The tourism industry suffered unnecessary damage from foot-and-mouth in 2001 because of government mistakes in handling the disease, the culture secretary James Purnell admitted yesterday. The government is determined to learn its lesson from the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak, he said. Gordon Brown´s emphasis that “Britain is open for business” is designed to reduce the impact of the disease on the £85bn-a-year sector. Tourism is the country´s fifth biggest industry.This year´s outbreak is so far on a tiny scale compared with 2001, when 6.5m animals had to be slaughtered. The government accepts that it exacerbated the £5bn loss the tourism industry suffered that year, through the burning pyres image of Britain that was created.?The closure of footpaths and roads, and even the pictures of what was happening, created a much greater impression of problems than even then was justified,” said Mr Purnell. Two suspected cases of Foot and Mouth in Kent and Surrey have proved unfounded, DEFRA said yesterday.