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Destination Reports

Best of Britain goes on show to the world
April 2017 5439

VisitBritain hosted its largest-ever global tourism trade event to promote destination Britain to the world. Now in its third year, ‘ExploreGB’ took place in the southern English city of Brighton. More than 400 international buyers from 40 countries came together to do business with 430 travel industry suppliers from across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at the event held from March 2 to 3 at the Brighton Centre.

Buyers from Britain’s largest and most valuable inbound visitor markets including the US, Germany, France, Canada and Australia attended. Important growth markets including China, the world’s most valuable outbound market, India, Italy and the Gulf countries were represented as well.

UK Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch, remarked on the event’s importance, "ExploreGB is one of the highlights of the tourism industry calendar and a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase world-class attractions from all over the country to a global audience. The UK attracted a record number of visitors to our shores in 2016 and this event will help us build on that success and promote the best of Britain abroad."

Flight bookings to the UK are up 16 per cent for February to April 2017, compared to the same period last year

More than 41,000 business meetings took place across the two-day event. Buyers got to experience tourism products and services first-hand with pre-and-post event trips to destinations across the UK, including for 26 journalists from 16 countries. Delegates attended seminars and networking events to boost their knowledge of Britain as a tourist destination.

VisitBritain showcased its global #OMGB (Oh My GREAT Britain) ‘Home of Amazing Moments’ campaign to delegates during the event to promote the diversity of amazing experiences that visitors can only get in Britain. It is part of the UK Government’s GREAT campaign to promote what makes Britain a great place to visit, study, invest and do business.

Latest figures from VisitBritain show that 2016 was a record-breaker for inbound tourism to the UK with 37.3 million visits, up 3 per cent on 2015 with visitors spending $27.8 billion, matching 2015’s record spend.

VisitBritain chief executive Sally Balcombe, said, “ExploreGB gives UK tourism suppliers and local destinations a valuable opportunity to get their products and services in front of hundreds of international buyers and do business with a broad range of global markets. International delegates will return home in no doubt about the outstanding quality of tourism products and experiences available across our nations and regions and that Britain is open for business.”

The UK tourism industry is worth $159 billion annually to the economy. It is also a job creator, for example, every 22 additional Chinese visitors that come to Britain create an additional job in the sector.  After a successful turnout in 2017, all eyes are set on 2018 and VisitBritain has announced that ExploreGB is to be held in NewcastleGateshead in 2018.

New figures show 2016 a record-breaker for inbound tourism. But the growth story extends beyond 2016. Comparing growth during the last six years shows there were 7.5 million more visits in 2016 than 2010, an increase of 25 per cent. Tourism minister Tracey Crouch adds, “As these record-breaking figures show, the UK is one of the world’s must-visit destinations.  Our country has so much to offer tourists from home and abroad, from thriving cities to stunning scenery and renowned cultural attractions. The industry makes a significant contribution to our economy, and we will continue to support tourism to grow the sector further and promote the UK across the world.”

The figures show a boost in holiday visits to the UK towards the end of 2016 with a record 3.2 million visits from October to December, up 11 per cent on the same period in 2015. Inbound visits to friends and relatives saw strong growth throughout 2016 with a record-breaking 11.5 million visits, up 10 per cent on 2015.

Latest flight booking data shows that 2017 is off to a strong start with flight bookings to the UK up 16 per cent for February to April, compared to the same period last year.

Balcombe adds, “The strong growth in inbound visits demonstrates British tourism's continued ability to compete for international visitors and deliver economic growth across our nations and regions. We must seize the opportunity to build on this, boosting visitor spending by driving home the message of welcome and value particularly in our high spending markets such as China and the US and the valuable European market.”  


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