CEO statement

Keeping England’s tourism industry competitive
Understanding markets & customers
Building powerful partnerships
Every £1 the Government invests in us for international marketing, has resulted in an overseas visitor spending £23 here in Britain

In 2015/16 the tourism industry continued to thrive – and we’ve continued to deliver. 2015 was another record-breaking year for British tourism, with unmatched inbound visitor numbers, soaring inbound visitor spend and record-breaking domestic visitor spending levels. 2016 is set to follow suit.

Stronger together

The excellent four-year funding settlement for VisitBritain/VisitEngland in the Comprehensive Spending Review, showed that Government recognises the value of tourism, with core budgets unchanged and the establishment of the £40 million Discover England Fund to develop world-class English tourism products. On top of that we have secured a further £23.3 million from the GREAT budget for international and domestic marketing.

With a clear remit and focus for England and Britain, the Government also brought us closer together. This way, we pool our combined knowledge, insight and experience to strengthen England’s tourism product, boost Britain’s appeal, and inspire more people to visit our nations and regions, adding value to the UK economy.

Delivering world-class English tourism products

Boy with Hawk Developing and delivering best-in-class products to the right customers at the right time is at the core of VisitEngland’s remit. The £40 million Discover England Fund is at the forefront of this activity, with successful year one bids announced to date spanning the length and breadth of the country from Hull and Harwich in the east, to Bristol in the west, Manchester in the north and the Cotswolds further south. A comprehensive research programme underpins the Fund, to inform future product development for the good of the industry.

Alongside this, we have supported English businesses and destinations: from providing domestic research and insights, to English Tourism Week, our Awards for Excellence and our business advice hub.

Growing business visits and events

England conference stand  One of our priorities is to grow the valuable business visits and events sector for England and for Britain. We have continued to provide sales and marketing platforms such as IBTM and IMEX for English destinations and venues to reach international event planners. The recently-launched UK Event Support Programme supports the attraction, growth and development of new and existing international business events to Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

VisitBritain/VisitEngland highlights film
Artwork from GREAT Inverness Loch Ness Fund
Promoting the nations and regions through designated funds
#OMGB GREAT Britain - Home of Amazing Moments campaign

Inspiring the world to explore Britain

Lake District OMGBWorking as one team with the Foreign Office, Department for International Trade and the British Council we’ve continued to deliver the GREAT campaign.

From our #OMGB, Oh My GREAT Britain – Home of Amazing Moments campaign to Bond is GREAT, in 2015/16 we tapped into pivotal moments, inspiring visitors to explore the nations and regions of Britain. As a result, our campaigns and marketing activity generated an additional £97.2 million in domestic visitor spend and over £800 million in inbound visitor spend across the nations and regions of Britain. We are making an impact.

In an increasingly competitive digital world, 2015/16 saw continued progress of our digital transformation programme with the launch of our new consumer website. Our award-winning digital platforms for both consumers and industry have long played a key role in our global marketing strategy, enabling us to find ever-more effective ways to connect with customers in their spaces. 22 million views across our platforms were recorded during the year and with the transformation programme continuing, our inspiring message will reach a greater number of people across the world.

Social media was central to our flagship #OMGB campaign which we launched in key international markets and then, working with VisitScotland, Visit Wales, London & Partners and Northern Ireland Tourist Board, rolled out to the domestic market in April. We captured visitors’ imaginations, and encouraged them to share images of their own amazing moments in Britain, reaching over 3 million people on social media through our international activity alone.

Young people in a group at the Social Travel SummitPublic relations were an important activity this year too, as we sustained our efforts to improve perceptions of England at home and Britain overseas. We’ve built relationships with national and international key influencers, hosted press trips and events, and provided valuable resources to enable the world’s media to tell a captivating story about the nations and regions of Britain. Our activity this year led to over 12,500 pieces of international coverage for Britain with 19.2 billion opportunities to see, and over 2,000 pieces of domestic coverage, with 1 billion opportunities to see.



People shaking hands at a China trade eventThrough our trade work we’re broadening our engagement with product distributors in key international markets, working with tour operators, travel agents and increasingly online agents, metasearch and aggregators to solve problems, build the range and availability of bookable product and generate sales.

Our in-depth understanding of customers and markets, built up through our extensive network remains our core strength. By leveraging this insight, we have not only acted as a trusted advisor to Government and industry, but also continued to develop our marketing to ensure we reach the right customers in the right place and at the right time.



Building effective partnerships

Ipad and coffee infographicUnderpinning all of this is our work with public and private sector partners. This year has seen us continue to broker and build powerful partnerships, each drawing on our extensive market intelligence to make Britain even more of a must-go-now destination. From developing our longstanding relationships with British Airways, BBC Worldwide and STA Travel, to capitalising on the potential of collaborations with companies including Disney, Turkish Airlines and Hainan Airlines, we’ve increased our global reach and the connectivity of our nations and regions for overseas visitors.

Alongside our ongoing work building effective relationships with commercial partners – contributing £12.7 million (in-cash and in-kind) to our international marketing and £2 million (in-kind) to our domestic campaigns, we’re stepping up our work with our strategic partners – the tourist boards for Scotland, Wales and London – as well as destination organisations. By sharing expertise and experience and using our resources to support the nations and regions of Britain, we will continue to drive domestic and international visitor numbers and spend across the length and breadth of Britain.

Looking to the future

Scenes of China Our priorities for 2016/17 will see us continue to focus on driving footfall and spend as well as advocacy and aspiration.

We will build on the success of our #OMGB campaign, already launched in Australia and China last month and rolling out around the world, and work with commercial partners to ensure that inspiration is converted into a visit and a boost to the economy and jobs across Britain.

We will reinforce the message in long haul markets such as USA and China that Britain is a great value destination, offering a great welcome, as well as underlining the positive message around welcome closer to home in Europe.

Partnerships will remain fundamental to our activity. From launching a three-year partnership with the Premier League to amplifying our collaboration with Expedia, we will continue to leverage powerful partnerships to develop exciting new ways to encourage the world to visit.

And we’ll continue to deliver our successful Discover England Fund – the second round is already open for large scale bids – to keep England competitive in the rapidly growing global tourism industry.

I would like to close by thanking Christopher Rodrigues and the BTA Board, the VisitEngland advisory board, our strategic partners, destination organisations and our industry and commercial partners, as well as everyone in the VisitBritain/VisitEngland team, for their hard work and support. I am looking forward to continuing on our journey of collaboration over the next 12 months to see Britain’s tourism industry reach new heights.

Sally Balcombe

CEO, VisitBritain/VisitEngland

We’ve pooled our knowledge, insight and experience of customers and markets at home and abroad to strengthen England’s tourism product, boost Britain’s appeal and inspire more people to visit.