50 Years Timeline - 2010 to 2019

The 2010s

2010

  • VisitBritain launched a new marketing strapline and branding for Britain, ‘Britain – You’re Invited’. This coincided with a deliberate shift away from local micro-campaigns to three global major campaign themes (classic, dynamic and luxury) all using the new strapline.
  • VisitBritain launched its corporate social media accounts; Twitter (@VisitBritainBiz) and LinkedIn (VisitBritain),
  • VisitBritain hosted its first online annual review.
  • DCMS announced the result of a comprehensive spending review, which reduced VisitBritain’s grant-in-aid by 34%. We reduced our physical presence from 35 to 21 overseas markets, based in 24 key cities. These markets provide a wide geographic spread across the world, accounting for 75% of inbound tourism spend.

 

2011

  • The Prime Minister established a £100 million public/private partnership to attract visitors to the UK over the four years from 2011-2015. The four-year marketing programme - GREAT Britain – You’re Invited aimed to enhance the UK’s position as one of the world’s leading destinations for international tourism. We pledged to deliver four million extra visitors; £2 billion extra spent here by visitors; and 50,000 new jobs.
  • VisitBritain launched our first global TV advertisement in 10 years — an invitation from celebrities — featuring Dame Judi Dench, Dev Patel, Jamie Oliver, Rupert Everett and Twiggy, offering a warm and personal invitation to potential visitors.
  • Additional funding was awarded to VisitBritain for a GREAT Britain tourism image campaign as part of a wider initiative to highlight why Britain is a GREAT place to visit, and in which to study, do business and invest.

 

2012

  • VisitEngland released first-ever results on domestic day visits in the UK in partnership with VisitWales and Visit Scotland. The survey revealed that in 2011 GB residents took 1.5 billion tourism day trips in the UK spending £54 billion.  In England, Brits took 1.3 billion trips, spending £44 billion.
  • VisitEngland launches its biggest-ever domestic campaign, Holidays at Home are GREAT, to encourage Brits to take a staycation in England. The first year saw a TV ad air on 8 March featuring Stephen Fry, Julie Walters, Rupert Grint and Michelle Dockery.
  • VisitEngland launched the inaugral English Tourism Week, a corporate campaign designed to champion the English tourism sector and raise awareness of its enormous contribution to the UK economy to Government, media and stakeholders. It has since developed a consumer element that encourages business such as accommodation providers, attractions and other related sectors to get involved by putting on special events and offers during the week and submit them to our dedicated consumer-facing platform. 
  • VisitEngland launches Tourism Superstar, in partnership with the Mirror. The campaign aims to recognise one individual working in tourism who has gone above and beyond in their job to give visitors a warm welcome. Ten finalists face a public vote on the Mirror website to be crowned champion. The first winner was Alan Fiddler, a taxi driver from North Shields.
  • VisitEngland team up with Disabled Go to launch a free online training course for businesses to learn how to deliver an excellent service for their disabled visitors and guests.
  • Throughout the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games with our presence at the London Media Centre, we supplied 8,600 journalists from 102 countries with information and delivered over 200 promotional events such as media briefings, hospitality and opportunities to interview our spokespeople.
  • Following our activity in the build up to and during the Olympics Games, the research conducted post-Olympics showed that Britain’s ranking for “overall national brand”, “culture” and “welcome” all improved. Inbound tourism visits and spend were record breaking each year from 2012 - 2017. Interestingly, the Olympics in 1948 saw record inbound tourism visits that year.
  • The post-Games phase of our marketing programme (Memories are GREAT Britain) started the day after the Games ended and ran until March 2013.
  • A major James Bond-themed campaign, our first fully integrated digital campaign, launched in October 2012, capitalising on the 50th anniversary of the iconic character in conjunction with the release of the new Bond film, Skyfall.  
  • VisitEngland's Holidays at Home are GREAT campaign wins Best Consumer Campaign at the PRCA Awards 2012. 

