The British Tourist Authority (BTA) is talking to agencies about creating a £4m advertising campaign to promote England abroad and at home.
The BTA is to merge with the English Tourism Council on April 1 to form a new body. The new name is not yet known, but the ETC will function as a separate division within the merged body.
BTA is also looking for branding agencies to help promote England.
The ETC has not had a marketing function since 1999, but the new division will be responsible for marketing England, and will have a £14m marketing and advertising budget this year and a similar amount in 2004.
The BTA has yet to appoint a domestic marketing director to oversee its UK marketing department. It recently hired Kenny Boyle as international marketing director (MW January 23). Boyle is preparing a £6m autumn campaign that will promote short-haul breaks in the UK to 11 European destinations.
The Government is giving the BTA £35.5m this year and in 2004 to market the UK overseas. The BTA will work with partners from the private sector including, for the first time, low-cost airlines. An advertising agency has yet to be appointed for the activity.
BTA chief executive Tom Wright says that the number of in-bound tourists to the UK has increased year on year for the seven-month period to December. However, the international tension surrounding Iraq will mean another period of uncertainty and the UK will be best served by focusing on the domestic and European markets, he adds.