The findings from the International Passenger Survey, released this morning by the Office for National Statistics, reveal a 6 per cent increase in visitor spend to £18.2bn for the 12 months to May 2012, with incoming holiday visitors over the period reaching a record 12.3 million.
Christopher Rodrigues, who chairs the national tourist board, said of the figures: “This is a Gold Medal winning performance by the British Tourism industry just before the opening of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – but the real challenge lies ahead as our global competitors raise their game in response to the job creation opportunity offered by the tourism industry.
“With the eyes of the world upon us, 2012 provides a unique opportunity to showcase the UK’s extraordinary tourism assets – our culture, our history, our countryside, our food and our world-renowned retail brands.
“The GREAT campaign has already carried that message to 90 million residents in 14 of the world’s leading cities and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee provided the world with a taster of what Britain has to offer.”
Don't get complacent...
Launched in January of this year, the GREAT campaign operates under the slogan ‘Share your Great Britain’ and was quickly welcomed by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and key industry figures.
And with the Olympics just around the corner, the UK hospitality industry is set for a huge influx of visitors from across the globe, with many Hotels in London already reporting strong business immediately after the Games.
But despite the positive results, Rodrigues warned hospitality businesses that they must not get complacent during the event and should always be thinking in the long-term.
“The Games provide a wonderful platform, but tourism is a fiercely competitive business and there is no room for complacency,” he added. “The real challenge comes after the Games.
“What is absolutely clear is that to stay a Gold medal winner you have to keep improving your Personal Best performances. So our industry, our tourism promotion agencies and our Government need to work together as never before to raise Britain’s game if we are to continue to be medal winners in the years ahead.”
It was also revealed that VisitBritain is set to roll out the next phase of the GREAT marketing campaign immediately after the Games, with Rodrigues adding: “We are determined to avoid the post Games decline that has hurt so many previous major event organisers.”