UK tourism industry gathers to sell destination Britain to world

VisitBritain is gearing up to host its largest ever global tourism trade event to promote destination Britain to the world.

Now in its third year ‘ExploreGB’ is heading south to Brighton. More than 400 international buyers from 40 countries will do business with 430 travel industry suppliers from across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at the event being held from Thursday 2 March to Friday 3 March at the Brighton Centre.

Buyers from Britain’s largest and most valuable inbound visitor markets including the USA, Germany, France, Canada and Australia are attending. Important growth markets including China, the world’s most valuable outbound market, India, Italy and the Gulf countries are also represented.

Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch said:

"ExploreGB is one of the highlights of the tourism industry calendar and a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase world-class attractions from all over the country to a global audience. 

"The UK attracted a record number of visitors to our shores in 2016 and this event will help us build on that success and promote the best of Britain abroad."

VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

“ExploreGB gives UK tourism suppliers and local destinations a valuable opportunity to get their products and services in front of hundreds of international buyers and do business with a broad range of global markets.

“International delegates will return home in no doubt about the outstanding quality of tourism products and experiences available across our nations and regions and that Britain is open for business.”

More than 41,000 business meetings are set to take place across the two-day event. Buyers also get to experience tourism products and services first-hand with pre-and-post event trips to destinations across the UK, including for 26 journalists from 16 countries. 

Delegates will also attend seminars and networking events to boost their knowledge of Britain as a tourist destination. VisitBritain will showcase its global #OMGB (Oh My GREAT Britain) ‘Home of Amazing Moments’ campaign to delegates during the event to promote the diversity of amazing experiences that visitors can only get in Britain. It is part of the UK Government’s GREAT campaign to promote what makes Britain a great place to visit, study, invest and do business.

Latest figures from VisitBritain show that 2016 was a record-breaker for inbound tourism to the UK with 37.3 million visits, up 3% on 2015 with visitors spending £22.2 billion, matching 2015’s record spend. The figures showed growth in 2016 from North America with 4.3 million visits, up 7% on 2015. There were a record 25.3 million visits from the EU in 2016, up 4% on 2015.

Comparing growth during the last six years shows there were 7.5 million more visits in 2016 than 2010, an increase of 25%.

The UK tourism industry is worth £127 billion annually to the economy. It is also a job creator, for example every 22 additional Chinese visitors that come to Britain create an additional job in the sector.