National tourism agencies VisitBritain and VisitEngland have welcomed the Coalition Government’s Tourism Policy published 4 March 2011.
The new Policy offers a series of action points ranging from exploiting upcoming sporting and cultural event opportunities, to improving Britain’s tourism visas, market intelligence, the industry’s services skill set and technology and cross-industry communication.
VisitBritain’s Chief Executive Sandie Dawe says the Tourism Policy sets out VisitBritain’s own top priority: To deliver a four-year match funded global marketing programme which takes advantage of the opportunity of the Royal Wedding, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Games to showcase Britain and attract new visitors.
This campaign is expected to attract four million extra visitors to Britain spending an additional £2bn, while helping to create 50,000 new jobs.
The new Tourism Policy also sets out to make Britain one of the five most efficient and competitive visitor economies in the world. Tourism contributes £115bn each year to the UK economy and employs 2.6m people.
“Our 30m inbound visitors make tourism the UK’s third largest earner of foreign exchange and the industry has the potential to be one of the five fastest growing sectors of the UK economy,” Dawe points out.
“Britain needs to focus on attracting visitors from key emerging markets such as China, Brazil India and Russia as well as anchoring our performance in the markets that deliver tourism revenues today such as the USA and Northern Europe.
“We should look at our key competitors and ask why France attracted eight times more visitors from China last year than Britain, and Germany six times more visitors.”
VisitBritain and VisitEngland also approve of key tourism areas highlighted for review including modernisation of the star rating system and moving the May Bank Holiday to the Autumn.
Additionally, the Tourism Policy outlines the need to work closely with the emerging Local Enterprise Partnerships, Destination Management Organisations and the private sector. Key responsibilities attributed to national tourism agencies include:
- Working with local providers and industry to assist local tourism in achieving its potential;
- Providing insights and market intelligence which facilitate growth;
- Encouraging the achievement of best value across England by facilitating partnerships between public service providers;
- Leading a pan-England marketing strategy leveraging England’s best assets to ultimately inspire more Brits to holiday at home.
“A dedicated Government Tourism Policy for this country is a great step in the right direction,” says VisitEngland’s Chief Executive James Berresford. “We welcome the mandate the policy gives VisitEngland and its endorsement of our current strategy. We look forward to working with the Tourism Minister and the industry in a united partnership to grow tourism and ensure the success of one of the UK’s most important and dynamic industries.”
While several recommendations are levelled at public services, the Tourism Policy also highlights the Government’s focus on involving the private sector in the promotion of UK destinations.
Marketing Birmingham, the body responsible for promoting the city as a visitor and business destination, says it already has a strong track record in making such a structure work. As a public/private sector partnership, it has an almost 50/50 funding spilt and key private sector bodies – such as Birmingham Airport, The NEC Group, Crowne Plaza, as well as Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers, sit on its board and provide strategic and commercial direction.
“For too long the tourism industry has been undervalued as a driver of the UK economy,” says Operations and Policy Director at Marketing Birmingham, Tim Manson. “The new strategy recognises the vital role tourism plays in rebalancing the economy and its ability to efficiently and rapidly drive growth, employment and regeneration in all parts of the country.
“The visitor economy is significant for Birmingham. Its growing reputation as a city break destination saw it welcome 32.6m visitors in 2009 – an increase of 400,000 from the previous 12 months, contributing to a visitor economy worth £4.6 billion,” he adds.
Consultation will now begin on any possible changes to the UK’s tourism strategy but no moves are expected until 2013.
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