The boss of Travelzoo Asia Pacific has slammed Visit Britain for its poor, inconsistent and non-aspirational marketing and warned the UK is losing ground to other European destinations.
Speaking on a visit to the UK, Jason Yap told Travel Weekly: "Visit Britain's campaign didn't really have a lot of legs. It came immediately after the Olympics but then it went again really suddenly.
"It stopped short of what was required, which is a consistent message. Other destinations have the same long-running campaign which is updated with different variations on the theme so it stays permanently in travellers' minds.
"Visit Britain's promoting of the UK has been poor. Apart from the education side, of places like Oxford, Cambridge and Harrow, people in China and other Asia Pacific destinations aren't really talking about the UK anymore."
Yap said the UK had now been overtaken in demand terms by Chinese travellers keen to experience a "cross cultural tour" combining France, Italy and Switzerland. Typically, the Chinese will buy a 10-day package featuring Paris, Milan and Lucerne, all destinations known for shopping, culture and prestige, according to Yap.
He said cultural and iconic attractions in London were no longer talked about by Asia Pacific travellers. Yap said the fact that getting a visa to travel to the UK was such a hassle also had a bearing. It's £68 for all destinations and then another £80 to get to the UK.
"Everybody else seems to be making visa applications easy but the UK hasn't done much at all," he said.
Yap urged Visit Britain to tap into the huge and growing popularity of driving holidays.
"Driving is a new lifestyle phenomenon in China and loads of Chinese are now doing fly-drive holidays in Australia but there's no reason why they couldn't do that in the UK as well to take in places like Cornwall and Stonehenge or Stratford-upon-Avon or the Lake District.
He said cruising was also growing fast as it's viewed as a very "trendy" holiday choice in Asia Pacific. Yap said the average cruise passenger's age was between 25-35 and said the region was spending billions building terminals and amenities for cruising.
For Travelzoo APAC, a key focus is promoting more short holidays of three/four days. "We want to educate people that it's ok to go away for a long weekend and not just for the official national holiday," said Yap.
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