Celebrating 50 Years 1969-2019

2019 marks 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.

Tourism is 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, worth 9% of GDP and supporting 10% of all jobs, is full of innovators, an industry which spans the country and where small changes have a big impact on our economy. Tourism needs no trade deals and can attract large inbound investment from around the world.

The ambition for Britain is 40 million inbound tourism visits by 2020, the first time we will break through the 40 million visit mark.

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 has in offering a warm welcome to the many millions of visitors who come to our shores. They also show our continued ability to compete internationally for visitors in what is a fiercely competitive global industry.

National tourism agency VisitBritain/VisitEngland builds England’s tourism product and raises Britain’s profile worldwide, increasing the volume and value of tourism exports and developing England and Britain’s visitor economy.  VisitBritain also promotes Britain internationally as a visitor destination as part of the UK Government’s global GREAT Britain campaign

At the end of last year, the UK Government confirmed that the tourism industry’s bid for a sector deal as part of its industrial strategy has now moved to an official negotiation. This is fantastic news and securing a sector deal is set to ensure our industry grows and thrives year-round.

As we mark our 50th anniversary this year, our priority continues to be to work collaboratively with businesses and organisations across the tourism landscape and with the UK Government, driving growth and innovation in the sector and cementing the competitiveness of one of Britain’s great industries.

Our activities

Over the past 50 years, we have been fortunate to witness huge growth and changes taking place in tourism, both in the UK and as a whole.

Throughout that period, our ever-evolving organisation has been continually honing our focus and activities to meet the needs and challenges of the day.  

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.

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