England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, were present in full force to showcase their world to the APMEA (Asia Pacific and Middle East) world at Destination Britain APMEA 2015 event. From countryside to culture, from literature to luxury there was more to see and explore By Reema Lokesh
The Visit Britain (VB) organised Destination Britain APMEA event designed for the Asia and Middle East market provided a unique opportunity for Britain’s tourism businesses to reach new markets. It proved to be a networking ground for all regions within its periphery namely, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Britain’s tourism strategy by 2020 clearly stated a spend of 31.5 billion pound to bring in 40 million visitors adding to an additional 8.7 billion pound foreign exchange earnings. The Britain Tourism Strategy aims at focusing on four areas: 1) Image –build Britain’s GREAT image (in sync with the campaign) 2) Product- Improve the range of products, 3) Travel Trade- to get Britain on the shelf and 4) Access- make it easier to access the region.
The APMEA region (that includes Asia and the Middle East) is considered as a high priority market for Britain’s inbound business. According to Visit Britain, since 2008, the spend from this region has grown to a tune of 35 per cent, which is 24 per cent of Britain’s tourism revenue. The forecast for 2015 stated that the volume of inbound tourism business is predicted to be around 2.5 per cent with the spend to go up by around 4.5 per cent. Visit Britain aims to continue with the ‘GREAT’ campaign which was launched in seven markets, and is a 125 million pound marketing campaign. Customer focus will continue to be priority, providing them with the right content at the right time. VB also aims to go big on the social media platform and plans to redevelop its digital and mobile platforms which will be tailored to meet the consumer’s increasingly individual needs. In terms of building accommodation facilities across hotel categories, London is preparing itself to add capacity. The city will see more number of rooms added to its existing capacity in the next three years, with a list of new developments in the pipeline from Inter Continental from The O2 to the Four Seasons Trinity Square to the Mercure at Hyde Park, to name a few.
The tourism board also shared their focused B2B initiatives namely, from the retail website concept to the travel trade website. From training programmes, trade shows to sales missions and FAM trips, VB has chalked out a strategic plan to bring in the business. Sounding upbeat about its growth expectations from the APMEA region, Christopher Rodrigues, chairman, VB, clearly spoke about the critical importance of APMEA to the economy and tourism growth. He said that, his team clearly intends to expand partnership programmes, and nurture key secondary markets. Their aim is to enhance their trade engagements and focus on hub carriers and finally develop a strong digital and mobile platform.
Trade connect and visa queries
VB aims to continue their strong links with the trade and to endorse this further the board aims to provide benefits to the trade by offering discounted rates on purchases, increased discounted rate to qualified BritAgents, affiliate links to earn commissions, discounted bulk offline sales of oyster cards, London maps and souvenirs.
For India as the target market VB clearly intends to work on three major groups of travellers: 1) the value driven explorers, who are the young travellers 2) family travellers 3) the sophisticated affluent travellers.
The department of visa UK was represented by Tony Moore, who candidly spoke about further improving the visa procurement procedures. He did address grievances with a forthcoming approach with an aim to carry the message forward to the authorities on issues concerning visas and its pricing systems. The travel trade delegation for India too found the event a worthy learning experience as they got to upgrade their product knowledge and enhance their business connections. Shefali Gupta of Amigo Travels, clearly stated that such events are great learning platforms and also effective grounds to meet their partners in the business. “We also get to learn about new options and products in the market and upgrade our itineraries and over all knowledge on the region,” she added.
What’s on offer in 2015-2016 and beyond
Film inspired holidays – The Bond is Great campaign with Spectre, Tarzan, Shrek attractions, Warner Bros Stuidio Tours London, Back to the Future musical, Hunger Games the musical, Harry Porter experience
Rugby World Cup 2015
Year of Food and Drink Scotland 2015
400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death
Wales year of Adventure
Lierary Links – 125th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth, 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth, 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth
200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte’s birth
The novel Alice in Wonderland turns 150 in 2015 and to celebrate, follow an Alice in Wonderland trail in Llandudno, Wales
Hull- UK’s City of Culture
London’s first purpose built cruise terminal
A new theme park for Paramount Pictures in Kent
England will host the cricket World Cup
From a rather generic showcase to a specific one, the campaigns promoted by VB has touched upon varied interests and preferences of their visitors, from music, heritage, culture to luxury, countryside and more. The countryside campaigns spoke about getting off the beaten track and experiencing the rural life. The luxury campaign highlighted the exquisite element of the place under the ‘Luxury is Great’ campaign. From a cultural showcase to a literature trail, from adventure in Wales to Scotland’s cuisine experience, the event highlighted all this and more. Music festivals and tours are being heavily promoted under the ‘Music is Great’ campaign. In 2013, 6.5 million tourists attended a festival or music gig generating 2.2 billion in spend. While overseas tourists account for six per cent of music tourism visits, they contribute 20 per cent of music tourism spend. From Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, each region had something to highlight that was unique to its set up. While Visit Scotland spoke about its castles and Bollywood connections , its cuisine and Whiskey specialties, Visit Wales launched a series of themed years, beginning with the Year of Adventure in 2016. Wales boasted of new iconic attractions such as Zip World and the world’s largest underground trampoline. From Mountain Biking facilities at centres such as Coedy Brenin, Bike Park Wales and Antur Stiniog to that of a 1200 km of Wales Coast Path the longest continuous path along a nation’s coastline, Wales is soon coming into focus. Wales has announced that 2017 will be The Year of Legends and 2018 as the Year of the Sea. The Surf Snowdonia at Dolgarrog in North Wales is also scheduled to be open in 2015. Ireland proudly spoke about the Titanic showcase amidst other attractions.