Shining a global spotlight on Britain - Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022

28 July 2023

Putting Birmingham, the West Midlands and Britain on the world stage. Promoting our tourism and hospitality offering. Driving future bookings.

Latest updates on our activity - July 2023:

Celebrating one-year on:

As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, we’re celebrating the work our international marketing programmes delivered to cement Britain’s reputation for hosting a world-class sporting event and make the West Midlands a must-visit destination. 

For over two years, VisitBritain worked to grow the appeal of the West Midlands, focusing on the three markets with the strongest connections to Britain: Australia, Canada, and India. These markets are the source of two and a half million UK visitors annually, who spend billions, and deliver 160,000 sports tourists to the UK each year. 

Our programme first grew awareness and familiarity of the West Midlands region, then active inspiration, and ultimately a consideration to visit. The integrated brand and partnership campaign approach brought to life the huge diversity of visitor experiences in the heart of England, using the “One Region Many Worlds” creative. We built the hype and excitement around the Commonwealth Games and continues to promote its legacy to this day. 

During the Games, we were on the ground hosting more than 60 top tier media and key tourism industry leaders from across Australia, Canada and India. Paid media and partnerships targeted VisitBritain’s priority experience seeker, sports and culturally curious audiences. 14 global media content campaigns were delivered, 23 stories and campaign videos were created, along with 400 new video and image assets for VisitBritain’s global partners to use in promotion of the region. 

To ensure the travel trade could convert the growing demand for the West Midlands, we undertook an extensive trade education programme, training up to 2,000+ travel agents and tour operators, and embarked on multi-city roadshows to further spread the word. International buyers also attended the dedicated ‘Tourism Day’, hosted by VisitBritain in partnership with the West Midlands Growth Company at UK House during the Games (further details below).

The results of our efforts were immense and helped create an unprecedented international profile for the West Midlands:

  • Awareness and familiarity of the West Midlands grew in all three countries by 6%
  • Consideration to visit increased by 11%
  • 87% of the travel trade engaged, developed new or modified products for the West Midlands region
  • Over 4,000 holiday bookings in the first year alone 

Our efforts didn’t stop with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Marketing efforts continue to build momentum and deliver a legacy beyond the Games, ensuring that the West Midlands remains a must-see destination in Britain for international visitors.

For more information on our work, please see below. 

Educational visits:

During the Games, VisitBritain welcomed more than 40 top travel buyers, tour operators and trade media from Australia, Canada and India on educational visits to Birmingham and the West Midlands, in partnership with the West Midlands Growth Company. This was part of our wider programme of work through the Business and Tourism Programme.

The international buyers met to do business with British travel trade suppliers and destinations from the West Midlands region during the Games as part of a dedicated ‘Tourism Day’ which took place on 5 August 2022, at UK House, The Commonwealth Business Hub. The trade showcase, hosted by VisitBritain in partnership with the West Midlands Growth Company, was part of the programme of events, led by the Department for International Trade. Britain’s ability to host world-class sporting events was in the global spotlight during the Games and the Tourism Day presented a great opportunity for leading industry stakeholders, including our CEO Patricia Yates, to come together to highlight the importance of major events to the visitor economy, further harnessing opportunities to drive tourism across the nations and regions.

Focusing on diversity, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games was the ‘Games for Everyone’, with Birmingham a truly global city, home to people from more than 180 countries.

Taking place from 28 July to 8 August 2022, the Games were the biggest sporting and cultural event ever held in Birmingham, with thousands of world class athletes, more than one million spectators, reaching an estimated global audience of 1.5 billion.

Running alongside the sporting programme was a six-month cultural festival, the Birmingham 2022 Festival, which took place from March 2022 to celebrate creativity across the West Midlands. The Queen’s Baton Relay also travelled around the Commonwealth in the lead up to the Games, including a historic stop in Dubai, UAE, in February 2022 as part of UK National Day at Dubai Expo, and the UK before arriving in Birmingham for the Opening Ceremony on 28 July. The relay also travelled to our key markets of Australia, Canada and India, where we welcomed the arrival of the Baton, leveraging the event to build awareness of the West Midlands and Britain with key tourism partners including airlines, tour operators and travel agents, as well as consumer and trade media.

