BTA to research long-term effects of foot and mouth

The British Tourist Authority (BTA) is confident that the country’s business tourism sector will remain strong in the face of the continuing crisis caused by the foot and mouth disease. The authority hopes its own research into the impact of the disease will back up anecdotal evidence that C&I businesses have avoided any downturn felt in the leisure market. “What we are estimating is that general tourism is losing £150 million a week. Within this, the business sector is quite bullish relative to the leisure market, because meeting and conference business is concentrated more in urban areas,” said Adam Bates, BTA head of business tourism. “We are keen to push the value of business tourism. The message is clear – here is a sector that has proved to be more resilient to the crisis. This has given us the opportunity to say business tourism is key to the overall tourism sector, crisis or no crisis.” The British Hospitality Association supports this view but admits it is difficult to prove the real impact on hotels. “The effect has not been universal. Areas such as Devon and Cumbria may have been badly hit but there is no huge evidence so far that the meetings market at hotels has been hit,” said spokesman Miles Quest. Nevertheless, the BTA is keen to quantify the impact. “We are trying to discover the long-term effect but research has only just been commissioned. It is difficult to plan for something like this and we have had to feel our way to a certain extent,” added Bates.

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