2013

  • The Sounds of Great Britain TV advert launched in USA, Brazil, China, India, Gulf states and throughout Europe. The campaign totalled over 750 million impressions on VisitBritain’s LoveWall website, saw over 35 million video views from potential visitors around the world and generated £286,000 in added value.
  • VisitEngland announce a new strategic partnership with Arts Council England to boost cultural tourism in England. 
  • VisitEngland team up with Cottageline to promote countryside and coastal short breaks in England, encouraging Brits to "book with a local" and take a self-catering break in England.
  • The 1 million milestone is reached for LoveUK (now called LoveGreatBritain) Facebook fans.
  • The HRH Prince Charles becomes five year Patron of English Tourism Week (2013 - 2017). 
  • VisitEngland team up with Lastminute.com to promote short breaks to encourage Brits to holiday at home.
  • VisitEngland launches its Access for All campaign, aimed at championing and improving accessible tourism in England, a sector worth over £2 billion a year to the domestic tourism industry. Guides showcasing fantastic and accessible tourism experiences were developed, initially focusing on Leicestershire, NewcastleGateshead, Brighton and Bath. 
  • In April the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport launched VisitBritain’s long term tourism growth strategy for Britain, aiming to attract 40 million international visitors a year,  and increasing spending to £31.3 billion, by 2020.
  • VisitEngland's Holidays at Home are GREAT campaign recruits Aardman Animations' Wallace and Gromit as Tourism Trailblazers to feature in its latest campaign, The Great Adventure, to inspire Britons to take a holiday at home. The intrepid duo subsequently appeared in the campaign for the next two years. The campaign also signed up 11 high-street travel agents to support the campaign with exciting British holiday packages and promotional activity, including TUI, Thomas Cook, Superbreak, Hoseasons, Bourne Leisure and Shearings Holidays. 
  • VisitEngland launched its first-ever Accolades for attractions to recognise quality experiences. The Accolades are given to those quality scheme participants who have impressed their judges in one of five categories: Welcome, Hidden Gem, Best Told Story, Quality Café and the Gold Accolade for top-scoring attractions. 
  • VisitEngland's Access for All project received 125,000 Euros in funding from the European Commission. The project partnered with seven destinations to develop and promote themselves for visitors with access needs and supported 56 businesses in improving their accessibility.
  • VisitBritain launched the  GREAT Chinese Names for GREAT Britain campaign. 101 British landmarks that didn't  have a Chinese name were put forward to be named as part of our £1.6m campaign.

 

