2012-10-16 — / — VisitBritain has launched a consultation on a growth strategy for inbound tourism to Britain, with an ambition to reach 40 million visitors by 2020, a 3% year on year increase. The strategy shows how aligning marketing and Government policy can deliver an economic legacy, building on Britain’s successful hosting of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Reaching that figure would deliver £8.7 billion additional foreign exchange earnings at today’s prices, and support more than 200,000 additional jobs.

The strategy builds on the unparalleled showcasing of Britain around the world during the London 2012 Games. TV viewers have seen a country that can not only deliver a great Games, but can also welcome the world and host a great party. Initial reports indicate this international coverage has positively shifted perceptions of Britain, particularly our creativity, heritage and culture, arts and music and welcome.

Christopher Rodrigues, Chairman of VisitBritain, said: “This summer has shown what the country can do when we are united in a common cause. This country showed passion, professionalism, drive and energy to stage the best ever Olympic and Paralympic Games. The test now is whether we can maintain this to create wealth and jobs through a major tourism drive.

“This consultation with the industry, the public agencies and multiple Government departments that care about tourism and impact on its success has been designed to identify shared priorities and potential partnerships. International tourism is a growth industry but the global marketplace is getting tougher as other countries have recognised the potential of the sector. Britain can succeed if we focus – aligning priorities, investment and activity.

“Tourism is the industry that can deliver the economic legacy of the 2012 Games. It is an industry that can deliver jobs quickly – right across Britain and at all skills levels – and much needed economic growth. Every £40,000 spent by overseas visitors to Britain can create a new job. International tourism is our third-largest earner of foreign exchange and contributed £3.1 billion to the nation’s coffers directly in taxation in 2011.”

Britain starts from a position of strength. The UK already welcomes 31 million visitors from across the world, who spent £18 billion a year here last year. Tourism is a major part of the UK economy. It contributes £115 billion to UK GDP, and provides employment for 2.6 million people – around 9% on both measures. One in twelve jobs in the UK is currently either directly or indirectly supported by tourism.

The strategy sets out four key elements:

• Enhancing Britain’s image by playing to Britain’s strengths – heritage, traditional and contemporary culture – and addressing perceived weaknesses such as natural beauty, food, value and welcome;

• Ensuring Britain is on the shelf by working with the travel trade in key markets to ensure Britain is packaged and sold;

• Building on Britain’s strong product offer to ensure that destinations can be easily packaged and that Britain continues to meet the expectations of new visitors from growth markets; and

• Making it easier to get here by addressing barriers to growth such as aviation capacity and the visa regime.

The consultation also considers wider factors affecting Britain’s competitiveness, including the global population shift to cities, the balance between targeting volume or value, and how to reverse the decline in major source markets such as the US whilst also ensuring Britain captures its share of the growth from emerging economies.

Responses to shape the final tourism strategy are welcome to

The consultation period runs until 9 November. The final strategy will be launched once the responses have been considered.

Notes to Editors:

1. The forecasting was carried out by Tourism Economics, an independent economic consultancy firm specialising in tourism. They are partners with Oxford Economics. They are widely respected and have been used by a range of private and public bodies including the UN.

2. Their report shows the 40 million ambition would deliver:
• 9 million additional visits a year in 2020
• £13 billion additional visitor spend annually (in nominal terms)
• £910 million additional tax revenues a year
• Support for 131,000 additional jobs across the UK per annum

A full version of their report is available at

For more information contact:


About VisitBritain

VisitBritain is Britain’s national tourism agency, responsible for marketing Britain overseas. We work with thousands of organisations in the UK and overseas to market Britain successfully to visitors from around the world. We also work to promote the tourism industry within the UK itself.

We work in partnership with the Government, the industry and our strategic partners in London, England, Scotland and Wales to promote Britain in 35 key overseas markets.

Our network of international offices is supported by our London-based marketing, commercial, research and policy teams, who in turn are backed up by experts in IT, financial management and other essential disciplines.

We also provide UK government with advice on tourism policy and raise awareness of the significance of tourism to the UK economy. We are particularly working towards showcasing Britain and maximising the tourism benefits in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond.

Our grant in aid received from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is approximately £32.6 million for 2010/11.

View our film to find out more about our work.

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