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


Annex A

Culture, Media and Sport Committee: Inquiry into Tourism Information and Promotion: The Current Situation

Memorandum submitted by Foreign and Commonwealth Office

FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE: BRITAIN OPEN FOR BUSINESS: PUBLIC DIPLOMACY STRATEGY BY OVERSEAS POSTS


Country in
market order
(% market
share)
Local climate and attitude to UK following FMD Action taken by postInitial response/Post comments
USA
(16%)
—Extensive coverage. Accurate but graphic.

—Focus on possibility that FMD could spread to the US.

—Misunderstandings: rural Britain closed to tourists; FMD and BSE the same; FMD implications for human health (eg some people believe hands and feet will fall off if they "catch" FMD).

—High profile Pub Dip effort. Rebutting myths.

—Interviews with HMA, DHM and Consuls General carried by major TV, radio and print media.

—Headline presence on web-sites, updated daily.

—Minister for Tourism made good visit to NY on 20-22 March. Visit helps to correct misconceptions.

—Visit by Mr McLeish and senior CBI delegation was used.

—Using testimony of high-profile Americans recently returned from UK.

—Need to continue efforts to mend UK's damaged image—especially with US correspondents in London.

—More rationality brought to US debate, especially after PM's CNN/NBC interview.

—Baroness Jay may visit early May.


France
(13%)
—Press coverage factual but graphic and with negative under-tones—some comments tie FMD to BSE and eg rail difficulties as proof of UK lack of regulation.

—March travel business holding up but some cancellations for Easter (mostly school groups).

—BE Paris set up a team with local BTA to rebuild UK's image when exit strategy becomes realistic.

—BE Paris and Consulates General giving regular interviews to national and local print and radio media. HMA active in the regions.

—BE/CG contact with travel industry, especially those who deal with school groups.

—FMD information on out-of-hours telephone messages.

—Key texts, Q&A and letters posted on Embassy and BTA web-sites.

—BE Paris/BTA website now promoting message of "Britain Open for Business".

—BE Paris arranged for an article to be reported in "Le Monde".

—BTA have been doing a small amount of paid advertising in Parisian and regional press.

—Education Ministry to issue instructions to schools not to cancel visits, and BE Paris also talking directly to schools.

—Ministry of Agriculture altered advice on agricultural visits—case-by-case approval rather than blanket ban.

—Regional travel agent (Lille) persuaded to appear on local radio giving "open for business message".

—Ministry of Agriculture sympathetic—have sent 14 vets.

Germany
(11%)
—Food safety issue always sensitive. FMD has had large impact.

—Many calls from school groups and other travellers. (50 calls and 180 web-hits).

—Laender are key—they have competence.

—Most callers concerned about what food they can bring in and out than whether they should travel at all.

—Post making full use of their web-site and all public gatherings to circulate MAFF and BTA information and Q&A.

—MAFF PUS visit to Germany and HMA coverage of FMD in pre-Stockholm briefing led to some balanced coverage.

—HMA sent letters to all Laender, Education and Culture Ministers.

—BE Berlin also targetting specific Laender with intensive lobbying.

—Welsh Minister for Tourism briefed journalists on 2 April.

—Post trying to encourage Federal Minister Kuenst to go on record saying no need not to travel to UK.

—Post placed PM's article in local leading tabloid newspaper.

—BTA report new bookings down but no surge in cancellations.

—Some Laender (eg NRW) have advised against travel by School groups.

—Some (Bavaria) have said no need to cancel.

—Balanced press report in Berlin centre paper (Tagesspiegel) resulting from HMA interview.

—Post recommend lobbying of London based correspondents.

Ireland
(8%)
—Reaction based on fears of local contraction of FMD.

—Irish Government has relaxed "don't visit UK" campaign media.

—Very sensitive—sports events cancelled.

—BE briefed journalists to reduce negative coverage of handling of disease.

—Containing disease and visible disinfection procedures at the UK end under discussion.


Netherlands
(6%)
—Coverage sympathetic and positive.

—Relay of UK press coverage (BBC in most homes etc) will have greater effect than Dutch comment.

—Travel agents report 15-20% drop in year on year business. Forward bookings, especially for groups, looking bleak.

—BE and BTA factual responses to enquiries on visiting UK.

—BTA regular travel industry briefings.

—QandA key texts in English and Dutch on post and BTA websites.

—BTA now drawing up short and medium term market recovery strategy.

—Extracts from "Britain Open for Business" published in 2 major national newspapers.