2014

  • VisitBritain implements a “nurture” strategy, developed with the UK travel industry, airlines and UK embassies.
  • VisitBritain's marketing content is reshaped around emotionally engaging content and building authenticity into its campaigns. Featuring real people and trusted celebrities, it used credible voices to cement Britain as a must-visit tourist destination
  • Creative England championed by VisitEngland at IMEX 2014 in partnership with Chewton Glen & Cliveden House, ACC Liverpool, Visit Manchester, Liverpool Convention Bureau, Manchester Central and Destination Bristol.
  • A new collaboration with the British Beer and Pub Association was announced as part of English Tourism Week. 
  • VisitEngland's Growing Tourism Locally project (funded by the Regional Growth Fund) beats its jobs target in its second year. It generated a total of £517.9 million additional tourism spend and created a record number of 9,620 additional jobs for the sector. 
  • TripAdvisor include VisitEngland's official star ratings on its property pages of participating accommodation providers in England.
  • VisitEngland launched an animated film to mark the start the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour. ‘Tourist Tactics’ gave viewers an irreverent, colourful yet informative preview of the sights, sounds and tastes of the Rugby World Cup 2015 and England’s host destinations.
  • Second phase of VisitBritain's Sounds of GREAT Britain launched in December 2014. The campaign focused on the US, France, Germany, UAE, China and India with targeted films featuring real people talking about Britain. The content featured landmarks, key people, locations and experiences to challenge viewers' perceptions of Britain. 
  • VisitEngland launched its Hall of Fame campaign to celebrate what England has brought to the world. Over 1,000 suggestions were received from the public via an app for categories such as The Great, The Good and the Notorious; Inventions & Discoveries; Food & Drink etc. Winners included William Shakespeare, Banksy, Glastonbury and Downton Abbey. 
  • VisitBritain ran a sweepstake competition in partnership with the Downton Abbey TV show for the second year. The competition received 150,000 entries, up 49% on the previous year, with 31,000 entrants requesting information from VisitBritain.
  • The release of blockbuster film Paddington saw the launch of the Paddington is GREAT campaign in partnership with STUDIOCANAL, to help reach international audiences. Scenes featuring GREAT advertising at a tube station and on a Routemaster bus appeared in the film with no extra cost. The campaign, which included social activity on Facebook and Yahoo in the US, France and Germany, also included a competition to win a family trip to Britain, which received almost 220,00 entries and 11 million impressions. It was VisitBritain's highest performing film tourism campaign to date. 
  • A renewed focus on Football is GREAT took place with the creation of two videos featuring FA Premier League players, Ryan Giggs and Yun Suk-Young, on what they loved about Britain. An online game was also produced which received over 1,000 players, and the partnership enabled VisitBritain to introduce Football is GREAT to new markets including Malaysia, South Africa and Singapore. 
  • VisitBritain’s campaign in partnership with Heathrow Airport used 326 digital screens across the airport’s five terminals to expose key messaging to the 13 million passengers using Heathrow as their gateway to Britain’s regions every year. The partnership was extended from its initial phase, which focused on the South West. Phase two showcased Yorkshire during the Le Grand Depart of the Tour de France in July 2014.
  • Several other digital campaigns took place including a campaign with British Airways that took British icons and translated them into emotionally engaging tourism experiences; a print and digital campaign with Expedia in France and Germany, challenging visitors to ‘travel yourself interesting’ and take a fresh look at regional Britain; and a digital campaign with STA Travel gave Australian and US audiences a preview of lesser-known travel spots through the eyes of Australian reality TV star Tully Smyth and US rapper Astronautilus.
  • VisitBritain worked with regional gateways to encourage visitors to explore Britain. Together with Birmingham Airport, Marketing Birmingham and Air India, we promoted the new route from Delhi to Birmingham, showcasing Birmingham as an attractive shopping location. We also partnered with Birmingham Airport on a successful bid for a Beijing to Birmingham flight, drawing on  relationships with key partners in China, such as Caissa.
  • A joint campaign with Marketing Manchester and Visit Wales focused on the American Airline route to Manchester from New York and promoted short tours and country breaks.
  • VisitBritain worked with UKinbound and the Colombian airline, Avianca, to highlight the new London-Colombia route by taking a small delegation to Bogota to introduce them to the Colombian travel trade.
  • Eight tourism events were organised by VisitBritain around the world, including in the US, Asia and Scandinavia. Around 600 UK delegates attended these events and met with more than 800 fully qualified buyers from over 40 markets. VisitBritain also attended three international exhibitions, taking along 49 UK delegates. 70 UK tourism suppliers and 96 North American buyers attended the Destination Britain North America event in Las Vegas, with 7,885 appointments scheduled.

 

