The national tourist board aims to showcase the ‘highlights’ of Britain to the overseas tourism chiefs during the London 2012 Olympics. The tour takes place just months after hoteliers in the UK have been advised to market themselves towards guests from emerging world markets, including Brazil.
“We organised our World Travel Leaders Summit to take place during the greatest sporting and cultural festival in British history,” said VisitBritain’s chief executive Sandie Dawe.
“It is a fantastic opportunity to show influential tourism chiefs the sheer diversity of what Britain can offer overseas holidaymakers.
“The Opening Ceremony has already provided a stunning advert for Britain and we want to build on that and ensure that the travel trade is featuring Britain in its brochures and selling Britain to its customers.”
Best of Britain tour
Before the Summit, VisitBritain’s directors will escort the delegates on tours of Bath, the Cotswolds, Liverpool, the Lake District, Scotland and Wales.
Highlights of the tours will include private visits to Cardiff Castle and dinner at Park House cooked by Michelin-starred chef Roger Jones; The Beatles Story and Lowther Castle in Liverpool and the Lakes; a private tour of Blenheim Palace and dinner at Bath’s Pump Room in the Cotswolds; the opening night of the Edinburgh Tattoo, a malt whisky tasting and a seaplane ride to Loch Lomond.
After the tours of the regions, the business leaders will meet VisitBritain’s chairman Christopher Rodrigues in London to talk about both the opportunities and the barriers to selling Britain abroad.
During the weekend of the Summit, there will be a networking evening at Harrods for delegates to meet VisitBritain’s marketing partners and Tourism Minister John Penrose to talk about how all the partners can work together to grow inbound tourism to Britain.
Finally, on Sunday the delegates will visit the Olympic Park and watch some of the Games to experience the atmosphere.
Emerging world markets
Delegates include tourism chiefs from leading tourism and travel companies TUI Europe, Thomas Cook India, CAISSA Touristic from China, Globus and the Japan Association of Travel Agents.
New data from online travel company Expedia reveals that bookings through more than 100 Expedia and Hotels.com branded sites from Singapore to the UK grew 196 per cent in 2011 compared to the previous year while they went up 172 per cent and 160 per cent from South Korea and Brazil respectively.
Seamus MacCormaic of Expedia Lodging Partner Services said: “There’s no doubt that events in 2012 will attract both global attention and global tourists. However, we want to assist hoteliers in building a strategy that takes them beyond the end of July.”
Prior to that, Russian Olympic legends both past and present were invited to visit tourist spots in Britain as part of a marketing programme to tap into Russia’s outbound industry, predicted to be worth £18bn.
Las Iguanas & Brazil
One hospitality business already attempting to capture an emerging world market is Las Iguanas. The Mexican restaurant chain is running a series of promotions in a bid to boost custom from Brazilian tourists.
“We’re running some Brazillian promotions tied in with the summer period,” Lucy Harwood, Las Iguanas’ marketing manager, told BigHospitality. “We’re tied up with Rio, which has the Olympics in 2016 and the World Cup in 2014.
“We’re just about to launch our big summer promotion which is all about living life as a Rio resident. That will be our prime promotion running through the summer. Lots of people are already in London from Brazil for the Olympics.”
Meanwhile, recent revelations that inbound tourism to Britain has delivered all-time record revenue to Britain over the past year has been hailed a ‘gold medal-winning performance’by VisitBritain’s chairman, but he also warns that the industry must not get complacent ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.