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 MGP Cancellation is the Final Blow

The Manx Grand Prix cancellation is the final blow to a disastrous season, it is claimed. Judy Arnold, chairman of the tourism committee of the Chamber of Commerce, made the comments after hearing that the August event was scrapped. Fears are also rising that next year's events will be affected as the foot-and-mouth epidemic continues in the UK. Judy said: 'I am saddened and disappointed.

This will be the final blow to a disastrous season. Not only have the races been cancelled but, each time a major cancellation like this is announced, it gives the impression that the Isle of Man is closed to visitors and cancels out the marketing effort. 'People involved in tourism understand the very real fears of the farming community but we had hoped that everyone could work together to find a way to hold events like the MGP.

'Other countries have done this and I am sure we could have succeeded too, given strict precautions at the points of entry to the Island and a real spirit of co-operation. 'We feel that people don't understand the impact foot-and-mouth is having on people involved in tourism and retail businesses.'

The chamber of commerce has also suggested that there is a need for a crisis officer to whom people in business could turn with their problems and worries resulting from the action taken to prevent foot-and-mouth. Judy added: 'The duration of the foot-and-mouth epidemic in the UK, the possibility that it could recur in future and inability to arrive at satisfactory compromise to protect the farmers whilst enabling other sectors to continue in business means that the future of next year's major events must be in question.

'There may need to be a radical review of Isle of Man tourism.' Chris Robertshaw, chairman of the Manx Hospitality Association, said: 'We would wish to emphasis that we have continually requested an open public debate on the issues on the impact and risk of foot-and-mouth disease to the Isle of Man so that agriculture, tourism, the government and the people of the Isle of Man can work together. 'Unfortunately there has been no clear risk assessment so that the people can judge for themselves and there has been a very definite inclination for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to hold its cards extremely close to its chest in regard to the risks.

'This has resulted in people acting emotionally, irrationally and in inappropriate ways.' He believes government should bring in a much more 'balanced approach' in dealing with the situation, which protects both farming and tourism 'rather than favouring one against the other'. He added: 'This balanced approach is something we have asked for from the beginning as we have stated that we believe that the Isle of Man is in a special position, not unlike New Zealand in that we have the capacity to control foot-and-mouth at the various points of entry and continue life internally as near normal as possible. 'Farmers' current attitude clearly indicates they have no confidence in the point of entry controls.

'It has to be clearly understood that the tourist industry has suffered enormous difficulties in 2001 and can't be expected to continue any longer in an environment of such uncertainty.' Mr Robertshaw believes the foot-and-mouth situation will be a continuing saga and is calling for a change in policy. 'If the races next year are in fact cancelled then that effectively brings an end to road racing in the Isle of Man as we know it because nobody would pretend that we can survive two years of cancellations and yet still keep the TT going in 2003 and onwards.'

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