MORE than 4,000 business meetings and seven major seminars highlighted the ninth Destination Britain and Ireland (Debi), the major travel trade event launched recently by VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, in association with Tourism Ireland in Bangkok, Thailand.
‘There were 50 VIP and 120 supplier media interviews with over £100,000 ($154,000) AVE (advertising value equivalent) expected. The initial new business order book estimate is approximately £1 million ($1.5 million),” said Carol Maddison, manager UAE, VisitBritain.
Debi 2012 saw a rise of 46 per cent in new buyers and 36 per cent in new suppliers offering the best of Britain and Ireland to APMEA (Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa) visitors. A total 22 new companies from the UK and Ireland took part in the event showcasing their latest travel and tourism offerings. More than 200 companies and travel industry specialists attended the three-day event.
Debi 2012 also featured seven major seminars highlighting the “seven pillars” of the GREAT Britain campaign: food and drink, sports, culture and heritage, film, shopping, countryside, and music.
“The tourism industry which contributes £115 billion ($178 million) each year to the UK economy and employs 2.6 million people, is a key part of the Great Campaign launched by the Prime Minister in September 2011,” said Keith Beecham, VisitBritain’s overseas networking director.
He continued: “The £27-million ($41 million) government funding is in addition to VisitBritain’s existing £100-million ($155 million) match-funded marketing programme ‘Great Britain, You’re invited’. We are running the largest image campaign in our history in major cities around the world including Australia, China, India and Japan.
“The campaign highlights why Britain is the only place to be throughout the whole of 2012 and inspires world travellers to choose Britain as their next holiday destination. We encourage the APMEA travel trade to take this great opportunity to work with us to bring more visitors to Britain and achieve business success.”
By the end of 2012, VisitBritain expects to lure an extra 750,000 visitors from overseas, with an additional £375 million ($582 million) spend, said Beecham. VisitBritain is also targeting £350 million ($543 million) worth of AVE of international media coverage about Britain.
The opening welcome dinner was based on a British medieval theme to support the ‘Heritage is Great pillar, one of seven pillars of the GREAT campaign.
The evening’s VIPs included Cheryl Gillan MP, Secretary of State for Wales, Jim Paul, head of Australia and Developing Markets from Tourism Ireland, and Asif Anwar Ahmad, British Ambassador to Thailand.
In an interview with TTN, Beecham highlighted that in the first quarter of 2012, there was a four per cent increase in visitors to the UK. “That’s a positive sign,” he said.
“However, what’s even more important is holiday visits increased by eight per cent,” he added.
“While visitors from the Middle East constitute about 2.5 per cent of the whole world, the value of these visitors is three times as much. In other words, a Mideast visitor is worth three times more than any a visitor from any part of the globe,” he explained.
Referring to VisitBritain’s campaign, Beecham said: “It’s not about the Olympic Games. It’s about the seven pillars.
“The ‘GREAT Britain, You’re Invited’ initiative, funded up to £50 million ($77 million) by the government and the rest by private firms, will continue to run until the end of 2014, during which we use the seven themes to motivate consumers.”
“After the Olympics, we will work with our travel partners to introduce tour ideas and holiday experiences,” he added.
The UK expects to attract 30.7 million visitors in 2012, spending £17.6 billion ($27.3 billion) in the process, VisitBritain said in its 2012 visitor forecast.
Previous locations where Debi has been held include Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand (Phuket), China, Australia, Hong Kong, the UAE (Dubai) and India.
By Ravi Kalmady