Ahead of the British Travel Trade Fair and the chairman of VisitBritain says that the UK tourism industry deserves more attention from both the government and the public.
The two-day event is being hosted in the midland city of Birmingham on Wedneday. Some 400 exhibitors are expected to take part, showcasing their products and services to an anticipated 2,500 visitors.
The event will also be attended by 215 international buyers from 18 countries.
Currently the British visitor economy—which includes tourism and business travel—is worth 74 billion pounds sterling ($129 billion) to Britain every year and employs 2.1 million workers, it also accounts for 4.5 percent of the gross domestic product.
“We already rank pretty highly as a world destination. Last year almost 30 million people visited the UK—a new record. Tourists spend more on ‘buying’ Britain as a destination then they spend on purchasing crude oil, food or drinks from us,” Lord Marshall chairman of VisitBritain and the former chairman of British Airways told the Daily Mail newspaper.
“The trouble is, we could be doing so much better. We actually suffer from a massive tourism ‘deficit’ of more than £17bn ($30 bn). For every £1 we earn from overseas visitors, British residents spend more than £2.32 overseas.”
In a global destination ranking Britain is currently ranked as the sixth most-visited destination in the world, after France, Spain, U.S., China and Italy.
The World Tourism Organisation estimates that Britain’s tourism growth rate is ten percent, second only to China which is rising by 13 percent.
VisitBritain has a goal of increasing the visitor economy to £100 billion by 2010. Hosting the 2012 Olympics has now given this goal a potential boost.
Lord Marshall highlighted the fact the quality of Britain’s tourism facilities needs to be improved.
“This is something we are working hard on by insisting on grading all hotels and guesthouses from next year,” he explained. “And training is important - since people need to learn how to excel at looking after guests.”
Now celebrating its 21st anniversary, BTTF, staged by World Travel Market organisers Reed Travel Exhibitions, takes place at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham on March 1st and 2nd.
For more information checkout: www.britishtraveltradefair.com