Celebrating 50 Years 1969-2019

2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Development of Tourism Act 1969 which paved the way for the establishment of the British Tourist Authority (BTA) and the English Tourist Board, now known as VisitBritain/VisitEngland.

At the time, tourism was one of the UK’s most valuable export industries and growing faster than many other sectors. Worth £127 billion to the economy overall, the UK’s tourism’s industry, represenyed 9% of GDP and supported 10% of all jobs.

The ambition for Britain was to attract 40 million inbound tourism visits by 2020, and 40.9 million overseas visitors came to the UK in 2019, spending £28.4 billion. .

These figures are a testament to tourism’s importance as a driver of economic growth and they represent people from across the globe who come to enjoy our culture, heritage and countryside. They are a reminder of the crucial role that tourism plays as well as Britain's ability to compete internationally for visitors in what is a fiercely competitive global industry.

Since 1969 we have been successfully helping to boost the growth of both inbound and domestic tourism through our wide range of activities including marketing and PR campaigns, partnership working with industry and key players, and acting as advisor to Government. Throughout our history, we have witnessed huge changes in tourism, both in the UK and as a whole and have continually honed our focus and activities to meet the needs and challenges of the day.  


Our history

See our timelines below for highlights of our history, achievements and tourism developments over the past five decades.

A collage of images from the 1970's. Including pictures of destinations, brochures and people

A collage of images form the 1980's. Including brochures and people posing with people in fancy dress.

A collage of images form the 1990's. Including promotional posters for Britain and people sat around a table taking pat in a work shop.

A collage of images from the 2000's. Including screenshots of newspaper article promoting Britain and a Harry Potter poster.

A collage of images from the 2010's. Including screenshots of campaigns by VisitBritain and VisitEgland.

1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s