—Requests for HMA to be interviewed on national TV and regional radio in place.

—Enquiries to BTA and BE question restrictions and safety.

—Pragmatic travel agent response.

—Providing reassurance on disinfection procedures at UK ports.

—Post working closely with BTA.

—Need to consider sensitivities in Netherlands.


Italy
(4%)
—Not a major issue in Italy (other domestic concerns).

—No sign of tourism drop-off at present but hint of slight slowdown on summer bookings (£ strength to blame?).

—Italian press not hostile but carry graphic images.

—Key messages and prominent links to key UK Gov sites on BTA and BE web-sites.

—Targetting of national and local media by HMA.

—Letters to major investors in UK carrying core message.

—BTA mail-shot to travel industry and airlines.

—Message was carried in La Republica travel section with coverage of Eden Project.

—Targetting education chiefs to reassure educational visit market.

—FMD passage in HMA speech to CBI-equivalent (3 April).

—National news agency carried core message in full on 29 March.

—Post recommend Ministerial interview with London-based correspondent or interview for Italian journalists in London before their own 13 May elections.

Hong Kong
(4% inc all
Far East
except Japan)
—Keen interest but balanced press reporting so far.

—CG gave press conference on 27 March (BA, Virgin and BTA present). CG appeared on local "Today" programme.

—Open for business message running in English and Chinese language media (but second to "Asia smuggled meat as cause" story).

—Relevant web-site addresses carried by media.


Singapore
—Occasionally lurid, but mostly accurate reporting (based on messages in UK media).

—Evidence only of isolated cancellations so far. But advance bookings down (could be down to airline booking tactics).

—Some confusion about link to human Hand, Foot and Mouth.

—High Commissioner gave interviews to trade press, local TV and BBC World Service. And NATAS Trade Fair on 15 April.

—HC held reception for key local travel agents end April.

—With BTA, producing flyer attacking misconceptions.

—BTA/BA sponsored trip for Singaporean travel journalists in May. BHC to brief before departure.

—Web-site coverage.

—Singaporean tourists usually concentrate on city visits—hope impact on tourism therefore limited.


Belgium
(4% inc
Luxembourg)
—Bookings down by around 10% (though Eurostar not yet affected).

—Cancellation of school trips, esp after Education Ministry recommends schools avoid UK.

—FMD fears heightened following Dutch, French outbreaks.

—Embassy rebutting errors and clarifying misconceptions.

—HMA has written to two Ministers over warnings on school trips.

—HMA working with BTA and other tourist/transport officials to ensure clear strategy and lines.

—Post believe aggressive campaign would be counter-productive.

—Signs of a drop in tourist bookings (around 10%). School trips also cancelled.


Spain
(3%)
—Reporting factual but graphic.

—Easter bookings holding up but BA report drop in new bookings (discounts planned).

—Interviews with HMA in national and regional newspapers.

—BE and BTA web-sites feature information and links to UK Government sites and call-fielders briefed to give accurate information.

—BTA roadshow.

—El Pais article on visiting Scotland with no mention of FMD.

—Media coverage declining.

Australia
(3%)
—Key Australian concern is to maintain FMD-free status.

—But reporting factual and drawn from UK sources.

—300 calls per day about travelling: mostly to find out about restrictions, if any, rather then cancelling trip.

HMA (and C-Gs) addressing FMD in all speeches and interviews: priority message is attempt to contain and eradicate disease, followed by Open for Business message.

—BHC, BTA and British Council post co-ordinated FMD information on websites.

—BHC stressing importance of avoiding adverse comment during Australian cricket tour of UK. They will brief commentators before departure.

—Tourism down—but no clear link to FMD (exchange rate etc also impacts).


Canada
(3%)
—Extensive, generally factual and sympathetic coverage.

—Acute sensitivity over UK military training exercises in Canada: concern over FMD spread via UK armed forces.

—High Commission working hard to reassure officials and media that UK military are taking all necessary precautions.

—Distribution of FMD information material aound 3,450 travel agents. Website updates with key links.

—Interviews, media receptions.

—Some groups call for ban on UK tourists. But others try to restore sense of proportion.

—Continue to monitor further military training problems.


Saudi
Arabia
(2% inc all
Middle East)
—Measured response, factual press coverage, following UK press lead.

—Broadening of third country import bans.

—Local press briefed in Arabic and English. Factual paper in both languages distributed to press.

—Regular updates on websites.

—Articles placed in local press.

—No sign yet of drop in tourism.


Denmark
(2%)
—Factual reporting by press, sensible and measured public response.

