Modi visit big social media boost for UK

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Published: November 13, 2015 2:39:27 PM

Britain as a tourist destination could be in for a significant social media boost this week, with the arrival of prime minister, Narendra Modi

81 per cent of those surveyed from India agreed that seeing friends’ holiday photos on social media made them want to ‘visit a place’81 per cent of those surveyed from India agreed that seeing friends’ holiday photos on social media made them want to ‘visit a place’

Britain as a tourist destination could be in for a significant social media boost this week, with the arrival of prime minister, Narendra Modi. PM Modi has one of the highest numbers of Twitter followers and Facebook ‘likes’ of any world leader and a propensity to share photos of his trips with his 15 million plus Twitter followers and 30 million plus Facebook ‘fans.’

Modi’s social media statistics echo new research released this week from national tourism agency, VisitBritain, which shows that India tops the tables when using social media, primarily Facebook, while on a holiday with almost 80 per cent of respondents using it. The top reason was to keep in touch with family and friends, followed by sharing photos and letting people know what they were doing.

VisitBritain’s research ‘The role of social media in the context of holidays’, which explores how social media is used by holiday-makers, also found that 98 per cent of respondents from India had used social media at some stage in their holiday planning and once returning home.

Also, 81 per cent of those surveyed from India agreed that seeing friends’ holiday photos on social media made them want to ‘visit a place’, suggesting that photos play a crucial role in promoting a destination to potential travellers and in increasing their motivation to visit.

India is one of Britain’s most important emerging visitor markets and the number of visits is growing. Last year was a record breaker for the number of visits from India with almost 400,000, a 4 per cent increase in 2013.

While the latest figures from VisitBritain, comparing the first six months of 2015 to the same period last year, show that the number of overall visits from India was up 15 per cent (from 173,000 to 199,000) and spend was up 25 per cent (from £160m to £199m).

In the 10 years since 2004, the UK has seen a 54 per cent increase in the number of visits from India, with spending levels close to doubling.

VisitBritain’s marketing director, Joss Croft said, “This research reinforces the crucial role that social media now plays in offering unparalleled opportunities to engage directly with potential visitors, moving Britain from being a place to travel to at some stage to a ‘must go now’ destination.”

“The visit of the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and the accompanying international media exposure and visibility that the visit will bring provides a fantastic social media opportunity for us to inspire more international visitors from India to come and explore all the nations and regions of Britain”, he added.

Encouraging visitors to share their own holiday experiences online is already one of the key ways VisitBritain is inspiring more people to visit Britain. The national tourism agency is a frontrunner in the digital space, ranking first among key competitors in number of Twitter followers (300,000), third for Facebook fans (3 million) and Weibo followers (510,000).

In late October, VisitBritain announced a new global marketing partnership with Turkish Airlines which includes an international campaign over the next 12 months with the Indian market and the launch of a tactical digital campaign in early 2016. The campaign will inspire more visitors to see what makes Britain a great destination through promoting the airline’s five regional gateways which include Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh, as well as London’s Heathrow and Gatwick.

Turkish Airlines is also supporting VisitBritain’s ‘Bollywood is great campaign’ focusing on promoting Britain’s culture and countryside. VisitBritain is partnering with film studio Dharma Productions in promoting regional Britain destinations that were used as locations for the Bollywood movie Shaandar including Yorkshire and Durham. To date, the campaign has gained more than 6,000 Indian fans on VisitBritain’s global Facebook page. In total, VisitBritain’s India Facebook page has almost 600,000 fans.

The 2014 Nations Brand Index survey reflects that Indians are exceptionally upbeat in their opinion of Britain across all dimensions of the ‘nation brand’ with an overall ranking of 3 with tourism ranking 3, culture overall ranked 2, heritage ranked 5 and contemporary culture such as music, films, art and literature ranked 3.

Inbound tourism was worth more than £26 billion to the UK economy in 2013.

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