VisitBritain cuts 70 posts and reduces activity in business tourism

VisitBritain has announced 70 posts will be
cut at the national tourism board, adding in a statement 9 February, it is to “reduce its level of
business tourism activity”. The agency will also reduce budgets, with its
finance, IT, HR and communications operations hit in particular.

The lease on Lower Regent
Street for the
and London Visitor Centre expires in 2012 and will not be renewed. VisitBritain
and VisitEngland will remain co-located at their offices at 1
Palace Street in London.

The agency will cut overheads
internationally by reducing its presence from 35 markets to 21 overseas markets,
based in 24 key cities. These markets account for 80 per cent of inbound tourism

The emphasis in the global
marketing will now be on markets such as China and Russia,
the agency said, where business and leisure operators are one and the

VisitBritain said it will still
provide a bid support service to attract international conferences, conventions
and major sporting events.

A four-year match funded global
marketing campaign will be launched and the agency said it plans to use major
events such as the Royal Wedding, the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic and
Paralympic Games to deliver an
additional £2bn of visitor spend and an extra 50,000 jobs. The ramping up of
this campaign comes as part of an
overall agreement with VisitBritain
sponsoring department, the
Department for Culture, Media and

The organisational changes, the
agency said, are designed to address the 34 per cent cut to VisitBritain’s
budget announced in October 2010. “The changes include reducing functions,
activity and the numbers of markets in which it has a presence to ensure the
maximum funds are allocated to marketing,” a VisitBritain statement said.

VisitBritain says its review of
activity has been designed to ensure that it:

  • Delivers the Britain marketing programme, in partnership with the private sector;
  • Focuses investment on those markets which offer the best immediate return and best future prospects for Britain;
  • Delivers insights, trends and industry performance research;
  • Maintains a streamlined advisory role in line with its statutory duty to advise Government on tourism.

Digital and social
media, PR, marketing and
relationships with 2012 stakeholders remain a priority, the agency was keen to
underline, and its online retail service will be

VisitBritain says the proposed
changes will lead to an overall reduction of between 25 and 30 per cent of
posts, around 70 jobs. Staff consultation is underway and the agency said a
final outcome should be clear by the
end of April.

VisitBritain CEO Sandie Dawe
said: “This proposed new structure and focus reflects our priorities and is in
line with our four-year funding settlement. Our goal is to maximise the tourism
opportunities of hosting a raft of major iconic events over the next two years.
We need to ensure that this clarity of focus is supported by the right structure
and skills. I have every confidence in the professionalism and passion of my
team to deliver on our ambitions and for our partners and the whole tourism

VisitBritain says the countries it will withdraw its operations from are: Argentina, Czech
Republic, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong* (to China), Hungary, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New
Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, South
Africa and Thailand.

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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