Memorandum submitted by the Foreign and
FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE (FMD): PROACTIVE PUBLIC
1. The role of the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office and diplomatic missions abroad in the provision of information
and promotion of tourism in response to the current outbreak of
FMD; an overview of activity overseas and at home; and ideas to
develop our post-FMD recovery strategy.
2. Since the outbreak of FMD earlier this
year the FCO has been engaged in an intensive public diplomacy
campaign to promote the message that Britain is open for business
and to correct misunderstandings about FMD. The FCO and diplomatic
missions overseas have been working closely on this campaign with
other Government Departments, the British Tourist Authority, the
British Council, British Trade International and the travel industry.
3. Posts have calibrated their public diplomacy
strategies to take account of local circumstances. In North America,
for example, where the impact on tourism has been severe, partly
due to the many factual misunderstandings about FMD:
the Ambassador has appeared regularly
on the national television channels;
every Consul General is giving interviews
to local TV and radio broadcasters and targeting key multipliers;
all of the Press and Public Affairs
network is working energetically with the BTA, representatives
of the British tourist industry and other promotional agencies
to counter the adverse publicity; and
recent high level visitors, including
Ms Janet Anderson, the Minister for Tourism, Mr Henry McLeish,
Scottish First Minister and a senior CBI delegation have reinforced
the message, through interviews and meetings with the travel trade.
4. Elsewhere, for example, in the developing
world a more low-key approach has been appropriate. Visitors from
the developing world (who make up less than 5 per cent of all
tourism to the UK) mainly come here to study or visit relatives
in cities. Often these visitors are familiar with FMD from their
own countries and know it is not a risk to human health. Posts'
strategies in these countries have typically involved placing
the latest information on the post website and producing articles
for the local press.
5. Annex A shows in more detail the action
taken by our overseas posts in 22 countries accounting for 88
per cent of our £12.8 billion tourist industry.
6. The FCO is playing a full part in the
daily cross-Whitehall co-ordination of FMD briefing. We are collaborating
closely with other Government Departments and Agencies, especially
the DCMS, British Tourist Authority, English Heritage and Historic
Houses Association. We have helped develop a No 10/News Co-ordination
Centre/DCMS/FCO news grid to work up pro-tourism messages here
targeted at the foreign press. There is still much to do, especially
in promoting positive messages to the UK-based international media
and foreign embassies.
7. The work of International Press Section
(IPS) in the FCO is an integral part of this strategy. It falls
into three main categories:
briefings for London-based correspondents
for foreign media organisations, and foreign embassy press attaches;
feature articles and photographs
provided through the London Press Service; and
visit programmes for overseas journalists.
8. Annex B
gives full details of IPS' recent FMD-related activities, which
an exclusive briefing by the Prime
Minister for CNN/NBC;
US and European correspondents included
in a briefing given by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media
and Sport; and
a briefing by the British Tourist
Authority and Press Association to foreign correspondents on the
extent to which the countryside remains accessible.
9. Press attaches in foreign embassies in
London are included in these briefings. In addition, the Minister
of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr Brian Wilson,
invited nine foreign Ambassadors from our key tourism markets
to a briefing on 11 April. Countries that provide 69 per cent
of the UK's international tourist market were represented. Ms
Joyce Quin, Minister of State, MAFF, Mr David Quarmby, Chairman
British Tourist Authority, and Mr Fred Landeg, Senior Vet, MAFF
joined Mr Wilson in the briefing.
TV and Radio News Feeds and Features
10. British Satellite News (BSN), the FCO's
dedicated daily TV news service, feeds a 10 minute bulletin Monday
to Thursday, and a 20 minute bulletin on Friday, to a global network
of TV newsrooms via six satellites. Four hundred and forty five
TV stations in 125 countries receive the BSN bulletins. The bulletins
are made up of four stories: News/Analysis/Business/Feature. Since
the beginning of April BSN has been carrying a daily tourist feature.
The editorial team is working closely with the DCMS, the BTA and
English Heritage on the choice of stories. For example BSN has
sent crews to cover each day of the World Travel Leaders' Summit.
They have covered the opening up of key tourist venues such as
Stonehenge, Osborne House and Blenheim Palace and on St George's
Day plan a special on Stratford-on-Avon. The plan is to continue
with tourist features for the next few weeks.
11. London Radio Service (LRS), the FCO's
radio news service, provides news stories to radio newsrooms around
the world. It produces bulletins from Monday to Friday, updated
at least three times a day, in English, Russian, Arabic, Latin-American
Spanish, Brazilian-Portuguese and French. LRS also produces a
version of the English bulletin targeted for the North American
market. The bulletins are used by thousands of broadcasters in
more than 120 countries.
12. LRS coverage of FMD and tourism started
on 22 February and has featured some 75 short news stories since
then. LRS is increasing the number of positive features about
tourism, transport, food and agriculture. This is in addition
to the regular coverage which includes technology, health, business,
sport and the arts.
13. Annex C* gives a breakdown of recent
relevant stories on both BSN and LRS.
14. In mid-April we started production of
our overseas posts of weekly round-ups of positive news stories
about the UK. The aim is to provide a succinct overview of developments
across all Government Departments, with the latest facts and figures,
which should serve as a useful quarry for our Press and Public
Affairs Officers overseas.
15. Posts' websites are a key source of
information for overseas visitors to the UK. FCO and post websites
receive over 780,000 page impressions each week. We update the
FCO website every day, and help posts update theirs, to ensure
that the latest FMD facts and hyperlinks are available. All posts
have linked their websites to key sites in the UK, eg No 10, MAFF,
Open Britain and DCMS.
Other work to fight FMD and sustain tourism
16. With Cabinet Office, we continue to
work through EU posts and UKRep Brussels to try to ensure that
handling of FMD in the EU provides endorsement for our policies
and protects our interests. We got good endorsement for our measures
at the Stockholm informal European Council. We are helping to
recruit foreign vets and slaughtermen from abroad: 161 foreign
vets are in the UK at present. That represents more than a tenth
of all vets (1,519) working on FMD. We have also supported MAFF's
efforts to secure other help from overseas, eg bolt-guns for humane
17. We are also working alongside MAFF,
DTI and British Trade International to lobby against third country
bans on the legitimate export of products which pose no FMD risk
and we are helping MOD negotiate terms on which they can continue
to exercise and conduct operations overseas in light of concerns,
especially in Canada and the US, that they might spread FMD.
18. We, DCMS and the BTA agree that success
in rebuilding tourism will depend largely on progress in restoring
confidence by demonstrating that the relevant authorities have
successfully tackled FMD. Once we can convey this message we aim
to ratchet up our public diplomacy campaign at home and in key
foreign markets. We are discussing the elements of this campaign
through the central co-ordination process and are working on a
joint tourism promotion strategy.
19. Beyond that, we will be reviewing our
longer term public diplomacy strategy to ensure that it is fully
adapted to requirements post-FMD.
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