2015

  • In January the three year campaign “Countryside is GREAT” premiered in New York, focusing at first on the USA and Germany through print and digital advertising. Developed in collaboration with partners including the National Parks, the Forestry Commission, The Canal and River Trust and Hertz , as well as DCMS and DEFRA, the fully integrated campaign promoted Britain’s total tourism offer overseas, with the aim of making it easier for tourists to connect with the natural beauty of our nations.
  • VisitEngland manages the £5m Government-funded South West Tourism Growth Fund (SWTGF), and the £10m Northern Tourism Growth Fund (NTGF). Both programmes were designed to promote the respective regions through marketing activities, business events, travel trade, PR and consumer campaigns. Both incorporated collaborative working and received match-funding from public and private partners. 
  • VisitBritain launched our ExploreGB event, the largest tourism trade event we have ever run. The event also incorporated an educational programme focusing on increasing international trade buyers’ understanding of all that Britain has to offer.
  • Shaun the Sheep from Aardman Animations became the new face of VisitEngland's Holidays at Home are GREAT domestic marketing campaign, replacing Wallace and Gromit. 
  • Results show that VisitBritain's hugely-successful "Great Names for GREAT Britain" China naming campaign reached 300 million people through our Chinese social media channels. The campaign also received two gold awards and one silver at Cannes Lion D’Or that year, one of the largest annual award shows in the creative communications industry.
  • The three-year, £40 million Discover England Fund is announced, aimed at funding and developing new product across England, administered by VisitEngland.
  • The GREAT UK Challenge Fund was launched (UKCF) which was a new initiative made available to education, tourism, trade and investment organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to grasp market opportunities.
  • VisitEngland launches its Access for All campaign following a successful pilot. The campaign aimed to raise awareness of accessible destinations and businesses in England, informing disabled people of accommodation and visitor attractions when planning a day trip or holiday.
  • The value of football to the economy was highlighted in a new report by VisitBritain, revealing that the game nets £684m for the UK.
  • VisitEngland releases findings from the first-ever study on the value of leisure activities by domestic and international tourists in the UK, in partnership with Visit Wales and VisitScotland. Cycling/mountain biking was the top earner generating £520m, followed by golf (£456m) and fishing (£274m).
  • James Bond joins VisitBritain's GREAT Britain film tourism campaign to promote the UK to 60 countries, in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, as part of the Spectre promotional campaign.
  • VisitEngland launches the Rose Awards (in Recognition Of Service Excellence) for accommodation providers at the Independent Hotel Show. The Awards recognise those businesses in our quality schemes who have impressed the judges. 
  • VisitEngland hosts Best of the North in Harrogate, a B2B trade event helping 60 suppliers showcase their product to international buyers. The event was held in partnership with the European Tourism Association (ETOA) and Northern Destinations, funded by the Northern Tourism Growth Fund. 
  • Nottingham was voted as England's Home of Sport, in a campaign held by VisitEngland in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup.
  • VisitEngland launches a new Quality Scheme for Pubs in partnership with the British Beer and Pub Association. 
  • The wide-ranging Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) recommended the joining together of VisitBritain and VisitEngland under one roof. Although VisitBritain's remit to boost inbound tourism continued, VisitEngland's remit became more focused on new product development and the execution of the Discover England Fund. 

 

