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Clinton joins UK tourism campaign

Clinton is among the celebrities recruited for Britain's tourism revival campaign
Clinton is among the celebrities recruited for Britain's tourism revival campaign  

LONDON, England -- Bill Clinton will soon be singing Britain's praises, encouraging tourists to visit the isles despite the recent foot-and-mouth epidemic.

The former U.S. president is among the celebrities enlisted by the British Tourist Authority (BTA) to help lure overseas visitors back to the UK, after images of burning pyres of animal carcasses prompted them to avoid Britain's countryside.

Hollywood director Ridley Scott and British tennis ace Tim Henman have also been recruited for the campaign, which will include TV and magazine advertising.

Foot-and-mouth will cost the UK tourism industry an estimated 5 billion ($7.2 billion), according to the government.

"Stars from the worlds of politics, entertainment and sport will give their endorsements that the UK is open for business on Web sites and in our literature," a BTA spokeswoman told Reuters.

Clinton is a friend of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and made an appearance at this summer's Wimbledon lawn tennis championships, where Henman advanced to his third semi-final in four years.

Scott, known on both sides of the Atlantic for his films "Alien," "Blade Runner," "Thelma and Louise," and this year's "Hannibal," is a British native who studied at London's Royal College of Art and began his career at the BBC.

Other celebrity spokesmen will include former Formula 1 world racing champion Jackie Stewart of Scotland, UK Olympic rowing champion Sir Steve Redgrave and BBC TV's "Naked Chef" Jamie Oliver.

For the campaign, Clinton -- whose daughter Chelsea is to follow in her father's footsteps and study at Oxford -- wrote: "Wherever I've visited in Britain, I've always received a warm and genuine welcome. In fact, I spent the happiest years of my life in Oxford and, with Chelsea studying there, it would be great to go back."

Likewise, Stewart has penned a tribute to his native Scotland for use by the BTA: "The Western Highlands of Scotland are my most favourite areas in the world. The Island of Skye and the Cuillins are magnificent in their grandeur. Glen Coe appeals to me because of its ruggedness and the incredible feelings it evokes."

Loch Lomond, Stewart wrote, was "blessed with the magnificence of mountains and water that together create such majesty."

His and Clinton's words, and those of dozens of other celebrity "ambassadors," will be available for use by tourist offices in Britain and around the world when the campaign to attract tourists begins.

The campaign is expected to be launched in the autumn, once government officials are satisfied the foot-and-mouth outbreak is on the wane.

Foot-and-mouth disease has been confirmed at more than 2,000 farms since the outbreak was discovered in Britain in February.

Although it appears to be diminishing, new outbreaks have forced more culls of sheep and cattle and the reopening of a mass grave for slaughtered animals in northeast England.

The outbreak forced the closure of much of Britain's countryside for a time, and led to the slaughter of nearly four million animals.

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