The UK Government also funded a £24 million, three year, Business and Tourism Programme (BATP). Focusing on tourism, trade and investment, the programme has been delivered by a range of national and regional partners including VisitBritain and is supporting in cementing the region, and Britain, as a globally sought after location to visit, invest and live.VisitBritain received circa £2 million funding from the BATP for the two-year programme, working with the West Midlands Growth Company, to promote and boost awareness of the West Midland’s tourism offer in Australia, Canada and India. The programme focused around converting the inspiration to visit into bookings and to encourage visitors to explore more and stay longer, stimulating spend in the tourism sector in the lead-up to the Games and beyond.

Activity across these markets ranged from content partnerships with media to training and engagement with in-market travel trade to boost awareness of the region’s tourism offer, as well as activity across both our business-to-business and business-to-consumer channels. Also, by using key milestone events in-market, for example The Queen’s Baton Relay events, countdown milestones ‘One Year to Go’ celebrated in July 2021, ‘100 Days to Go’ on 19 April and 50 Days to Go on 8 June, working with Government partners, stakeholders, travel trade and media, we are ensuring the widest reach. 

Pan-campaign markets

In the lead up to the Games, we launched a dedicated hub on our consumer websites in Australia, Canada and India (as well as a hub on our global site) using the Games as a hook boosting awareness/building familiarity, and educating audiences ready to convert to book travel during and post-Games. 

Our ‘Welcome to Another Side of Britain’ global marketing campaign also harnessed the Games alongside last year’s other landmark events including HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the ground breaking series of ‘Unboxed’ creative events across the UK.

We also delivered a wide range of activity as part of BATP, see some highlights broken down by market in the drop downs below: 

  • Integrated destination coverage of the West Midlands into Australian broadcast rights holder Seven Network’s B2022 sports programme, including amplifying with a video display campaign on Seven’s digital platforms.
  • Delivered a business and consumer content campaign with a major travel partner to leverage the hype and spotlight on Birmingham and the West Midlands to build destination legacy and drive 2023 bookings.
  • Delivered a programme of familiarisations, media outreach and travel trade engagement/training to generate editorial and raise travel industry/stakeholder awareness of the Games, the West Midlands and key milestones.
    Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) visit to Australia (March 2022). The QBR visit included a spectacular large-scale light projection (18 March) of the Baton's epic global journey, and the West Midlands, onto Campbell's Stores in The Rocks precinct on Sydney Harbour, hosted by VisitBritain and the West Midlands as part of the Birmingham 2022 Business and Tourism Programme (BATP). The projection also amplified the core Games’ brand assets, including ‘One World Many Regions’ - the hero narrative for the BATP. The projection was the only public-facing appearance for the Baton in Australia.
  • To extend the reach beyond the Sydney based activation, VisitBritain also created social and web content from the projection for use across all partner channels. Content was also used as part of trade and media engagement in the lead up to, and beyond Birmingham 2022. 
  • A paid content partnership with the BBC in Australia created a ‘content hub’ on the BBC’s website with stories and new films highlighting visitor experiences across the West Midlands and reflecting our GREAT ‘Welcome to Another Side of Britain’ campaign themes - outdoor city activities, city food tours, iconic city attractions with a modern twist and culture. Included bespoke stories, social content and films highlighting the West Midlands and amplifying VisitBritain’s ‘Welcome to Another Side of Britain’ narrative. Examples of content: Britain’s cultural heart; Finding Peace in Unexpected Places; Birmingham’s Famous Forward Steps: The content partnership was supported by a ‘brand solus’ campaign across social and video channels (ran Nov 21-March 22).
  • Developed and launched a bespoke, dedicated online training hub for the travel trade in Australia on – featuring West Midlands’ key destinations, experiences and practical touring information to boost awareness of region’s tourism offer and supporting agents to sell.
  • Worked with one of Australia’s largest travel companies Helloworld Travel to boost awareness of the West Midlands and its key destinations, products, experiences to drive bookings, supported by a dedicated training programme. The co-operative marketing campaign was amplified across HelloWorld’s consumer and trade databases and marketing channels (print, paid digital and social, point-of-sale), its partner owned channels consumer, and B2B engagement.