2016

  • The joining together of VisitBritain/VisitEngland took place, along with the merging of the VisitEngland corporate website into VisitBritain.org. 
  • In January The GREAT Britain Home of Amazing Moments campaign was formally kicked off across four markets, Brazil, France, Germany and the US. In April the campaign's domestic arm was launched to encourage Brits to take an overnight trip in Britain and Northern Ireland. 
  • VisitBritain launch a new "Tips for Monster Hunting" campaign to inspire international tourists to visit Inverness and Loch Ness
  • New module launched on BritAgent travel agent education programme dedicated to the Russian travel trade.
  • VisitEngland launched Year of the English Garden celebrating the contribution and appeal of the traditional English garden to visitors.
  • BBC Countryfile named the winner of VisitEngland's Oustanding Contribution to Tourism Award at its annual Awards for Excellence ceremony.
  • VisitBritain won gold in Beijing for our work on getting businesses in the North of England "China-ready".
  • In May, VisitBritain's first travel trade roadshow took place for the first time in ten years in Australia, showcasing the 19 "best of Britain" suppliers to hundreds of Australian travel agents in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane
  • The three-year, £40m Discover England Fund opens its first year of bidding for projects up to £250,000 in May. 21 projects secured funding in year 1.
  • Hainan Airlines Group signs a memorandum of understanding with VisitBritain to boost numbers of Chinese visitors to Britain. A partnership is launched later in the year with Ali Baba Group's Alitrip, and Hainan.
  • Figures out in May show that the first-quarter of 2016 have had the best ever results for inbound visits in the UK. 
  • 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl's birth celebrated in a new GIANT campaign tie-in with the film release of The BFG.
  • VisitBritain opened a new office in Guangzhou, China to focus on attracting more Chinese visitors to Britain. China has become one of the UK's top 10 valuable inbound markets. 
  • In August VisitBritain's new programme to boost international business events across the UK launched. The four-year Event Support Programme offers advocacy and funding to grow and develop the UK's business events industry. 
  • VisitEngland's Annual Attractions Survey reveal that England's gardens, farms and theme parks experienced the biggest growth in visitors over the past year. 
  • VisitBritain launches new campaigns with Expedia across France, Germany and the US to drive inbound tourism to the UK.
  • New campaign also launched to boost tourism from the Gulf with a six-week digital and print "OMGB Home of Amazing Moments" campaign rolled out in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A two-week campaign also launched in Malaysia to encourage Malaysians to come to the UK. 
  • In November, VisitBritain tied-in with the release of "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" to promote the UK as a must-visit destination for film-makers and tourists alike through a series of videos featuring stars of the film including Eddie Redmayne, director David Yates and producer David Heyman
  • VisitBritain hosts first trade event to South Korea in over five years, along with a China tourism mission.

 

2017

  • Visitors spent more than £1 billion in 2016 as a result of activity by VisitBritain/VisitEngland, according to results revealed in our 2017 annual review. This meant that for every pound invested in the agency, visitors spent £25 in Britain
  • VisitEngland launches Year of Literary Heroes highlighting the wealth of literary connections only available in England to book-lovers everywhere. On World Book Day on 2 March, VisitEngland research reveals that more than half of British holidaymakers would visit a literary attraction on holiday in England. An interactive map of Magical Britain was produced and key literary milestones were marked throughout the year including the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen.
  • New domestic campaign, Join the World - Discover the UK, launched to inspire young people to holiday at home. The campaign utilises young overseas influencers to inspire young Brits to discover the UK through their eyes.
  • VisitEngland research reveals that 2016 was the highest ever recorded for day trip spending in England, with £45.3 billion spent by Brits from January to November 2016.  
  • The first VisitBritain tourism mission to India in three years is held, showcasing 20 suppliers at Destination Britain India in Pune in January. 
  • Steve Ridgway CBE and Denis Wormwell appointed as Chairs for the BTA Board and the VisitEngland Advisory Board respectively.
  • New #OMGB campaigns announced to encourage more visitors from Italy and India
  • VisitBritain is the first western tourism board to open an office in Riyadh to encourage more visitors from Saudi Arabia.
  • New figures released showing that 2016 saw the highest ever number of visitors to the UK, with a record 37.3 million inbound visits to the UK, up 3% on 2015 with visitors spending £22.2 billion, matching 2015’s record spend. 
  • The 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales celebrated with the launch of the Love is GREAT campaign, targeting LGBTQ audiences in Australia and the USA.
  • British Airways partners with VisitBritain to attract more visitors from South Africa
  • 79 year old Granny Liu voted China's biggest Premier League fan in VisitBritain competition. 
  • VisitEngland announces new contract with the AA to run the VisitEngland Quality Assessment Schemes
  • Campaigns focusing on the release of high-profile movies including King Arthur: Legend of the SwordThe Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and Paddington 2, launched during the year to inspire visitors to discover the UK. 
  • VisitBritain's Social Travel Summit in Inverness won PR Week's Global Award for "Best Global Partnership" 
  • Discover England Fund announces funding of up to £1million to projects including the Great West Way in Wiltshire, and the England's Coast project. 
  • Nessie returns in a new Loch Ness campaign to inspire visitors to Scotland.
  • VisitBritain/VisitEngland steps up campaign to bid for a new sector deal for tourism on behalf of the industry.
  • New accessibility guides website launched by VisitEngland in partnership with VisitScotland. The website helps businesses to showcase their accessibility options in detail to visitors. 
  • A new partnership announced with VisitBritain, Newcastle Airport and NewcastleGateshead Initiative to promote the region to overseas visitors, in the run-up to the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018. 
  • VisitBritain/VisitEngland move its London head office to a new location at 1 Victoria Street, London.
     

