Our history

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. Since our inception, 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. 

Pre-COVID 19, 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, 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.

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

Celebrating 50 Years 1969-2019

logo of VBVE 50 anniversary
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

Timeline - 1969 to 1979

 A collage of vintage marketing materials from the 1970s showing VisitBritain's activities and campaigns.
Read our key activities and achievements for 1969-1979

Escape the Everyday DMO Marketing Fund 2020/21

A man kitesurfing in Cornwall
Check if you're eligible and apply for the Escape the Everyday Destination Management Organisations’ Recovery Marketing Fund. The Fund provides the opportunity for DMOs to apply for grant funding to deliver local marketing activities aligned to the national campaign.

Timeline - 1980 to 1989

A collage of vintage marketing materials showing VisitBritain's activities and campaigns from the 1980s.
Read our key activities and achievements for 1980-89

Timeline - 1990 to 1999

A collage of vintage marketing materials showing VisitBritain's activities and campaigns from the 1990s.
Read our key activities and achievements for 1990-1999

Timeline - 2000 to 2009

A collage of vintage marketing materials showing VisitBritain's activities and campaigns from the 2000s.
Read our key activities and achievements for 2000-2009

Timeline - 2010 to 2020

A collage of vintage marketing materials showing VisitBritain's activities and campaigns from the 2010s.
Read our key activities and achievements for 2010-2019

GREAT UK Challenge Fund

A car wrapped in the Union Jack speeds through the London bridge at night
The GREAT UK Challenge Fund was a merit-based initiative, operating as part of the overall GREAT campaign.

English Tourism Week 2020

ETW20 logo and dates
English Tourism Week, 31-25 May 2020, was a week-long celebration of English tourism. Find out more.

About the GREAT China Welcome Programme

Bubblewrap streetfood in Chinatown, London
Find out about our past initiative for businesses committed to providing exceptional service to Chinese travellers.

Tourism Superstar 2020

Tourism Superstar collage 2020
Our annual Tourism Superstar contest recognises the dedication and passion of those working in the tourism industry.