Timeline - 1969 to 1979



Royal Assent logo. Two white horses stand either side of a blue shieldPrior to the establishment of the BTA in 1969, British tourism had been promoted under the British Travel and Holidays Association, itself first created in 1929 as the Travel Association of Great Britain and Ireland. It ran the long-running "Come to Britain" campaign for 50 years prior to the establishment of the British Tourist Authority. 


    • The Development of Tourism Act 1969 gained Royal Assent, which set up the British Tourist Authority (BTA) along with national boards for England, Scotland and Wales, sponsored by the Board of Trade. Its first chairman was Sir Alexander Glen with director general Leonard Lickorish.
    • A key message during the 1970s was “a place is only acceptable to visit if it is a pleasure to live in” – which was championed by BTA’s first chair Sir Alexander Glen.
    • Marketing activities emphasised the people of Britain, the English language and the "intriguing blend of history and new achievements. London features as the capital of a new Europe, a world-leader of theatre and music, centre both of pageantry and the young".
    • Countryside activities were promoted "from antique hunting in quiet Cotswold villages to skiing in Scotland's Cairngorms, climbing or pony-trekking in Wales, sailing or equitation in the West country" along with the message that Britain was a country for "all seasons".
    • Press and advertising activity took place in 22 countries, making wide use of press, radio, television and films, supported by the BTA's 24 overseas offices with close relations with travel trade and carriers.
    • Overseas promotion focused on both maintaining traditional markets and developing new markets by concentrating on specific types of travel, eg motoring visitors, young people and business and conference visitors.



    • 3 black and white images of Holidays in Britain brochuresThe year saw an increase of 16% in overseas visitors to 6.69 million to the UK. 
    • "Holidays in Britain” brochure produced. Over 1 million copies in 25 editions and 12 languages.
    • "Britain - October to March" publication supported BTA's work in promoting off-peak travel and appeared in 17 editions in 10 languages, with a circulation of 311,000 copies distributed.



    • The Foretaste of Britain '71 was a special promotion organised by the BTA in co-operation with the Egon Ronay Organisation. The aim of Foretaste of Britain was to make better known overseas the wide range of world-class hotels and restaurants in Britain, together with the "many civilised leisure pursuits enjoyed by visitors to this country". 50 leading food and travel writers and gastronomes from 15 different countries attended the four-day event in November 71. The PR activity resulted in 500 feature articles praising British hotels and restaurants around the world and in turn hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of publicity for the Come to Britain campaign.
    • Films and music campaigns featured heavily in 1971, such as The Song of Britain film, The Welcome Inn and Cotswold Journey, produced with British Leyland Motor Corporation. 
    • BTA's short film on London, A City for All Seasons, won first place in the Gold Camera Awards at the US Industrial Film Festival in Chicago, and a Bronze medal at the Atlanta International Film Festival. 
    • 46 educational tours took place for travel agents from 21 countries including the US, Mexico, Australia, Argentina and European countries.



    • The first centrally coordinated world advertising campaign, “Britain – a Treasure House of History”, was mounted in 21 different markets.
    • The Taste of Scotland campaign in co-operation with the Scottish Tourist Board and the British Airports Authority took place aimed at North American and European markets. 
    • The first Welsh joint overseas promotion for Tenby was carried out in the Netherlands and Belgium.
    • The radio department produced over 1,780 tapes to be sent out overseas. They contained programmes for broadcasting organisations and individual stations around the world.
    • Three major films were produced: Splendours of Britain made with Wilkinson Sword Ltd; Gardens of Britain and Windows on the Past, highlighting Britain's museums.
    • The Song of Britain film won the Gold Camera Award at the US Industrial Film Festival in Chicago.
    • BTA produced and distributed a range of books on the countries and regions of Britain which included maps and itineraries. 19.3 million pieces of literature were distributed around the world.



    • A black and white photo of a BTA shop windowBritain joins the European Economic Community on January 1 1973, BTA co-operated in planning and promoting the ‘Fanfare for Europe’ celebrations.
    • A London Bus on tour visited 23 cities in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland – 43,000 people visited the bus and 8,000 enquiries were made.
    • The Oil Crisis led to “The Reassurance Campaign” to assure visitors of a warm welcome and emphasise Britain as a place of value for money and "little inconvenience".


    • The BTA worked in partnership with the national tourist boards for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and bodies such as the Countryside Commission, the Forestry Commission and the Sports Council to support the upcoming European Architectural Heritage Year 1975. 
    • The Reassurance campaign continued in Canada in partnership with British Airways, British Caledonian and British Rail as well as hotel groups to include adverts in Canadian press to "illustrate the normality of day to day activities in Britain". This was also done later in Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
    • 52 joint overseas promotions were held over the year, including one with the Corporation of Aberdeen to bring the International Festival of Youth Orchestras to Aberdeen, with the invitation to make a permanent home there.



    • Pearly Kings and Queens in Australia stood in front of a carJoint campaign run in conjunction with British Airways, British Rail, British Transport Hotels, Trust House Forte and Avis to emphasise value for money to US visitors to continue the Reassurance message. 
    • European campaigns focused on spring/summer travel to lesser-known areas of Britain, and short-stay visits in the autumn and winter, particular to London. 
    • Publicity events featured British celebrities, the Pearly Kings and Queens, the Loch Ness Monster and medieval performers. 



    • BTA's promotions budget exceeded £1million for the first time. This resulted in more than 60 campaigns held throughout the year, with 47 in European markets. 
    • Two European markets ran advertising for the first time in four years - Austria and Finland. This involved Thomson Thoresen and Sealink in Austria, and British Airways, Tor Line and Silja in Finland.



    • A black and white image of Dame Vera Lynn holding a brochure on the Royal Silver JubileeThe year of the Royal Silver Jubilee saw an extensive programme of events take place for BTA's overseas promotions. Our “Operation Friendship” campaign invited thousands globally who had served in Britain either in a military or civilian capacity to make a return pilgrimage to Britain during the Silver Jubilee. Earl Mountbatten of Burma became patron of the campaign, which gained the support of the Royal Commonwealth Society among others. Those eligible for an invite to Britain received a set of 50 Jubilee coupons which offered savings on food, drink, accommodation and admissions throughout the UK. Overseas promotions included a tour by "Forces' Sweetheart" Dame Vera Lynn in Canada and US resulting in "unprecedented coverage" for Britain coast to coast in the States. 
    • A North American workshop attracted 53 producers who met nearly 200 US tour operators in LA and New York.
    • The Youth Travel Workshop was held in Edinburgh was attended by a record number of suppliers who met overseas buyers from 31 countries. Workshops were also held in Rome and Amsterdam. 
    • BTA's “Come to Britain” campaign promoted UK regions using coloured pages in newspapers.



    • First British Travel Centre opens in Frankfurt, run as a partnership between BTA, British Rail and British Airways to provide a one-stop shop for visitors to Britain.
    • BTA takes on overseas marketing services for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the Isle of Man Tourist Board, the States of Jersey Tourism Committee and the States of Guernsey Tourist Committee. 
    • The BTA produced a map of London hotels for distribution, to show the large stock of bookable hotel rooms available in Central London. This was in response to a press comment regarding London being "full" over summer. The map was well-received in the States.



    • As part of an increasing programme to partner with non-tourism brands, the BTA ran a “Come to Britain” on-pack promotion with Kellogg's which resulted in thousands of enquiries from Germany. 


    VisitBritain/VisitEngland logo. Celebrating 50 years