Charles urges tourists to visit flood-hit areas
The Prince of Wales has urged tourists to visit the areas of Britain hardest hit by this winter's devastating floods, while highlighting concerns over climate change.
Charles hailed the resilience of communities across Britain that have bounced back despite floods wreaking "devastation and heart-breaking losses", and called on the wider public to support the recovery by booking holidays at home this spring.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the keen environmentalist said he understood the difficulties faced by those living in rural communities who must cope "with both shifts in the wider economy and the ever more extreme vagaries of the weather, thanks to dangerously accelerating climate change".
But he added: "There is no doubt in my mind that the best way to help flooded areas recover is by people continuing to visit and stay in these beautiful places in order to keep the vital local businesses going."
In December, England, Wales and Scotland all were battered by several severe winter storms that brought deluge after downpour, with some areas inundated several times in the space of a week.
Met Office figures released on Wednesday showed Britain saw the second wettest winter on record with a total rainfall of 529 mm.
It was only surpassed by the winter of 2013/2014, where a total of 545mm was recorded.
Hotels, bed and breakfasts, businesses and attractions in Britain's most popular beauty spots were destroyed and faced a battle to recover in time for the 2016 holiday season.
The prince said Countryside Fund had been providing help in flood-hit areas and backed Visit England's Countryside is Great campaign, which is encouraging people to choose "staycations".
"From first-hand experience I know this initiative will give a much-needed and welcome boost to our rural economies," Charles said.
Both he and the Duchess of Cornwall recently visited the flood-hit village of Stamford Bridge in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
The prince also welcomed English Tourism Week choice to make 2016 "Year of the Garden" to mark 300 years since the birth of the celebrated garden designer Lancelot "Capability" Brown.
He said: "I think it is important to remember that the gardens designed by Capability Brown, and by many of his successors, were not only designed to sit in harmony with the countryside, they were created to be an integral part of its living and working fabric.
"As such, they have always helped the rural economy in surrounding areas.
"Today, the ability of those magnificent gardens to generate income from visitors makes a real difference to many hard-pressed communities."