The UK will fail to attract increased international visitors next year despite the appeal of hosting the Olympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
The admission came from VisitBritain which predicted 30.7 million international travellers to the UK in 2012 spending £17.6 billion – arrival figures which are set to match this year’s numbers.
The national tourism agency said it was working closely with the tourism industry to counteract any short-term impact that may be caused by hosting the Games and how it can help tackle the issue of “displacement” of overseas visitors.
Chief executive Sandie Dawe said: “VisitBritain is working hard to ensure that the Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations will generate positive PR for Britain, taking advantage of the global interest to increase tourism numbers in the years ahead and creating a lasting tourism legacy for the future.”
She added: “While these figures are in line with expected numbers in 2011, maintaining current visitor levels would be a good outcome in a year that is proving difficult to predict due to the current global economic climate and the impact this may have in many of our key markets.
“We are currently on track to see a record number of holiday visits to the UK this year, which suggests that our appeal as a destination remains strong; this level of interest is something we hope to build on as we head into 2012.”
But Dawe admitted: “The business traveller market remains some way down on record levels, and there is some risk this could decline further if there was an economic slowdown as companies usually put in place measures to curb travel costs.”
She said that 2012 gives “an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Britain in a way that we have never had before, allowing us to revitalise our appeal in mature markets and help to get Britain on the destination wish-list of first time visitors from growth markets such as Brazil, China, India and Russia”.
There will be a “fantastic range” of deals in place to entice visitors throughout 2012 as part of the ‘GREAT Britain – You’re Invited’ marketing programme being run with commercial partners.
The tourism body will look to tap into the strong holiday market “to ensure we can build on the gains we have made over the last couple of years,” said Dawe.
“This will be supported by our largest ever image campaign to help inspire potential visitors to come and enjoy all the great experiences that we have on offer here in the UK.”
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