Destinations

“A decision needs to be taken”: VisitBritain’s regional director talks Brexit and sustainability

Australians are not going to let Brexit get in the way when it comes to travelling Britain, according to the regional director of VisitBritain, Tricia Warwick.

Despite the short-haul market being held in a holding pattern, Warwick told Travel Weekly that long-haul markets have been largely unaffected.

“The impact of what Brexit will have for a UK tourist is minimal. The welcome’s still there at the border and if anything the exchange rate’s in your favour so the time to go is now,” she said during a recent visit to Australia. 

“Short-haul is only two or three per cent down in the last six months, so it’s not massive but a decision needs to be taken.”

Warwick said the VisitBritain office would like to be in a position where they’re able to talk post-Brexit.

“This period of uncertainty causes confusion, miscommunication, all sorts of things,” she said.

But Australians are not going to let something like Brexit get in the way.”

The UK government recently committed to a landmark deal promising 130,000 new hotel rooms, 10,000 apprenticeships for people building their careers in the tourism and hospitality sectors and the country’s first-ever tourism data hub.

“The Tourism Sector Deal has been a long time coming,” Warwick said.

It has taken the better part of three years to pull off and its got a tremendous amount of input and energy behind it.

“There will be greater connectivity in terms of rail and more hotel rooms in Britain,  predominantly outside London. We also want to make it easier for travellers to access information in smaller destinations within Britain, whether it be the Scottish Highlands, out in Cornwall somewhere or the Lake District.”

With that hurdle jumped, the tourism board is now turning its sights on an industry-wide issue: sustainability. Later this year, VisitBritain will be releasing a report on sustainable travel from a global perspective to the British government.

“Sustainability is now at the top of our strategic priorities and we’re looking at it not just in the short-term but also long-term across the board, incorporating things like overtourism, the use of plastics, all that kind of thing,” Warwick said.

For agents who are keen on knowing more about destinations within Britain, including some handy tips to pass onto your clients, VisitBritain has several tools for the trade, including Britagent, which is a training tool focused on upskilling agents on product across the UK and, more recently, the Discover England Fund which provides insights into exploring Britain beyond London.

It’s about engaging with people about what else there is to discover and not just the tried and tested Cotswold Lakes District stuff,” Warwick said.

“It’s all the other things you can do while you’re with us in the UK.”

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