VisitBritain all charged up with biggest-ever marketing plan

VISITBRITAIN is an NTO to watch this year as it goes about a new directive to ensure anticipated media hype over a string of special events translates to four million extra visitors over the next four years.

With a marketing budget of £100 million (US$157.3 million) from now to 2014, comprising 50:50 public and private sector collaboration, the NTO is formalising its biggest-ever marketing campaign, Britain You’re Invited. It is tying up partners, including carriers such a British Airways, and is upping the level of support it gives to travel agents to ensure they take advantage of “a period of unprecedented opportunity to sell Britain” – in the words of VisitBritain’s regional director Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Garry White.

White is referring to the Royal Wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William this Spring, and the Diamond Jubilee marking the Queen’s 60th year on the throne and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.

He said in his 20 years as a destination marketer, this was the first time there was “political will” backing UK inbound tourism. The £50 million budget from government, to be spent solely on marketing, was also a first; usually, VisitBritain would get £35 million for both operation and marketing, he said.

Giving a sneak of Britain You’re Invited, White said: “The premise is simple – an invitation to the world to visit Britain at all levels, ie, businesses invite people to visit Britain, celebrities invite the world to visit Britain and British people inviting visitors to come and enjoy Britain.”

Asian agents are already seeing the effect of the weaker pound translating to more UK-headed passengers and longer stays. Said STA Travel Singapore general manager, Eileen Yee: “We’re seeing people staying five nights in London, from three nights previously. We’re excited to work closer with VisitBritain as we agents ride on media hype, which puts destinations in the mind of clients.”

Diners World Travel Singapore’s director/GM Robert Koh said Britain always had high appeal and anticipated more flights would be required because of the special events.

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