Inbound culture, heritage & attractions research

Britain is recognised as a world class destination for culture and heritage and these aspects of the British holiday offer are repeatedly identified as major draws for overseas visitors in our research.

The figures speak for themselves.  Through our sponsorship of specific questions in the International Passenger Survey (IPS) sightseeing famous monuments, visiting our museums and art galleries and our castles and historic houses are all within the top seven activites undertaken by international visitors.  

Indeed, through the Anholt Nations Brand Index (NBI) we have some insight into the perceptions of the UK's culture and heritage amongst respondents in 20 countries around the world.  The NBI consistently ranks the UK's strengths in history and cultre attributes including contemporary culture, historic buildings and cultural heritage.  More information on the perceptions of the UK head to our image overseas image page.

Our large-scale exploratory project in 2022 into the motivations, influences, decisions and sustainability (MIDAS) of inbound travellers also highlighted the strength and diversity of Britain's history. See the MIDAS research page for more information.

In 2014, we also conducted research into understanding the role of culture and heritage (PDF, 1.33MB). This research conducted amongst holiday-makers from Germany, France and the USA showed visitors sought opportunites to relax and destinations offering lots to see and do.  Other elements considered important in the holiday mix were famous places (buildings and attractions) and expectiations of a friendly welcome from the locals.  Along with the specfic culture and heritage attractions visitors were also seeking to connect and interact with culture and heritage, specifically:

What holiday makers look for from heritage and culture on holiday

Emotional Impact Different Experiences Immersion
To be moved and inspired Spiritually enriched Share with the 'natives'
Astonished and amazed Intellectually nourished Not just a spectator
Awed and intrigued Surprised, stretched Genuine, authentic experiences
To feel welcome Sense of discovering new places and things  

Download our commentary on the key findings (PDF, 2.37MB) from the study to gain a better understanding of the role of culture and heritage in holidays. Published December 2014.

During 2015, VisitBritain explored how best to leverage British Culture in Brazil, China and Italy.  Supporting previous research Britain’s built culture ranks highly with opportunities to turn up communications around ‘living the feeling’.  In this report we have suggested 10 top tips for marketing in these markets:

  • Including people in images making them more engaging
  • Promoting a discount works better in China than advertising something as free - the latter can be decoded as busy and for the masses, not the discerning
  • In Brazil and Italy, juxtapositions of old and new work well

You can download the full report and all 10 top tips here (PDF, 3.14MB)Published January 2016.