Supporting a thriving English tourism industry

Advising English businesses
Sharing best practice
Helping businesses grow
Opportunities to see from English Tourism Week media coverage topped 135m

Raising awareness of England’s tourism offer. Driving up quality and customer service. Encouraging visitors to explore further. Through our engagement campaigns and business support we’ve advised the English tourism industry on ways to grow.

Ensuring English tourism delivers for visitors

Business Advice Hub on VisitBritain.comThis year we continued to work closely with destinations, attractions, accommodation suppliers and other businesses in the tourism sector to ensure visitor expectations are met. Whether it’s showcasing the best of the sector, creating ambassadors, encouraging tourism operators to consider accessibility, or providing a Business Advice Hub for micro/small to medium sized businesses, 2015/16 saw us continue to work with stakeholders at every level to remain competitive and meet customer needs.

Raising awareness of the tourism offer

From showcasing the quality and vibrancy of the industry to highlighting what tourism adds to the economy, English Tourism Week celebrates our dynamic sector and the people that work within it.

In 2016, we launched the week with a video message from its patron HRH Prince Charles. We promoted the video via a tweet that received 107,356 impressions and generated widespread media coverage. We also continued to work with destination organisations and local businesses, encouraging them to run events and create special offers for visitors to discover the destinations on their doorstep. Over 300 businesses shared their events and offers on our online guide and harnessed the power of social media to share what was happening across the country, achieving a social reach of close to 1 million.

We also worked to create ambassadors who would champion the importance of English tourism in Parliament. Framed by the latest performance figures we once again supported the Tourism Alliance in hosting a parliamentary reception, which reached 70 MPs. On top of this, we matched MPs with destination organisations in their local constituencies and invited them to visit local businesses during the week to deepen their understanding of the value of tourism to the local visitor economy.

English Tourism Week in numbers…
  • 135 million opportunities to see through English Tourism Week media coverage
  • 643 pieces of coverage were generated
  • Our Tourism Superstar competition received 12,500 public votes
  • Regional PR activity generated 27 broadcast media pieces including Sky TV, BBC and ITV
  • We achieved over 295,000 impressions for #ETW16 and associated hashtags
  • 70 MPs engaged with at the Tourism Alliance's parliamentary reception


Celebrating tourism’s brightest stars

English Tourism Week also saw the culmination of two of our programmes to help develop quality, customer service and excellence within the industry.

2016 saw 11 finalists, nominated by our destination partners for Tourism Superstar, in association with the Daily Mirror. The shortlisted nominees were filmed and put to the public vote on the Mirror website. The competition received 12,500 votes and reached a potential national audience of 12 million, with the winner – Lilian Groves from Durham Cathedral – announced during English Tourism Week. 

Our Awards for Excellence celebrated the very best of the sector, recognising achievements in customer service, sustainability and accessibility. The Awards – which attracted over 400 applications across 16 categories – were presented at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, with this year’s Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award going to the BBC Countryfile team.

BBC Countryfile at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2016
Recognising success in English tourism at our Awards
A video of the Tourism Superstar nominees 2016
English Tourism Week 2016
Highlighting the value of tourism to the economy

Helping businesses to grow and succeed

From creating partnerships and sharing best practice, to working with over 14,000 accommodation and visitor attraction businesses on a one-to-one basis through our National Quality Assurance Schemes, we provided advice and support for businesses across the country.

This year saw the continued delivery of our online Business Advice Hub, where businesses can find information, guidance and support on everything from legislation to making the most of digital marketing.

Reaching over 13,000 unique page views in August 2016, the Hub also played host to a new flip book format of Quality Edge this year, helping our biannual magazine reach an even wider audience. The magazine shares best practice across the sector through inspiring case studies and practical tips to help businesses improve their performance and achieve exceptional hospitality. A survey conducted in 2016 revealed that 84% of readers ‘like’ Quality Edge, and 76% of readers have implemented a tip or followed good practice from the magazine.

A fresh approach to developing the visitor experience

VisitEngland visitor attraction scheme quality marqueAs part of our commitment to improving quality for visitors, we manage a number of quality assessment schemes designed to help businesses reach their full potential.

These include our National Quality Assessment Scheme for accommodation providers. The scheme is delivered under licence by Quality in Tourism (and franchise licence arrangements with a small number of very large self-catering agencies) who award VisitEngland star ratings.  

Additionally, our range of ‘experience’ assessment schemes helps businesses to promote themselves. Not only does it also offer a recognisable star rating for businesses (including visitor attractions, horse racecourses, motorway service stations and pubs) but the scheme provides a way for businesses to see how they measure up against competitors.

This year, our team of assessors improved the tailored advice provided to participants, covering everything from assistance with legislation and online marketing, to advice on managing customer expectations and targeting new markets. They also share insights around best practice, new industry trends and customer preferences.

Through the scheme we support businesses to succeed. In understanding how to attract and cater for customers, we enable suppliers to improve the visitor experience, driving up the potential for longer stays, increased spend and return visits. This in turn boosts job creation and retention, helping tourism businesses of all kinds become more profitable and successful.

Over the last year, the operating environment has changed significantly and a report commissioned by the national tourist boards and the AA (the Common Standards Partners) concluded that a review should be undertaken with a decision on potential future delivery to be made in early 2017.

Providing advice for accessibility

VisitEngland's Purple Pound Infographic

In 2015/16 we continued to raise awareness and provide advice to help tourism businesses and destinations cater for visitors with access requirements – a market worth £12 billion. This year, our successful collaborative project Access for All – co-funded by the European Commission – went from strength to strength. It culminated in a national consumer marketing campaign which generated over £32 million in incremental spend and improved perceptions of England as an accessible holiday destination. The campaign increased knowledge of accessible tourism products in England through the publication of seven coastal, countryside and city itineraries, online and print adverts and competitions.

Our commitment to supporting and promoting accessible tourism venues is breaking new ground this year too. In partnership with VisitScotland, we’ve been developing a digital platform to help tourism businesses create new style Accessibility Guides. Businesses will be able to begin creating guides using a beta service later this year. In 2017 published guides will be searchable by consumers, so they can make an informed choice as to where to stay and visit.

Assessing our offer to ensure we are effective

In response to the Government’s Tourism Action Plan published in August 2016, which highlights the need to support small to medium businesses driving growth, we have been reviewing the role we play and the activities we provide as an organisation. An overwhelming number of small and medium sized businesses make up the tourism industry, providing employment in some of our most rural communities and enjoyment to millions. We want to support those businesses to succeed and grow, and we are reviewing how best to do this – whether through our Business Advice Hub or by supporting more small businesses to attend major trade events, like ExploreGB, to improve their export capabilities.

Providing essential advice, our Business Advice Hub services include:
From creating partnerships and sharing best practice, to working with businesses on a one-to-one basis through our National Quality Assurance Schemes, we provided advice and support for destinations and businesses across the country.