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Country News - 2003

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Boom year for rural tourism?

Thursday 13 March 2003

COUNTRYSIDE holidays could be facing a boom this summer as the tense international situation makes overseas holidays look less appealing.

A nationwide poll has shown that the number of towns folk likely to take a rural holiday or visit has grown by more than 50% over a similar poll last year, says the Country Land and Business Association.

The figures have been released as the CLA announces a new campaign to boost rural tourism backed by senior government figures Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael and Tourism Minister Dr Kim Howells.

The CLA and government do not always see eye-to-eye but they have joined forces to launch the campaign, called Rural Tourism: Opportunities for Growth.

Dr Howells said that there was a "golden opportunity to be seized" this summer and Mr Michael said that the more people visited the countryside, the more they would understand the role in conserving it played by farmers and landowners.

In Yorkshire, the CLA's regional director Dorothy Fairburn commented: " "A successful rural economy is one where profitable businesses underpin services, jobs, facilities and landscape.

"Agriculture is no longer the only engine for this. It is increasingly likely in many areas of the county to be tourism."

The CLA is calling for a number of measures to support rural tourism. These Include:

  • A reduction in VAT for rural tourism businesses to bring them into line with their EU competitors: the rate for tourist accommodation in the UK is the second highest in the EU.
  • A more sympathetic approach to planning and
  • More help in marketing the countryside

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