VisitBritain Chairman Nick de Bois CBE opening speech at Destination Britain North America

09 September 2023

VisitBritain Chairman Nick de Bois is leading VisitBritain's trade mission to North America, taking place from 7-10 September in San Francisco. Destination Britain North America is bringing together dozens of British suppliers and top buyers from Canada and the USA to do business. Below is the Chairman's opening speech to delegates as the three day trade event got underway.  

"Good morning everyone, and welcome again. I hope you are all well rested and looking forward to the day ahead.

This is my first time attending Destination Britain North America so I’ll be relying on you all to show me the ropes. I am delighted to have been able to come here during my first year as chairman to see our flagship trade event in action.

So far, my first year in post has been an exciting one. It has been my pleasure to lead the organisation whilst the global spotlight has focused on Britain with events including the Coronation and Eurovision. We showcased the very best of Britain to the world, promoting Britain as THE destination to visit now.

Our marketing campaigns inspire visitors to choose Britain for their next trip.

We’re using creativity to capture attention. Our latest US & Canada campaign, ‘Fake Br(it) til you make it’, showed Brits sharing a warm welcome in local accents, dialects promoting their destinations - from Scotland to Essex.

While this campaign has come to an end, we’re already thinking about how we give Britain its next starring role.

Looking ahead, we’ll continue to tell the stories of Britain’s regional diversity to drive growth – promoting our cultural offering through, for example, ‘screen tourism’. Film and TV are powerful motivators for travel and we know that a third of potential visitors to the UK are keen to visit destinations seen-on-screen and used in filming.

Filming locations also offer valuable opportunities to shine the spotlight on regional destinations, also less visited locations and to drive tourism through the shoulder seasons.

Our team is also looking to the future and in collaboration with US and UK industry, will build on the success of last year’s cooperative marketing programme, which exceeded expectations, beating both revenue and partner goals.

To build on this success, we are launching phase two of the campaign, in partnership with marketing agency, MMGY, offering engagement and conversion opportunities to industry to drive bookings.

Sheelagh Wylie and Alana Patton from MMGY will attend appointments with many of you to discuss this further throughout the conference.

To complement our campaigns and business development activity, I’ll be doing my best as chairman to work across government and industry to push Britain as a top destination for travellers. I want to reduce barriers to growth within the sector and see us climb the ladder for international competitiveness.

I will be making the strongest possible case for tourism everywhere I go. From the corridors of Whitehall, to national and international media, I will be banging the drum, making sure everyone recognises our sector as an economic powerhouse which drives growth across every nation and region.

This advocacy includes ensuring we have the right national and local infrastructure in place to grow our visitor economy, in an inclusive, accessible and sustainable way.

In 2021, I was asked by the UK Government to lead an independent review of Destination Management Organisations across England. For those of you who don’t know, you can think of a DMO as a local or regional tourist boards built around a destination.

Following the review, we are overseeing the transition of Destination Management Organisations into Local Visitor Economy Partnerships (LVEPs).

The new structure will help mitigate the challenges created by a fragmented landscape and encourage collaboration between local businesses, VisitEngland and other stakeholders like local and national government.

The ambition is that LVEPs will create a clear and accountable structure that provides a single localised point of call for the management and marketing of destinations.

Consistent management and marketing of a destination under the LVEP structure will support greater public and private sector collaboration, such as that on show today, maximising the opportunities to develop and implement initiatives that will grow local visitor economies.

VisitEngland is overseeing the transition of Destination Management Organisations into Local Visitor Economy Partnerships. I’m pleased to say VisitEngland have accredited 22 LVEPs to date across England and are supporting a pilot of the Destination Development Partnership in the North East of England.

But this transition is only part of the work we need to do to rebuild a more resilient and responsible industry with sustainable and accessible tourism as a priority.

Accessible and inclusive tourism is not only a responsibility but also a huge opportunity for our sector. We are committed to driving forward positive action in support of the UK Government’s ambition to be the most accessible tourism destination in Europe.

Latest available data shows that, in a usual year, expenditure on tourism trips in England by those with an impairment, or those travelling within a group where a member had an impairment, is estimated to be £15.3 billion – a hugely valuable customer base that have for too long been underserved.

We will hear more on this tomorrow from an expert in the field, Alvaro Silberstein, Co-Founder of Wheel the World.

Finally, as well as wishing you all the best of luck in your meetings during the next few days, I also want to ask that you keep our teams informed about the new business that is generated from this event .

Your feedback is incredibly useful and helps us to grow these events to be even more successful in the future."