VisitBritain, Britain’s tourism agency, is to launch the biggest marketing campaign in its history to attract visitors to the UK, with an extra £27m worth of funding promised for the next four years. The extra cash will fund an “image campaign” in major cities abroad, including on the New York subway, where 72% of its audience are predicted to see the campaign. Cinema ads will run in India and Paris, while more than 15m potential visitors will be targeted in China through a combination of magazine, subway and station ads, plus on-line marketing. However, it’s understood that not all the 21 overseas markets where VisitBritain operates will run the campaign. The aim is to attract an extra 4.6m visitors to Britain, spending an additional £2.3bn and supporting the creation of about 60,000 new jobs. The funding is in addition to the existing £100m match-funded marketing campaign being run by VisitBritain. It is part of the “GREAT” campaign launched by David Cameron in September to show that Britain is a great place to visit, live and invest in. Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain, said: “This additional funding means we will be able to run the largest tourism marketing campaign in our history. We will be taking the GREAT brand into some of the most dynamic, fastest growing and economically important cities across the world to encourage a greater number of people to come and experience the very best of what Britain has to offer. “Alongside the inspirational images that will inspire the world to put Britain on its destination wish list, tactical advertising with our industry partners will offer great deals to encourage people to visit now. This GREAT campaign aims to reinvigorate our appeal in mature markets such as the USA where we have seen decline in recent years, and it will help raise our profile in the vital emerging markets, securing growth for the future. “Our targets are ambitious, but inbound tourism is already Britain’s third-largest earner of foreign exchange and we know more can be done. VisitBritain’s research indicates tourism has the potential to be one of the five fastest growing sectors of the UK in the years ahead, creating new jobs and helping sustain economic growth. Today’s significant announcement will go a long way to helping us achieve that aim.” The news follows down-beat research that suggests London will suffer a 95% leisure tourism slump during the 2012 Olympic Games. In a survey conducted amongst 38 of its members, the European Tour Operators Association discovered that a major slump in leisure tourism bookings is underway. The downturn looks like being extremely severe in July and August, where operators are currently seeing a 60% shortfall in bookings, becoming acute during the period of the Olympics where bookings are running at 95% below where they would normally be. Bookings for the rest of the year are running at 20% below this time last year.

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