It is hosting 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 during the Games, in partnership with the West Midlands Growth Company.
The trade visits, which range from five-to-eight days, get underway from 25 July. As well as attending sporting events at the Games, the international buyers are visiting destinations and visitor attractions across the West Midlands, from a river cruise exploring Shakespeare’s Stratford-Upon-Avon, a culinary course in the heart of Birmingham’s Balti Triangle to a trip back in time at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley.
The international buyers are also meeting to do business with British travel trade suppliers and destinations during the Games as part of a dedicated ‘Tourism Day’ on 5 August. The trade showcase, hosted by VisitBritain in partnership with the West Midlands Growth Company, is part of the programme of events at UK House, The Commonwealth Business Hub, led by the Department for International Trade. Britain’s ability to host world-class sporting events will be in the global spotlight during the Games and the Tourism Day will see leading industry stakeholders come together to highlight the importance of major events to the visitor economy, harnessing opportunities to drive tourism across the nations and regions.
Commonwealth Games Minister Nigel Huddleston said:
"The Commonwealth Games are an excellent opportunity to showcase Birmingham and the Midlands to the world.
"Our activity working with international buyers and tourism companies is a crucial part of our legacy plans to ensure the benefits of the Games are felt in the region for many years to come."
VisitBritain CEO Patricia Yates said:
“We are delighted to be hosting international travel buyers and media to destinations across the West Midlands during the Games, showing that Britain is packed full of fresh and exciting experiences to come and enjoy right now and that our industry is ready to welcome back visitors and provide a first-class experience.
“Working with the international trade, building product knowledge and ensuring they are ready to sell Britain, is crucial to driving bookings and spending. We also want to broaden travel itineraries, encouraging visitors to stay longer, explore further and boost visits across the shoulder seasons, supporting local businesses and economies.
“We know there is pent-up demand for travel and major sporting events are a proven tourism draw. The Games, set to be watched by a global audience of hundreds of millions, will also show our hospitality and warm welcome to the world as well as Britain’s ability to host events of the highest calibre.”
West Midlands Growth Company Chief Executive Neil Rami said:
“There is surely no better way to truly get to know a destination than by experiencing it in person. Working with our VisitBritain colleagues in the UK and across the Commonwealth, we have created several exciting and varied multi-day West Midlands itineraries for our international trade and media visitors, which show off the very best of the region’s cultural, culinary, accommodation and sporting highlights.
“Following a challenging period for our tourism businesses, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to present the West Midlands to a huge worldwide audience.
“Across the Games fortnight, we look forward to creating amazing memories for our groups of overseas guests, who we hope will then encourage many more new international visitors to come and find out what makes this region, its venues and its communities so special.”
The trade visits are part of VisitBritain’s activity in partnership with the West Midlands Growth Company through the Business and Tourism Programme (BATP). VisitBritain is running a three-year programme through the BATP in its major Commonwealth inbound tourism markets Australia, Canada and India to boost awareness of the West Midlands’ tourism offer.
VisitBritain’s activity across Australia, Canada and India has ranged from content partnerships with media, training in-country travel trade and hosting trade and press trips to the West Midlands, to harnessing countdown milestones and showcase events including The Queen’s Baton Relay visits to drive bookings to Britain.
Looking at wider promotion, VisitBritain has been running content internationally including on its dedicated Games’ website: www.visitbritain.com/birmingham2022 - inspiring visitors with activities and itineraries. Its ‘Welcome to Another Side of Britain’ GREAT marketing campaign is also harnessing the Games to drive visits, alongside this year’s other landmark events including the ongoing celebrations for HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the ‘Unboxed’ creative events across the UK.
VisitBritain’s research shows the positive impact that major sporting events 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 its welcome. Britain is 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.
Visitors who come to the UK to watch sport also stay longer and spend more, spending an average of £1000 compared to the all market average of £691 and staying 11 nights versus an all market average of eight. About 2.2 million visits to the UK annually include ‘going to live sports events’ with those visitors spending £2.3 billion in total during their stay.
Inbound tourism is the UK’s third largest service export, worth more than £28 billion to the economy in 2019.
Please see below some quotes from international travel trade and tour operators who will be taking part in the educational visits to the West Midlands during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games:
- Craig Canvin, Senior Vice President - Goway Travel, said: “Britain continues to be a premiere destination for Canadian consumers. Canadians enjoy the arts and culture, food and drink, history and heritage – as well as major sporting events. I am excited to be attending the upcoming Commonwealth Games and the opportunity to explore the products and experiences in Birmingham and the West Midlands.”
- Tim Holden, Business Leader - Product Design & Delivery, Tourism Board Partnerships - Flight Centre Travel Group: “Britain has always been a key market for Australia, us Aussies just can't get enough. Even after more than two years of restricted travel, the UK is already back as our number one best-selling international destination. So many of us travel throughout Britain to visit friends and relatives that the UK has always been a second home for our market, a launch pad for European adventures and a leading bucket-list tourism destination in its own right. Personally, I can't wait to get back and explore the West Midlands. I'm beyond excited to visit the area, attend the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and bring back the full experience to my team.”
- Shishir Khambete, Vice President - Leisure Travel Outbound, Thomas Cook (India) Limited said: "The UK continues to be a favourite for our Indian consumers across segments – be it leisure, business, MICE and business leisure. Sporting events are playing a key role in tourism’s revival and growth and I am excited about the upcoming Commonwealth Games visit hosted by VisitBritain, and also to exploring new locales and experiences towards refreshing our product portfolio."
- Khushnooma Dastur Das, General Manager - FCM Travel said: “Already standing tall as the most inspirational and aspirational destination that offers a plethora of exciting sights and sounds for any visitor, Britain's treasure trove of unique products creates memories to be cherished forever. I am most eager to experience Britain's treasure trove this time with a visit to Birmingham, the West Midlands region and a mega event like the Commonwealth Games.”
Notes to editors:
- The Commonwealth countries are some of the UK’s largest and most valuable inbound tourism markets. Australia is a billion-pound tourism market for the UK, its fifth most valuable. India is a significant growth market, its value growing 63% in the five years to 2019 to a record £753 million in visitor spending. Canadian visitors to the UK spent a record £734 million in 2019.
- For more information about the Tourism Day at UK House on Friday 5 August please see https://www.events.great.gov.uk/website/7419/overviewandschedule/
- It is estimated that about one billion people globally will watch the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.
- VisitBritain is forecasting a gradual pickup in tourism to the UK throughout 2022. Its latest inbound tourism forecast estimates 21.1 million visits overall to the UK this year, (52% of the 2019 level – when there were 40.1 million visits) and overseas visitor spending of £16.9 billion (59% of 2019 – when spending was £28.4 billion). The full forecast is available here.
- VisitBritain promotes the UK internationally as a visitor destination as part of the UK Government’s global GREAT campaign.
- The Business and Tourism Programme (BATP) aims to leverage the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to embed positive perceptions of the West Midlands into the international imagination, driving long-term economic benefits across the region, fostering civic pride. Focusing on tourism, trade and investment, the three-year programme will catalyse the West Midlands’ growth strategy, cementing the region, and wider UK, as a globally sought-after location to visit, invest and live in. Its work will target nations and territories across the Commonwealth.