The tourism organisation’s activities in 2013/2014 have generated £1.8bn in extra visitor spend, and the agency reached £43m of its four-year £50m partnership funding target.
The ‘GREAT’ campaign objectives were set in 2011 by the government, aiming to deliver a £100m marketing campaign over four years – £50m of which would be generated from partnership funding – to attract 4m additional visitors, extra tourist spending of £2bn and create of 50,000 new jobs.
The first seven months of 2014 have been the strongest in the history of inbound tourism to the UK, with 19.8m visits to Britain from January to July - an increase of 7 per cent compared to the same period in 2013.
However, visits dropped by 2 per cent in August, bringing the year-to-date result down to just a 6 per cent rise. Inbound tourism spend continued to perform well that month, increasing by 7 per cent.
Visitor spend has increased by 1 per cent so far this year, despite being forecast to grow by over 6 per cent a year across the rest of this decade.
Mike Saul, head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays, said: “Despite the surprising dip in year on year numbers for August, the overall picture throughout most of 2014 is one of growing visitor numbers and spend. A rich culture, highly sought-after retail offering and top leisure facilities continue to attract an increasing number of overseas visitors.”
According to VisitBritain in 2013, the country received a record 32.8m inbound visits and tourism revenues grew by 13 per cent, with international visitors contributing £24bn to the UK economy.
The value of inbound tourism to Scotland and various regions of England growing by 20 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, and 12 per cent in London.
To achieve these results, VisitBritain teamed up with brands including British Airways, EasyJet, Virgin Atlantic, P&O Ferries, Expedia, Yahoo! and the Barclays Premier League, and secured £4m of free advertising space at Heathrow Airport.
In 2014/2015, the agency will be launching a new three-year £3m ‘Countryside is GREAT’ campaign to showcase the British regions, and increase marketing efforts in emerging markets such as China, India and the Gulf states.
VisitBritain is scheduled to announce details of its largest-ever consumer marketing campaign in China, worth £1.6m, later this year.
Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of VisitBritain said: “Delivering a record year for inbound tourism is a tribute to the industry, our commercial partners and the National Boards who have supported our activity. VisitBritain is proud to have played its part, particularly in its delivery of the GREAT campaign and bringing in private sector funding to maximise Government’s investment in tourism – Britain’s fifth largest export industry.
“Every action we take is inspired by a simple motivation: to add value to the inbound tourism industry and drive economic growth across Britain’s nations and regions. The last year has seen this happen and we want to continue that story of success and growth to achieve our ambition of 40 million inbound visitors by 2020.”