Best of UK tourism on virtual show at VisitBritain’s global trade event ‘ExploreGB’

23 February 2021

VisitBritain is gearing up to host virtually its flagship global travel trade event ExploreGB from 1 to 5 March.

ExploreGB Virtual is bringing together more than 350 global buyers to connect online with 350 tourism industry suppliers and destinations from across the UK to do business.

Travel industry buyers and journalists from 20 countries are joining the event including from some of the UK’s largest and most valuable inbound visitor markets - Australia, China, the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) markets, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the USA.

More than 1000 pre-scheduled one-to-one virtual business meetings will take place during the event.

Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston said:

“The tourism sector makes an enormous economic contribution to our country and I'm grateful that VisitBritain's ExploreGB trade event will give businesses and suppliers the opportunity to meet and connect with buyers around the world."

"I have no doubt that these connections will prove invaluable as the industry builds back better from the challenges faced over the last year and I look forward to continuing to work closely with the sector to do so."

VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

ExploreGB Virtual gives travel industry suppliers and destinations from across the UK the chance to promote their outstanding tourism products and services to top global buyers and forge valuable, lasting business connections.

“This flagship global trade event will also keep the UK front of mind as a competitive, leading destination, inspiring future travel and broadening travel itineraries as visitors explore more and contribute to local economies.”

ExploreGB Virtual accommodates all times zones with a scheduled programme for international buyers from both short and long haul destinations. Delegates can manage their own diaries across the five-day event with the virtual platform open daily from 06.00-23.00 GMT. 

The online event gets underway with VisitBritain’s ‘International Business Exchange,’ for UK suppliers to meet with VisitBritain in-country experts to get the latest market insights. This is followed by three days of 1-2-1 virtual appointments for suppliers and international buyers. Delegates can also explore live exhibition booths with UK suppliers promoting their latest tourism products and services. There is also an educational day for travel agents. 

Buyers and international journalists are also attending webinars and networking events to boost their knowledge of the UK as a visitor destination. Sessions are also being held on major cultural, sporting and heritage events and exhibitions in 2021 and beyond, highlighting destinations and visitor experiences across the nations and regions.

ExploreGB Virtual follows VisitBritain’s inaugural MeetGB Virtual business event held in June last year.

Inbound tourism was worth more than £28 billion to the UK economy in 2019.


What’s on in Britain in 2021 & 2022- *correct at time of writing.

Celebrations, anniversaries, major events:


  • The UK's official 2021 City of Culture, Coventry, is promising a programme of art, theatre, dance and literature for 2021. To date, three major events are mapped out with more being announced in the coming months:
  • May “Coventry Moves” will open the Year of Culture on Saturday May 15 2021, including city-wide participation, installation, performance, movement over digital and broadcast channels.
  • June/July “Tides within Us:” Combining audio storytelling and digital installations, visitors will be taken on an immersive journey through London Road Cemetery and Charterhouse Fields tracking the flow of oxygen through our bodies and the way this echoes the ecosystems of the natural world around us.
  • September – January: The Turner Prize 2021 will take place in Coventry at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. The exhibition of the Turner Prize’s shortlisted artists will be from September 29 2021 to January 12 2022, with the announcement of the winner on December 1 2021.


2021: Gardens and the Great Outdoors:

  • Wales celebrates its Year of Outdoors highlighting outdoor pursuits, sports and adventure, wellbeing and mindfulness – promoting the 870-mile Coastal Path (a continuous walking path around its entire coastline); its three national parks; 600 castles; its Outstanding Areas of Natural Beauty and Dark Sky Reserves.
  • Scotland continues its ‘Year of Coasts & Waters’ this year, highlighting its stunning shorelines, lochs and coastal traditions.
  • This year is set to see the completion of the full England Coast Path, the longest continuous coastal walking path in the world (around 2,700 miles). Discover which areas of the National Trail are open on its website. England’s Coast has also dedicated 2021 to the ‘Year of the Coast’ – and expanded the programme across three years to 2023.
  • The RHS Garden Bridgewater, the largest gardening project in Europe, is set to open in May 2021, with a new spectacular 154-acre garden, transforming the historic grounds of Worsley New Hall in Salford into a beautiful green place for the local community and visitors to enjoy all year-round.
  • Chelsea Flower Show, London: For the first time in its 108 year history, the RHS is postponing RHS Chelsea Flower Show to the autumn instead of spring. The 2021 Show, which would have taken place between 18 May and 23 May, has been moved to run from 21 to 26 September. The RHS, the show organisers, will still hold the world-famous event at The Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London.
  • England’s Creative Coast - a new cultural travel experience for 2021 featuring seven new site-specific artworks by leading contemporary artists and the world’s first-ever art digital GeoTour is connecting and celebrating the distinct, creative coastline across Kent, Essex and Sussex.


2021: Exhibitions, Festivals and Heritage:

  • Following expansion and restoration work, Nottingham Castle, along with the Ducal Palace and the sprawling cave system below, is due to reopen in spring 2021 after a £29.4 million investment, symbolising a renovation of almost 1,000 years of British history.
  • In Manchester city centre, a series of expansions at well-loved cultural venues will be completed throughout 2021 starting with a new Special Exhibition Gallery at the Science and Industry Museum  ‘Top Secret.’ See Marketing Manchester’s website for more information on ’21 new things to look forward to in Greater Manchester in 2021 – and beyond.’
  • The new Archway Project in Bath is due to open in 2021, converting the former Victorian spa buildings close to the Roman Baths. The new renovations will create new learning spaces for groups and schools and a World Heritage Centre exploring the historic city.
  • The Imperial War Museum, London, opens its new Second World War and Holocaust galleries with a £30.5 million expansion.
  • The Illuminated River project, which is transforming some of London’s iconic bridges with colourful lighting, is due to be completed in spring 2021. Displays will appear across Blackfriars Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, the Golden Jubilee Footbridges, Westminster Bridge and Lambeth Bridge.
  • The Broadway hit, Moulin Rouge! The Musical, an opulent jukebox production based on the film starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, is set to arrive in London’s West End in autumn 2021.
  • Silk Mill, in Derby, said to be the site of the world’s first factory, is celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2021. A new Museum of Making will be opening at the site, in the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site, celebrating the area’s rich history of innovation and featuring about 30,000 objects from Britain’s industrial past as well as hands-on experiences and immersive displays.
  • Rye Harbour Discovery Centre, Sussex. Enjoy one of the most biodiverse areas for wildlife in the UK with a visit to the Rye Harbour Discovery Centre opening in 2021. The new centre will transform the way visitors engage with the 110-acre reserve, which inhabits 4,200 plant and animal species including more than 200 rare or endangered birds and mammals.
  • Falmouth, Cornwall, will be hosting the start of the Tall Ships Race in August 2021. The event will see a fleet of tall ships from around the world arrive in the historic port of Falmouth in the days leading up to the 19 August as part of the Tall Ships Magellan-Elcano 500 Series 2021.


  • Looking ahead to 2022, Birmingham will host the Commonwealth Games -The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games (28 July to 8 August).
  • HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – (June 2022) 70th anniversary (a four-day celebration). The May Bank Holiday Weekend will be moved to Thursday 2 June and an additional Bank Holiday on Friday 3 June will see a four-day weekend to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
  • Festival UK 2022: will run throughout 2022 to showcase the UK's creativity and innovation to the world.


See for more information on ‘What’s on in 2021’.