Scottish ministers are to reopen large areas of Scotlandés countryside as of today as areas north of the Clyde-Forth line were declared "provisionally disease-free".

However, the UK tourist season as a whole is being badly affected by uncertainty over the length of the foot-and-mouth crisis. Even the Scottish tourist industry stands to lose up to £335m from the epidemic, with hotels and guest houses in disease-free regions reporting drops in bookings.

The British Tourist Authority says Easter bookings have already been badly affected and that the impact of the crisis could drag on into the summer and autumn. Hoteliers and holiday agencies in badly affected areas, such as Cumbria, have been inundated by cancellations for holidays booked as far ahead as August.

The chief executive of agency Farm Stay UK says tourists should continue to take farm holidays as earnings from tourism are now more crucial than ever to farmersé livelihoods and risks to animals from responsible visitors are minimal.

Financial Times 24/3/01 page 3

The Daily Telegraph 24/3/01 page 6

The Times 24/3/01 page 9, page 4 (Travel section)

The Guardian 24/3/01 page 27 (In Brief,Travel section)