Marbles to attract tourists to decimated south-west

The Marbles PR agency has been appointed by South West Tourism

(SWT) to help save the region's pounds 6bn tourist industry from

foot-and-mouth ruin.

SWT has released government money from its emergency 'recovery budget'

to pay the agency to spearhead a national media campaign aimed at

enticing visitors back to the region.

'There is a degree of urgency about the campaign as we are now into our

busiest season and have only a narrow time frame to reverse the damage

to the tourism industry here,' said SWT head of operations Simon

Bradley, who said the appointment was made without pitch.

'We looked at several agencies and believed Marbles can work to our

timescale and reverse the misconceptions among potential visitors about

the foot-and-mouth crisis in the region,' he added.

Marbles' brief begins with immediate effect and the contract lasts until


Director Lindsey Maher will lead a team of seven and reports to Bradley,

who, together with his two SWT in-house PROs, will offer support.

'This is to be a very fast moving, proactive, comprehensive media

campaign and we will be targeting national and regional broadcast and

print media to put over the facts about the effect of the disease to a

wide ranging audience,' said Maher.

The main focus of the brief is to give facts as to what attractions are

open to visitors, 'be they day-trippers or on longer breaks'.

'The campaign will aim to encourage tourists to visit during the Easter

period and beyond,' added Maher.

Like other areas in the country affected by foot-and-mouth, bookings by

tourists to the south-west of England - which is comprised of the seven

counties of the former Avon Gloucestershire, Dorset, Wiltshire,

Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly - are severely down

and many tourist enterprises are predicting ruin.

Devon has been hardest hit with some of the highest cases of the disease


However, Bradley says the public are unaware that most of the regions

attractions exist 'in cities or on the coast which are free of


'Misconceptions about the current situation are keeping tourists away

and businesses connected with tourism are suffering. We needed to turn

that around very quickly,' said Bradley.

Nationally, the British Tourist Authority is seeking agency help to

combat adverse publicity of Britain as a holiday destination. Hill &

Knowlton, Weber Shandwick and GCI are competing for the account.

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