March 5, 2009


Economic sustainability in most developed nations is fueled by the growth of the tourism industry. The tourism sector comprises around 30 percent of international services trade in many nations. Many member-countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development can obtain 70 percent of revenues from various tourism and hospitality activities (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development 2006). The United Kingdom as a member, ranks sixth among the world's major tourist destinations. In 2003, the country recorded 24.8 million tourists. Tourism is an essential aspect of economic and social prosperity in the British society. When tourists enter the country, they bring in money and tourists in the United Kingdom provided about $17.2 million additional income to the country in 2003 as well (Tourism in the United Kingdom 2006). Furthermore, Thompson et. al. (n.d.) reported that the tourism sector in the country employs more than 7 percent of the population and contributes 4.7 percent to the gross domestic product (p. 3). According to Roe et. al. (2004) tourism is adversely affected by changes in economic conditions of the originating markets and international visitors are vulnerable to situations like civil unrest, crime, political instability and natural disaster in the destination country   (p. 14).

            The Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in 2001 can be considered a natural disaster that struck United Kingdom and shocked the world while leaving severe losses and adverse results to agriculture, to the economy and to the tourism industry in the country. FMD is an "acute viral infection causing fever and blisters mainly on the feet and mouths of cloven-hoofed farm animals such as cattle, swine, sheep and goats" (Blake, Sinclair and Sugiyarto 2001, p.2). The outbreak was managed by the British government through selective slaughter for those animals infected by the disease which accounted to about 4 million, restrictions for livestock transfers and export ban. The estimated losses to agriculture and food chain amounted to around 3.1 billion pounds (Thompson et. al. n.d., p. 2). When the outbreak of the disease was confirmed, the British Ministry of Fisheries and Food imposed a "restricted, infected area" that included about ten kilometers around the infected estates and territories. Moreover, the government decided to close country paths to prevent the spread of the disease. About 70 percent of British waterways and 2000 miles of inland waterway networks were closed from the public. These closures included various tourist attractions such as zoos, safari parks, country houses and even the Stonehenge. City hotel bookings were cancelled (Blake, Sinclair and Sugiyarto 2001, p. 7), trips were either postponed or cancelled, and many possible tourists from other countries feared the general safety of food in the country (Thompson n.d.),


            From the above facts, it can be deduced that the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001 brought severe losses to the tourism industry, both local and overseas, due to cancellation of trips, decline in number of visitors and decrease of tourist expenditures coming to the country and augmenting the national income. This research seeks to answer the specific research question "What are the negative impacts on tourism of the Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001?" The question is deemed important as it tackles one inevitable disaster that can recur anytime. According to Alderson (2001) FMD first affected Britain in 1839 and was recognized as a notofiable disease in the country in 1871. There was a minor outbreak in 1981 and a major one in 1967. However, the 2001 outbreak was considered as the most serious that affected vast areas of the country. These facts provide proofs that FMD is likely to occur again in the future and there is a need for as much information as there can be as to its causes, prevention and control measures, and effects so that the British government and public can be prepared. The study is also premised on the fact that tourism is an essential part of British economy that should be preserved, promoted and enhanced to ensure continuous prosperity for all British citizens. This study seeks to provide a body of knowledge on some of the adverse effects on tourism of the FMD outbreak in 2001 for reference to further studies and future policies on calamities like this.







            The study entitled "A Research Proposal on the Negative Impacts on Tourism of the Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001" is an attempt to gather available data on the adverse effects of the outbreak to the number of tourists and tourist expenditures to the United Kingdom during the period of the outbreak. The study will utilize the exploratory research design in gathering the data for the study though review of available literature on the issue and interview to some tourist officials. Exploratory research is warranted when an interesting issue has not been subject to a complete definition from prior theory or empirical research (Schwab 2005, p. 295).  This type of research typically depends on secondary data such as available literature or qualitative research techniques such as informal discussions with people who have knowledge on the topic, interviews, case studies, and focused group methods (Wikipedia 2006). Findings from exploratory research best serve as a basis for additional research or as significant contribution to established data on the issue                          (Schwab 2005, p. 295).  This method is deemed applicable to the current study since the topic has been discussed and researched by few people before but still a complete description on the situation is hardly evident. Thus, the researcher aspires to supplement the existing literature on the topic with this research attempt.  

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