Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 23

Memorandum submitted by the East of England Foot and Mouth Disease Regional Task Force

  The East of England Regional Task Force (RTF) was formed by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) during March to urgently consider and address issues relating to the impact of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) on the economy of the East of England. The influential RTF membership comprises senior representation from all key organisations in the East of England including Government Office, MAFF, Local Authorities, Countryside Agency, East of England Tourist Board, NFU, CLA, FSB, SBS and Rural Community Councils. The RTF is advised by specialist Topic Groups with support through officer level Working Groups.

  While the FMD outbreak did not stem from a farm in the East of England, the early cases manifested themselves in Essex. Although the number of confirmed cases in the East of England has been small (11 currently), other precautionary slaughterings have taken place. A number of farms are under restrictions due to confirmed outbreaks elsewhere. The economic impact of foot and mouth disease (FMD) is not restricted to the areas of outbreak as the wider rural economy is affected by the perception of FMD as well as the reality. Despite the low number of confirmed cases, the impact on the East of England economy and the tourism sector in particular has been significant.

  There has been a major reduction in overseas tourist visitors, who account for one third of tourism income in the East of England, and this is affecting urban and rural areas alike. It is important therefore that further promotion is undertaken to correct the current mis-information that exists about visiting the UK. This is particularly relevant in the important USA, German, French and Dutch markets.

  The RTF wishes to fully endorse the paper and recommendations prepared by the East of England Tourist Board, a key member of our RTF, and to highlight:

    —  the disparity in government funding for tourism that currently exists between England and the other UK countries;

    —  the reliance on self generated funding by Regional Tourist Boards for marketing;

    —  the importance of promotion of the UK as a destination for overseas tourists;

    —  the lack of ICT infrastructure and specialist staff within RTBs;

    —  the unhelpful disparity in VAT rates between UK and the rest of Europe; and

    —  the importance of a co-ordinated national approach to promoting the UK and the regions.

April 2001


 
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