of tourism losses, as March is traditionally an off-peak time, particularly in rural areas.

Ten cases of foot-and-mouth have been confirmed on Wednesday, bring the total confirmed cases in the UK to 215.

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