The UK weather may not be its strongest point, but Britain is expecting even more inbound visitors in 2013, who no doubt will be coming to soak up all the history, shopping, culture, idyllic scenery, castles and ancient landmarks our green and rainy island is famous for.
Recent statistics show that a third of new jobs created in the UK between 2009 and 2011 came from tourism, statistics backed up this week by VisitBritain’s new 2012 annual review. The report outlines how Britain’s official tourist board plans to build on an extraordinary year in the spotlight in 2012 and attract even bigger numbers of visitors to our shores next year..
In fact, inbound tourism is one of Britain’s business great success stories, particularly recently. 2012 has proved to be a stellar year in the media spotlight, kicked off in April 2011 by the Royal Wedding, building on all the publicity this year with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics and Paralympics all of which attracted massive numbers of visitors and TV viewers. And now, with a royal baby on the way for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the spotlight will continue to shine on the world’s most adored royal couple.
In the past twelve months, British tourism has contributed £18.7 billion to the UK economy and in six of these months, Britain welcomed a record number of holiday visitors from overseas. If you translate this into actual figures it means that around 12 million international visitors chose Britain as a holiday destination in 2012. Many of them are timeshare owners from abroad, including the US, who tend to come for a golf-and-sightseeing holiday near a historic city – Edinburgh and London are favourites, while British timeshare owners opting for a staycation style holiday tend to opt for the UK’s scenic spots – Cornwall, the Lake District, Yorkshire and parts of Scotland.
Britain couldn’t have asked for a better year on the sports front, too, with the British team raking in a staggering number of medals at the London Olympics. The Games generated worldwide coverage of Britain’s attractions resulting in around 14,000 positive print and broadcast stories about the UK in the world’s media during the first six months of this financial year alone, equating to over £1.5 billion in advertising.
VisitBritain’s work as an organisation overseas has also contributed £503 million to the UK economy in 2011-12, while its match-funded marketing with partners has resulted in additional bookings worth £89 million.
VisitBritain says it predicts an increase in inbound tourism by 3% for the coming year. Numbers have already increased by 3% in volume and 8% in value since May 2010, with the actual number of people crossing international borders set to pass the one billion mark for the first time this year.
Domestic and international tourism is also UK’s fifth largest employer. That means 2.6 million jobs and a contribution of £115 billion to the economy – in fact in the past two years tourism has accounted for a third of all new employment in the UK.
Launching the review, Chairman of VisitBritain, Christopher Rodrigues said: “This country’s tourism offer is about much more than growth in visitor numbers. Tourism offers not just jobs but careers for life. It employs young people who are now in training to become Ambassadors for Britain, welcoming visitors to their hotels, attractions and shops – taking on the mantle of the Games Makers.
“Tourism is also a key contributor to a country’s image overseas – it influences not just whether people come for a week’s holiday but also what they think of us as a nation, whether they choose to invest in British business and whether they relocate their families to live here and their companies to operate here. Tourism is soft power in action.
“2012 has shown just what Britain can offer. It has re-energised our image overseas and triggered the desire to visit our country. And the best way to do that is to continue the exceptional levels of collaboration between the industry, the public sector and the Government that we saw in 2012. We also need to keep the extraordinary spirit of the Games Makers alive in our visitor welcome”.
Visitor figures this year have offered a good foundation for growth, and VisitBritain expects that despite displacement concerns at the beginning of the year, inbound tourism in 2012 will show growth in the value of visits by up to 6%.