VisitBritain has called upon UK business to invite friends, relatives and past customers from around the world to visit Britain in 2012, as part of the latest phase of the national tourism agency's ‘GREAT Britain - You're Invited' marketing programme.
Under the slogan "Share Your GREAT Britain", businesses, the British public and local communities across the country are being encouraged to make use of a free online toolkit that will allow users to personalise their own greeting and enable them to invite their global network to the UK for their next holiday.
The idea is that it will enable businesses to tailor adverts and newsletter templates in their own communications, extending the reach of the invitation and inspiring more regional travel across the UK.
Launching the campaign, Tourism Minister John Penrose said: "This is an innovative and personal way of encouraging more visitors to the UK and comes at a time when we want to ensure Britain is top of everyone's holiday wish list.
"From the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, to the Diamond Jubilee, we want as many people as possible to come and join in the celebrations, so an open invitation from UK households to friends and family abroad is an ideal way of increasing visitor numbers and making 2012 a truly memorable year for tourism."
Chief executive of VisitBritain, Sandie Dawe, added: "This is an important new phase of our £100m four-year marketing programme to gain greater international exposure and increase the number of visitors to Britain. Working in partnership with the industry we aim to reinvigorate our appeal in core markets such as the US and increase business in the important growth markets such as the BRIC countries (Brazil, India and China). Our goal is to deliver four million visitors who will spend an additional £2b.
"In June 2011, we launched a series of films in which British celebrities extended a personal invitation to Britain. This was followed by deals and offers from the travel industry. Now, we believe this invitation from the British public will inspire a greater number of visitors to choose Britain for their next holiday. 2012 is the year to be in Britain - with a raft of new festivals, exhibitions and events marking the Diamond Jubilee and the hosting of the Olympic Games."
The visiting friends and relations market is worth £3.6b, according to VisitBritiain.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said: "Visiting friends and relations is a key sector of UK tourism and one that is much influenced by all of us who live in Britain. This is a very imaginative promotion which will benefit the hospitality industry both in 2012 and in the years after when, hopefully, our visitors will return to explore much more of what Britain has to offer."
Brigid Simmonds, chairman of the Tourism Alliance, said: "This year will be an unforgettable showcase for Great British hospitality - and a unique chance to boost British business which we must all grasp. The eyes of the world will be on the UK and we must all play our part to encourage visitors. From pubs to historic houses, from holiday parks to hotels and attractions, we are all part of what makes the UK great. All private hospitality and leisure businesses can join VisitBritain in backing "GREAT Britain - You're Invited". The tourism industry is ready to play its part."
Bernard Donoghue, director at the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), added: "The most trusted and most acted-upon invitations and recommendations are from family and friends. This initiative is a great way for all of us - individuals, families, businesses and much-loved attractions - to reach out and invite the world to come and visit us in this very special year."
By Neil Gerrard
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