—Concern over 3rd country export bans that would damage Danish meat and pork exports.

—Advice in English and Danish on Embassy web-site.

—Handling public enquiries on private food imports to UK and shows/rural activities.

—Guidance issued to Association of Travel Bureaux and their 300 members.

—Briefing of jounalists.

—As in UK, post- ponement of agricultural shows.

—No general decline in flight bookings, but some travel agents report drop-off in interest in countryside holidays (usually 50,000 pa).

—As of 17 April post confirm it is "rural holidays" being badly hit.

—DFDS holding own via special offers on their mini breaks to countryside. Major coach operators experienced cancellations for May, but bookings still holding for June onwards. Generally people adopting a "wait and see" attitude. City destinations not affected.

Japan
(2%)
—Factual reporting.

—Tourism-related enquiries question what is and is not open, not whether to go.

—Embassy web-site carries FAQ on FMD.

—BTA have liaised closely with travel industry.

—Useful BTA mission in April.

—Post recommend PM letter to Japan Association of Travel Agents.

—No sign of drop-off in tourism.


Sweden
(2%)
—City visit figures holding.

—Car holiday bookings down 40%.

—Mostly factual reporting but recent stories of slump in rural tourism.

—Key misunderstandings concern closed tourist attractions and leisure activities, unsafe food, and bringing the disease to Sweden.

—BE producing myth-destruction two-pager in consultation with BTA, airlines and ferry companies.

—HMA given interviews to media.

—Pub dip effort so far probably only reaching hesitant travellers. Others just dropping UK off list.

—Post look forward to advice on long-term strategy when worst of the crisis is over.

Austria
(1%)
—Concern, especially over imports of UK animals via Germany.

—Health Minister (Haupt) warns against non-essential travel to UK.

—Post web-site carries FMD QandA, myths and links to others eg MAFF and BTA.

—HMA gave press briefings to local journalists which led to some useful coverage.

—HA wrote to all Laender to discourage them from cancelling school visits: some positive responses.

—Post wrote to Austrian Tourist Authority to ask them not to discourage people from going to the UK: positive response.

—Post placed PM's article in mass circulation newspaper (with readership of 10% of the population.

—Initial advice from Health Minister Haupt and some Laender officials against travel, particularly for school groups.

—Lobbying seems to have had some effect: have not seen such advice for two weeks. And have received positive responses to their letters from Governor of Salzburg Province and Austrian Tourist Authority that they are not recommending against travel and are advising their colleagues not to either.

—Press remains mostly factual rather than critical: sympathetic coverage, though this would change if a case appeared here.

Finland (1%)—Initial criticism from Hemila (Agr Min) but tempered after 19 March Agr Council.

—Press coverage now more balanced: some correspondents reporting that the worst may be over.
—FMD QandA in Finnish and Swedish placed on Embassy web-site.

—HMA briefing leading regional and national journalists.

FCO sponsored visit for Finnish radio journalist to visit countryside and speak to MAFF officials, for 30-minute programme on Foot and Mouth due 27 April.

Post working with Finnish Agriculture Ministry on secondment of Finnish vets.
—Few visit cancellations so far but concerns about summer business.

—BA and Finnair have launched major promotions to maintain leisure traffic.
Greece (1%)—No drop-off in bookings from Greece.

—Declining coverage in press—Greeks don't feel threatened by N. European outbreak.
—No specific public diplomacy effort: would arouse concern. But Open For Business message stressed during normal pub dip activities.   
Portugal (1%)—Regular coverage, but no hostility.

—No drop off in travellers.

—Portugal pre-occupied with domestic concerns.
—Pre-emptive article on FMD with "open for business" message in main Lisbon daily and other local papers.

—Messages on BE and BTA web-sites.

—BE resist more pro-active campaign as potentially counter-productive.
—BA report healthy short-term and summer business.
South Africa (1%)—Low-key press coverage, probably reflected by recent outbreak in SA. —Close liaison with BTA and airlines.

—Few enquiries, low-key coverage: BE pub dip campaign would be counter-productive.
—No signs of drop in UK tourism.
Brazil (1% inc rest of Latin America)—Widespread but meas-ured coverage—Brazil familiar with FMD. —Latest information placed on BE website

—Working with BTA to produce articles on UK tourism for local press to underlining key message.

—BE believe more aggressive campaign would be counter-productive.
—No signs of drop in UK tourism.

  Note:  (1) Figures (provided by BTA) refer to 1999; (2) figures represent market share of visits to UK.


 
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