Guest Comment by Mark Haynes, VisitBritain marketing manager Australia and NZ

Guest Comment by Mark Haynes, VisitBritain marketing manager Australia and NZ
By admin

The London 2012 Games have been a fantastic opportunity to showcase Britain to the world.

Millions of viewers round the world have watched us during the Games – not just the sport but historic sites and venues from Hampton Court Palace to the Olympic Stadium, the creativity and national spirit of the opening and closing ceremonies, the Torch Relay which showed off the countryside around Britain and the Cultural Festival which over 12 million people across the UK attended.

London – and all the host cities and venues – has been a city of celebrations and parties.

But the tourism legacy is not a given and needs to be worked for. The main tourism benefit associated with hosting the games was always recognised to have the potential to capitalise on the unprecedented exposure that the UK is receiving in overseas markets.

Since 2005 we have been planning to use this massive exposure to inspire and encourage more people from overseas to holiday in the UK.

We have worked with international broadcasters, including those here in Australia, to secure additional coverage of Britain, generating programs on countryside, heritage, food, arts and the music scene. We (provisionally) estimate that we will have a value of more than £1.6 billion ($2.5 billion) for the first six months of this year.

We have always known that the tourism benefits of hosting the Olympics are to be generated in the years after the Games. We are in the midst of running our biggest marketing campaign ever. In an 18 month period from September 2011 to March 2013 VisitBritain will have invested around £35 million in our 21 priority markets around the world. The four-year GREAT marketing campaign aims to influence 4.6 million people to choose to visit Britain. This will bring £2.3 billion to the economy.

Before the Games had started, we launched our GREAT campaign in 14 international cities (including Sydney and Melbourne) in nine countries crucial for sending us overseas visitors. The campaign was seen by more than 90 million people and our research indicates it has made people more inclined to come to Britain.

We aim to build on the positive images of the Games seen around the world. On the day the (Paralympics) Games end we will launch a major campaign around the world with airlines, hotel companies and tour operators. The campaign will include offers and deals to make sure that, having seen the best of Games-time Britain on their screens, people book their trip.

And the showcasing of Britain will continue with a full calendar of international sporting events, from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles in 2014, to the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and the World Athletics Championships in the new Olympic Stadium in 2017.

Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain, said: “Every year overseas visitors contribute £18 billion to the British economy – twice the cost of staging the Games – and we want to make sure that we continue to compete internationally. A gold medal performance will mean growth and jobs across all of Britain in the years ahead.”

Our campaign is for four years, and encouraging more visitors to experience more regions around Britain is our long term goal.

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