Government reveals post Olympic tourism plans

The Government will pump £8m on marketing Britain to the Chinese next year in a bid to treble the number of tourists coming to the UK.

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The investment is part of a raft of measures aimed at exploiting an expected boost in interest created by the London 2012 Olympics, which had secured London as one of the most “buzzy” and “exciting” cities “on the planet”, according to culture secretary Jeremy Hun as he unveiled the plans at Tate Modern in central London this morning (14 August).

Hunt says the plans are aimed at increasing the number of annual visitors to the UK from 30 million to 40 million by 2020. He set a target of increasing the 150,000 Chinese tourists who visited the UK in 2011 to 500,000 in 2015, which he predicted would generate more than £500m extra spend a year and create 14,000 jobs.

The plans form the next instalment of the cross-government GREAT advertising campaign, which ran in key foreign markets during the Olympics. Hunt says the campaign had delivered more than three times the £1bn worth of positive PR for Britain around the world than he had previously pledged.

Hunt also announced the government will spend £2m on an Olympics follow-up campaign to boost domestic tourism in 2013, which it hopes the visitor industry will match. He described the domestic plans as a sign that, post Olympics, the “worm has turned” and that encouraging Britons to holiday at home would “no longer….be the poor relation when it comes to big marketing campaigns”.

The plans follow VisitBritain’s unveiling of plans to capitalise on improved perception of a “fun and friendly” Britain following global coverage of the London 2012 Games with a deal-based campaign, to follow-on from a £5m campaign it is readying for a September launch in partnership with British Airways.

The tourism body says that anecdotal feedback from the travel trade and its overseas offices indicate that the Games had a particularly positive impact on perceptions of a British welcome, while perceptions about food, heritage and culture, arts, creativity, diversity and music have also benefited, says VisitBritain.

Hunt also used today’s speech to answer critics that the Olympics had been bad for UK business as people stayed away to avoid crowds and high-prices.

Although he admitted that “some businesses” would “inevitably” face “short-term consequences,” Hunt said 2012 has seen “record-breaking” figures for spend and overseas visitors.

He pointed to Visa’s report that spend in London restaurants is up 20%,Andrew Lloyd Webber’s announcement that sales for his shows were up by 25% and 90% occupancy rates across Intercontinental’s London hotels as proof that ‘stories of ghost town London are not borne out by the facts.’

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