VisitBritain generates record-breaking visitor spend

International visitors have spent an extra £2.5 billion in Britain during the last four years as a result of work by the national tourism agency VisitBritain, latest figures show.

This beats the target set for it by the UK Government in 2011 by more than half a billion pounds, and means that every £1 invested in VisitBritain’s activities has resulted in an overseas visitor spending £21 in Britain.

And to this can be added the £630 million delivered by VisitBritain, thanks to its continuing role as a partner in the cross-UK Government GREAT campaign.

Overall inbound tourism, Britain’s third largest service export and one of its fastest growing, was worth more than £26 billion to the UK economy in 2013. The industry is also a major job creator, for example every 22 additional Chinese visitors that come to Britain create an additional job in the sector.

Welcoming the UK Government Minister for Tourism Tracey Crouch to today’s launch of its annual review for 2014-15, VisitBritain chair Christopher Rodrigues said: “We have contributed to another record year for inbound tourism numbers and spend. Inbound tourism is clearly a key economic driver, creating growth and jobs right across Britain.

“We will continue to deliver award-winning campaigns, build partnerships to extend our impact, make it easy for people to get here by building air route connectivity and supporting the development of a bookable, integrated transport system which is easy for the international customer to understand and use. 

“Everything we do is motivated by the goal to add value to the inbound tourism industry, maximising the taxpayers’ investment in tourism, and driving economic growth across the nations and regions ensuring that the economic benefits of tourism are felt across the whole of Britain.”

Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch said: “VisitBritain has done fantastic work to promote UK tourism to overseas visitors.  There are a multitude of  wonderful cultural and heritage sites on offer throughout the UK which I’m delighted that overseas visitors are enjoying.  However, there is always more to do and this Government is committed to supporting the tourism industry, and through the 5 Point Plan for tourism, we will ensure these economic benefits are spread throughout the country.”

While London continues to appeal to visitors from all around the world, recent numbers show that international tourism growth is now faster in the nations and regions. In 2014 visits to Wales were up 7% on 2013 (from 869k to 932k);   Scotland 12% (from 2.4m to 2.7m); England 5% (13.5m to 14.2m – excluding London) and London 4% (17.4m to 18.8m).

Announcing the figures at its annual review launch today, VisitBritain also re-iterated its ambition for international visits to Britain to grow by more than 20% during the next five years to 42 million by 2020. This could see an additional £4.5 billion in visitor spend.

The agency will be working to ensure that its major markets for regional exploration – Europe, the USA and Australia – continue to deliver, as well as competing for the new growth markets of tourism such as China, Brazil and the Gulf.

The first seven months of 2015 are on track towards this target, breaking all previous records for inbound tourism numbers, with more than 20 million visits to Britain from January to July – a 3% increase compared to the same period last year. The North American market continues to show recovery with an increase of 15% during June compared to the previous year, with the number of visits 4% higher in the first six months of 2015, compared to the start of 2014.

Another record for the first six months of any year has been set by the 9.8 million visits from the UK’s largest visit-generating region, the EU15 countries (58% of all inbound visits are from this region), a 3% increase than in the first half of 2014.

Key achievements include:

VisitBritain has raised £62.5 million in cash and in-kind during the last four years from commercial partners including British Airways and Expedia, as well as  global brands including the  Barclays

Premier League, raising Britain’s profile and turning potential visitors’ aspiration to visit into bookings;

Its continued presence as a frontrunner in the digital space, ranking first among key competitors in number of Twitter followers (300k) and third for Facebook fans (3 million) and Weibo followers

(510,000);

Sales from the tourism agency’s online shop, VisitBritain Shop, are also soaring, with £1.6m profit invested back into the agency’s marketing activity last year.
Working closely with the travel trade to make sure more of Britain features in operators’ itineraries. In 2014/15 VisitBritain organised eight trade missions in the US, Asia and Europe. Between

them, 600 UK delegates met with over 800 qualified buyers from more than 40 markets. It also launched ExploreGB, which brought together 250 international buyers with 350 UK tourism suppliers,

and its largest ever event in the Americas region just last month. Its research shows that almost 60% of trade surveyed this year have introduced new products as a result, with £888m in additional

visitor spend generated during the last four years;

Generating positive coverage in international media worth £980m to inspire readers to visit Britain (including £245million for Scotland; £300million for English regions and £30million in Wales);
A stand-out success this year was its largest ever consumer marketing campaign in China worth £1.6million. The China is GREAT Naming campaign was seen by more than 300 million people

across VisitBritain’s global social media channels, and won global awards at Cannes Lions d’or, amongst others. The next stage of this campaign under the Culture is GREAT banner was launched

by the Chancellor George Osborne in China in late September, and will promote memorable ‘moments’ international visitors can only get in Britain.