VisitBritain seeks funds for 20m global ad campaign

VisitBritain is demanding that the Government finance a global TV ad campaign in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics. The call for the funding comes after the tourism board blamed the recent cuts in its marketing activities on a 12-year freeze of its Government grant.

The tourism board says it has requested financial support from the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) to fund its marketing plans and promote the brand as a tourism destination.

The last time VisitBritain launched a global TV campaign was five years ago with its £40m “Only in Britain. Only in 2002” advertising push, which targeted seven countries including the US, Canada and Germany.

The tourism agency now wants financial aid to help market the country to younger audiences, break into new and emerging markets such as China, and promote Britain as a “happening now” destination rather than one recognised only for its culture and history.

VisitBritain director of strategy and communications Sandie Dawe says the organisation would need £20m over the next three years to market the brand properly. She says that for every £1 spent by the agency, £30 is regained from the tourism industry.

Once funded, it will look to create a global TV campaign, work with Olympic sponsors and reinforce Britain’s presence at the Olympic handover in Beijing next year.

Research commissioned by VisitBritain and Visit London from Oxford Economics shows that if properly marketed, Britain could attract an additional £2.1bn of tourism spend from the Olympics.

VisitBritain chairman Christopher Rodrigues adds: “Without marketing support, Britain will inevitably suffer as other nations, which do recognise the importance of their visitor economies go all out to welcome the world.”

He cites the Republic of Ireland as an example after it was awarded £557m for tourism development between 2007 and 2013.

A decision on the funding from the DCMS is expected this Thursday.