The survey of 10,000 tourists from most of Britain’s major inbound markets found that the desire to experience the nation’s countryside and heritage is stronger than ever. But as tourism and hospitality businesses are gearing up for the New Year, other less traditional or new activities are growing in popularity.
“Britain is a tourism destination that offers experiences for every taste,” said VisitBritain’s chief executive Sandie Dawe. “Where else in the world can you watch a top-flight Premier League game in the same afternoon as a tour around a quaint Cotswold village?
“From visiting Edinburgh Castle or dinner in a cosy Welsh pub to a tour of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts followed by a night on the tiles in Newcastle - we have something for the world to enjoy.
The majority of visitors ranked Buckingham Palace first as a ‘dream activity’, including those from America, Russia and China. Catching a panoramic view from the top of the Shard or the London Eye was a second choice for one of our fastest growing markets, South Korea - a country witnessing 45 per cent inbound growth so far in 2013.
Visiting Edinburgh Castle was particularly appealing to those in our established markets of USA, Canada, Australia and Italy who placed it second.
The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, along with VisitBritain’s marketing of Britain as a destination with ‘natural beauty’, seems to have changed perceptions of Britain’s countryside. All countryside- based ‘dream activities’ - such as visiting the Lake District, the Scottish Highlands and Snowdonia - were ranked highly by respondents.
When it comes to food and drink, eating fish and chips tends to split opinion across all markets the most. The Indians rank it as their lowest ‘dream activity’ and the Argentinians, Chinese, Mexicans and Polish all place it second to last. However, enjoying some fresh fish and chips by the sea is particularly desirable for Americans and Canadians, who rank it as their third highest ‘dream activity’ with the Australians not far behind, ranking it fourth.
Usually less positive when it comes to British food, the French surprisingly rank eating in a ‘cosy Welsh pub’ as a top-three dream activity, suggesting a gradual change in attitudes.
Argentinians were revealed as the survey’s ‘party-seekers’, with the highest propensity of all markets to want a night out in Newcastle, followed closely by the Swedes.
Dawe concluded: “Our mixture of new culture and old heritage combines seamlessly to offer a unique experience which is envied across the world and currently enjoyed in record numbers.”