Growing regional tourism

Driving economic growth.
Supporting businesses to be export-ready
Boosting tourism to the regions
25 projects were funded across the country through the £2m GREAT UK Challenge Fund

Opening up overseas opportunities. Encouraging inward investment. Preparing businesses and destinations for international visitors. From Loch Ness to Land's End, we have led the management of a number of funds to grow tourism to various areas across Britain.

Stimulating international demand across the regions

Enhancing Britain’s economy and bolstering the breadth of experiences both international and domestic tourists can enjoy, this year we’ve worked with partners to deliver a range of Government funds across the length and breadth of Britain.

This is GREAT Britain logoLaunched in March 2015, the GREAT UK Challenge Fund saw a £2 million investment from the GREAT campaign budget throughout 2015/16 to create new jobs, seize market opportunities overseas, spark new ideas and build a range of partners worldwide. This initiative was open to eligible parties across education, tourism, trade and investment organisations in the UK. Among the 25 winning bids were Birmingham’s Shakespeare 2016 project, Year of the English Garden, and Sheffield in China – which focussed on the region’s inbound business opportunities.

Acting as secretariat, VisitEngland administered the fund, while final decisions were made by a programme board comprising of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the British Council, UK Trade and Investment, VisitBritain, the Devolved Administrations and the Prime Minister’s Office.

Working collaboratively to support regional growth

GREAT Inverness Loch Ness Growth Fund campaign artworkAlongside the GREAT UK Challenge Fund, we were given the means to run three specific growth funds, to drive development in these regions.

The GREAT Inverness Loch Ness Fund is a four-year campaign to reposition Loch Ness and the Inverness area by increasing awareness and changing perceptions. The Fund aims to stimulate demand for the low season and increase the number of products sold in the travel trade, as well as extend the reach of the GREAT/Moments campaign. Working with VisitScotland and Visit Inverness Loch Ness, VisitBritain's digitally-led strategy encouraged visitors from France, The Netherlands and the USA to explore the area. Through our ‘tips for monster hunters’ digital content and social media activity, we packaged up a range of dramatic landscapes and unusual activities for visitors to experience.

Supported by press, bloggers, influencers and trade visits, the GREAT Inverness Loch Ness Fund resulted in:
  • 116,000 website visits
  • 14 million unique users reached
  • Over 7,700 external clicks
  • 2,600 competition entries
  • £357,000 media spend
GREAT Inverness Loch Ness Fund tips for monster hunting artwork
Repositioning the Inverness and Loch Ness offer
Northern England is GREAT video
South West Growth Fund media coverage
Building aspiration to explore the South West

Building aspiration to explore

South West Growth Fund campaign artwork for CornwallThe South West Tourism Growth Fund (SWTGF) and the Northern Tourism Growth Fund (NTGF) in England focused on building local and international visitors’ aspiration to explore. A range of activities set out to promote regions through campaigns, events, business visits, media engagement, partnered collaborations and travel trade activities.

With £5 million backing from the Government, alongside a further £2.2 million collaborative investment from partners in the public and private sectors, the SWTGF was designed to deliver economic growth in both the short and medium term. Targeting the key markets of Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Scandinavia and the United States, the SWTGF provided businesses with support to prepare for international visitors, helping to create relevant experiences for overseas guests, as well as integrated products.

As part of SWTGF, we partnered with key players to deliver a range of successful campaigns, including:
  • Positioning P&O Ferries’ route as the gateway to the South West
  • Featuring content on the South West in New York Magazine to build awareness
  • Promoting deals to encourage visitor booking through Expedia’s US bespoke digital content hub
  • Showcasing South West packages available at STA Travel Australia
  • Joining Etraveli on a digital campaign to promote the South West in Sweden and Denmark
  • Partnering with WOW Air through a digital advertising campaign to promote new air routes to the South West


Northern Tourism Growth Fund artwork for NorthumberlandThe NTGF – made up of £10 million from Government and match-funding from partners across the public and private sectors – set out to refresh perceptions of the North – and act as a catalyst for growth in the business and leisure industries.

Collaboration with media and trade partners has played a big role in boosting both the SWTGF and NTGF’s impact across key markets worldwide. Media partnerships in Europe, Australia and the USA helped increase regional exposure and create new products. These included building awareness of the North through’s series of articles shedding light on Northern cultural experiences – such as movie locations and literary journeys – as well as staging workshops with Expedia bringing together businesses and destinations to explore how best to work together to boost bookings.

As part of NTGF we partnered with key players to deliver a range of successful campaigns, including:
  • Thomas Cook’s digital campaign in the US, promoting inbound air routes
  • Hainan Airline’s promotion in China of the new gateway flight from Beijing to Manchester
  • Cathay Pacific partnership campaign in Australia, focussing on inbound flights with destination specific content
  • United Airlines partnered to promote their new Newark to Newcastle air route


2015/16 also saw the creation of another new local fund aiming to grow overall visitor numbers, stimulate demand and maximise capacity on existing routes. The North East – Scandinavia Marketing Project, a £300,000 campaign led by NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), aimed to raise awareness of Newcastle Gateshead as the gateway to explore North-East England through consumer PR and amongst the travel trade. Activity included promotion of the region with eTraveli, facilitated by VisitBritain.

The funds promoted regions through campaigns, events, business visits, relevant media, partnership collaborations and travel trade activities.