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  12,000 Set to Arrive for TT

Thousands of visitors are expected to travel to the Island this week as the TT festival gets under way. The Steam Packet predicts about 12,000 passengers and 4,000 motorcycles will arrive on its vessels over the fortnight.

A range of activities will be taking place over the next two weeks despite the racing being cancelled. A high-profile multi-media marketing campaign is in operation, aiming to get the message across that the Island is open for business.

Adverts have been running in newspapers, on TV and radio and even the London Underground to attract visitors now and for the rest of the season. Bushy's brewery boss Martin Brunnschweiler said there will be plenty to do for visitors over the TT fortnight.

He said: 'The Bushy's tent will start on Wednesday and we will be open until Friday, June 8. 'All the usual attractions will be going onand we will be having extra bands. We hope the locals will come down to support us as usual.'

Popular attractions such as the Purple Helmets, Red Arrows and the Ramsey Sprint will all go ahead as planned. Track days at Jurby airfield also aim to enable fans to test out their skills in a relatively safe environment. The music festival featuring Van Morrison and the Fun Lovin' Criminals is also expected to attract some of the visitors coming across.

But despite the thousands who will still enjoy the festival atmosphere, the Steam Packet figures are greatly down on last year, when 38,000 passengers came across with 14,100 motorbikes.

Figures for people arriving by plane were not available.

A spokesman for Manx Airlines said: 'Bookings are obviously down. We are still assessing the impact.' But despite the low passenger numbers for the TT period it is hoped the marketing campaign could help to salvage the rest of the season.

Terry Toohey, department of tourism and leisure chief executive, said: 'It could well be this year turns from what could have been a drama into a successful tourist year against all the odds.'

A three-hour broadcast by BBC Radio Merseyside from the Hilton Hotel, Douglas, on Saturday will aim to attract tourists to the Island in the wake of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The show will go out from Swing Easy in the afternoon and will feature an interview with TT commentator Peter Kneale, live broadcasts and reports from the House of Manannan in Peel and Castle Rushen. Alan Jackson, who will be presenting and producing the show, said it was a last-minute arrangement made with the Department of Tourism and Leisure in an effort to market the Island's tourism attractions to people in the North West.

Alan, who worked as programme manager at Manx Radio for seven years during the 1970s, said Saturday's programme would be broadcast between 2pm-5pm on 1485 medium wave.

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