UKinbound has given a lukewarm reception to David Cameron's GREAT marketing campaign, saying that it falls far short of the efforts needed to encourage inbound tourism into the UK.
The Prime Minister launched a new drive, two days ago, to promote Britain abroad in order to capitalise on the economic potential of London 2012 and the Queen's Diamond jubilee next year.
Central to the GREAT campaign - intended to generate £1b in Olympic business boost and attract four million extra visitors to the UK - is a focus on everything the UK has to offer as one of the best places to visit, study, work and do business. Posters publicising the campaign include images of tycoon Richard Branson, animated characters Wallace and Gromit, and King Henry VIII.
However, Mary Rance, chief executive for UKinbound - the trade associaition representing the UK's inbound tourism industry - said that while the Government has come up with a great slogan, there are no tangible measures to offset the negative perceptions potential tourists have of the UK. "One month after the riots, foreign markets still have concerns and it is imperative to restore faith in the UK as a safe and secure destination and even more importantly, to ease the barriers to travel that incoming tourists still face," she said.
In a recent survey of UKinbound members, undertaken by Qa Research, almost 50% reported that the riots had an immediate impact within the first few days of the riots occurring, with cancellations of confirmed bookings from clients overseas, particularly from markets in the Middle East, China and Germany. The student market was more concerned than other parties.
But, the majority of members surveyed feel that the riots will have minimal impact on their business in the long term, provided there is not a reoccurrence. Over two-thirds of those surveyed feel that the Olympics will have a more detrimental effect on their businesses over the next 12 months.
"Our industry would rather see politicians take actions to address the barriers tourists face when trying to travel to the UK and come up with workable solutions, rather than spend so much time and effort papering over the cracks with slogans and catchphrases," said Rance, who highlighted the need for the Government to address the issues of
punishing airport departure taxes, crippling rates of VAT on accommodation and other services, and cumbersome visa application processes in key emerging markets.
By Janet Harmer
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