Collage of educational trips with Australia travel trade for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Credit: VB

  • A paid content campaign with Canadian Broadcast Company (broadcast rights holder). The campaign included a dedicated content hub on with stories and video highlighting Birmingham and the West Midlands’ key products, stories and experiences that reflect our Welcome to Another Side of Britain narrative including outdoor city activities, city food tours, and iconic city attractions with a modern twist and culture.
  • Canada welcomed the Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) from 26-29 May 2022 with stops in Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa. As part of the Baton’s visit, VisitBritain hosted a ‘showcase’ event co-hosted by British Tourist Authority chair Dame Judith Macgregor in Toronto to showcase Birmingham and the West Midlands to the Canadian tourism industry including media, tour operators, airlines and travel agents. Additional QBR events included trade workshops and media interviews.
  • Hosted press and trade educational visits from Canada in March 2022 with tailored itineraries to Birmingham and the West Midlands. Included nine Canadian trade partners on an educational visit to London and the West Midlands in the run-up to Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. VisitBritain also hosted top tier consumer media from Canada on a press trip to the West Midlands as well as London and Windsor (with a Platinum Jubilee focus) highlighting Welcome to Another Side of Britain storytelling. This followed two press trips to the region the previous November generating earned media coverage.
  • A paid content campaign with the Globe & Mail and Le Devoir (French language) media outlets in Canada with destination stories to build awareness of Birmingham and the West Midlands with a mix of digital, print and social media promotion. You can view an example from the Globe & Mail here: View an example from Le Devoir here:
  • Worked with the Travel Leaders Network on an educational campaign with the travel trade in Canada - building product and destination awareness to drive bookings using digital content, workshops and webinars. 

Collage of educational trips with Canada travel trade for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Credit: VB

  • Paid consumer content campaign with Reliance JIO, one of India’s largest Telecom service providers and content creators. It included developing new content to promote experiences and boosting awareness of activities and attractions across the West Midlands, inspiring Indian travellers to include these on their next trip. The first phase saw a series of short films with two Indian ‘influencers’, on-air in India from 20 February on Jio’s digital platforms (Jio TV & Cinemas). You can watch the initial promotional video on YouTube. Season 2 of the campaign was launched in July 2022 with a social media heavy competition to choose a winner to #UnboxBritain through their own eyes and showcase the best of West Midlands and Britain to Indian audiences.
  • Hosted a delegation of industry partners and media to the West Midlands and sporting events during the Games.
  • Hosted trade engagement events and travel industry educational roadshows across India (July 2022 – February 2023) to promote West Midlands and the tourism products on offer, driving bookings. The focus was also on extending travel packages by two to three nights, broadening travel itineraries and encouraging visitors to explore further and stay longer.

Collage of educational trips with India travel trade for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Credit: VB

Wider promotion - promoting Global Britain

The 2022 Games also provided us with wider opportunities to promote Global Britain, our messages of welcome and reassurance as well as demonstrate Britain’s ability to host sporting events of the highest calibre, all whilst boosting local businesses. The UK Government’s ‘Tourism Recovery Plan’  includes the ambition for the UK to be ‘the world’s meeting place’ and highlighted the Games as a key opportunity to promote the UK as the leading destination for world class events.

We have seen the positive impact that major sporting events including the  London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games  and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games can have on a country’s international standing. Following the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games Britain’s overall ‘nation brand’ improved, so did international perceptions of our welcome. Britain is also already highly regarded for its sporting excellence and its sporting offer, ranking fourth-out-of-60 countries for this attribute in the 2021 Nations Brand Index.