Sandie Dawe, the chief executive of VisitBritain has outlined the support the organisation offers to help grow international demand for UK events following a meeting with representatives of the Business Visits and Events Partnership.
VisitBritain outlined its commitment to add value to existing activities by national bodies as part of delivering its “Golden Strategy” for the period 2012 – 2020, which acknowledges that business tourism remains a significant component of international tourism to the UK. The strategy recognises that events boost Britain’s image and business travellers are a ready audience for activity which promotes an extension of their stay in Britain for leisure activity.
The potential of the sector was also highlighted with the aim to grow the current event attendee expenditures of £36 billion to £48 billion in 2020. The industry currently constitutes 24% of all overseas visits in 2012 and accounts for seven million international business visitors. International business visits and spend also grew at a faster rate than other visitor segments in 2012 seeing a 3% growth in volume, representing the best year since 2008 (IPS).
Sandie Dawe commented: “VisitBritain reduced its support for business tourism following a reduction to budget and subsequent restructure in 2011. Simultaneously other national tourist boards, city convention bureaux, and the sector itself have continued to promote business visits and events with positive results. The challenge, therefore, is to build on this strong basis by working with bodies to assist in areas where partnership approaches can add value to the work already being done.”
In a paper presented to the BVEP, VisitBritain defines its role and positioning in growing business visits and events, including providing support for major bids, using overseas offices to provide support in-market and profiling incentive travel where opportunities exist as part of a strategy to build the luxury market. It will also continue to press for improvements to the UK visa regime.
In addition the industry and Britain for Events campaign will seek to work with VisitBritain to grow the offering of business extenders programmes and pre and post event visits, through tie-ups with the VisitBritain online shop. VisitBritain and UKTI will co-ordinate on a corporate programme using elements of the GREAT programme and VisitBritain’s ‘You’re Invited’ campaign to encourage UK businesses to invite their overseas contacts to hold meetings and events in Britain.
Michael Hirst, chairman of the BVEP, said: “We naturally welcome any positive contribution that VisitBritain can make to the UK events industry.
“There is a great deal of excellent work being done at country, region and city level, but the resource of the national tourism organisation for Britain with its strong network of overseas offices and invaluable market insights should add more opportunities to attract more events and attendees to Britain.”