2018

  • January's "Blue Monday" was the inspiration for a new campaign, 24 hours in the UK, to promote round-the-clock activities and experiences across the UK. The campaign won "Europe's Leading Marketing Campaign" at the World Travel Awards.  
  • A new global campaign, I Travel For... was launched by VisitBritain, to boost inbound tourism to the UK. A number of launches in various markets took place throughout the year, including Europe, China and India. 
  • More winning bids announced for the Discover England Fund with four projects receiving £1 million: Experience England; The Gourmet Garden Trails of England; East of England Touring Route and Cycle England. The fund opens for applications for Year 3. 
  • The importance of tourism from China was highlighted at an All-Party Parliamentary China Group (APPCG)'s Chinese New Year reception to MPs and Lords.
  • Destination Management Companies(DMCs) partnered with VisitBritain for the first time, to promote England's tourism products including Discover England Fund projects globally.
  • English Tourism Week trended on Twitter following a year of consumer-focused activity including Instameet meet-ups, a celebrity connection with Julia Bradbury and influencer bloggers. 
  • Votes for Tourism Superstar contestants reach the highest level ever, with the Mirror website receiving 18,000 public votes. The competition was won by "Dancing" Jim O'Reilly from the Isle of Wight.
  • VisitEngland partner with the National Autistic Society to launch new guide to help businesses welcome people with autism.
  • VisitEngland launch "Taking England to the World - An inbound tourism toolkit" to support destinations and small and medium-sized tourism businesses enter the export tourism market. 
  • VisitBritain wins award for their outstanding social media work in France at the International French Travel Market, coming third out of 72 national tourism boards that entered the awards.
  • VisitEngland launched #MyMicrogap campaign in partnership with VICE to encourage young Brits to take mini gap-year short breaks in the UK. 
  • VisitBritain launch new Events are GREAT website, to raise awareness of Britain as a world-class business events destination. 
  • New partnership with VisitBritainEurostar and Virgin Trains announced to offer united travel service for the meetings, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector to drive growth in international business events to the UK. 
  • ExploreGB takes place in NewcastleGateshead to promote Britain to the world by facilitating thousands of one-to-one meetings between suppliers and overseas buyers over two days.
  • VisitBritain/VisitEngland move its London head offce to a new location at 151 Buckingham Palace Road, London.
  • The US Tourism Advisory Council meets for the first time at VisitBritain's US trade mission event Destination Britain North America. 
  • The China trade mission Destination Britain China celebrates its tenth birthday by returning to Sanya, Hainan Province in China. 

 

2019

2010s collage

  • The 30th anniversary of the VisitEngland Awards of Excellence was celebrated in March, along with the launch of a refreshed new Awards Programme for the following year. The National Parks of England won Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award. 
  • VisitBritain/VisitEngland partners with Experiences on Airbnb to promote local tourism experiences and encourage visitor growth. 
  • VisitBritain's Canadian Tourism Advisory Council convenes for the first time.
  • New campaign launched with Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) to boost tourism to the UK. 
  • Advice produced on Brexit for visitors coming to the UK. 
  • Digital animations produced by VisitEngland to inspire young Brits to take a microgap in the UK. 
  • ExploreGB takes place in Harrogate, Yorkshire, with 250 buyers from over 30 markets who met and did business with 310 UK suppliers over two days.
  • The importance of British gardens was highlighted at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May.