We have continued to benefit from GREAT funding, working alongside the Department for International Trade, the British Council and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. That pot of money is essential to us and yet it is only confirmed on an annual basis. For 2016-17 our core funding levels were £19.4 million for VisitBritain and £7 million for VisitEngland, with GREAT funding of £22.8 million. The exchange rate drop of 16% over the past two years has made our delivery in international markets even more challenging when we are buying in foreign currencies.
We have amplified our activity by working with commercial partners – some of the biggest names in tourism such as British Airways and Expedia, and some well known brands such as the Premier League and the BBC – who have contributed £20 million cash and in-kind in 2016-17 to our campaigns. And we have generated a net income of £2.23 million from our retail activities enabling product suppliers to reach international customers. I am pleased to announce that even in such difficult trading times the BTA has delivered £872 million of economic value to the UK. That means for every pound invested in us £20 of additional spend is generated for the economy.
VisitEngland has also had a strong focus on setting up and running the Discover England Fund (DEF) to build world-class bookable product. In year one (2016-17), we have supported 20 pilot projects. In this financial year, we are building on this by supporting a number of large scale projects of over £1 million – six have been announced to date – that will each run over two years, as well as continuing to support smaller test and learn projects. The collaboration and innovation that has already been spurred by these investments has stepped us up a gear in ensuring that we are continuing to offer a great experience for our customers.
As a new Chair, I have plenty of people to thank for supporting me through my first six months. First, of course, my predecessor, Christopher Rodrigues, with whom I worked as a Board member – we still see him around as he is Chairman of the British Council – Penelope, Viscountess Cobham, whose term as VisitEngland Advisory Board Chairman ended in March 2017 and her successor Denis Wormwell who was also an Advisory Board member in 2016/17. My thanks to both Boards who give of their time and expertise, and to Sally and the team who delivered the great results that you can read about in this annual review. Finally thank you to our sponsoring department, DCMS, and to the former tourism minister, Tracey Crouch. I look forward to continuing to develop our relationship with the new tourism minister, John Glen.
I believe the case for investment in tourism and in the work that the BTA does to support its growth is well-evidenced and compelling. I look forward to working with you to ensure that we deliver the full potential of this wonderful industry.