In keeping with the theme of regeneration at this years British Travel Trade Fair many of the exhibitors there will be launching new products, services and ideas in a bid to raise the profile of the UK as a top destination once more and banish the ill effects of last year.
Perhaps the most striking change for the industry this year has been the merger of the two Irish Tourist Boards, a hugely significant event and one which is a shining example to many both inside and outside the travel industry.
Some of the other innovations, projects and launches to look forward to include:
Beamish/North of England Open Air Museum:Beamish this month [March] unveils the Steam Elephant, a full-size working replica of an early-1800s locomotive. Visitors can ride in period coaches pulled by “the Elephant”. June 2002 sees the opening of the Carriage House, a cast iron framed building housing a collection of horse-drawn vehicles, including a hearse and a fire engine.
British Tourist Authority: Unveiling further details of its “UK OK” overseas promotional campaign design to bolster Britain’s reputation as a safe, secure - and splendid - vacation destination.
Classic Scotland:A unique new programme of self-drive holidays to Scotland. Currently being trialled with eight UK companies, the programme will be rolled out to group operators next year - so now’s the chance for a sneak preview!
Edinburgh & Lothians Tourist Board:The Royal Jubilee takes pride of place with a new website - www.edinburgh.org/jubilee - and a new Royal Edinburgh Ticket, offered by vintage bus tour company MacTours, which features Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Royal Yacht Britannia and two days’ unlimited travel.
Elegant English Hotels:First-time BTTF exhibitor Elegant English Hotels is offering 20 per cent commission via its new online booking site for agents.
Falkirk Wheel:The Falkirk Wheel will be arguably the most significant new visitor attraction in Scotland this year as it’s the world’s first rotating boat lift linking the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals together to complete the Millennium Link - an £84 million project to regenerate the lowland canal network and importantly the communities and businesses along its length and across Central Scotland.
Glasgow Science Centre:GSC’s titanium-clad exhibits building, the Science Mall, opened only last month [February], contains hundreds of hands-on exhibits, while the 127-metre-high Glasgow Tower - the world’s only fully-rotating tower - makes its debut as Scotland’s tallest free-standing structure.
Herefordshire Tourism:Herefordshire Tourism is using BTTF as the launchpad for its “Festival of Walking” - 15 circular walks, to be unveiled on May 20, signalling the end of the countryside crisis.
National Trust:The £5 million visitor facilities, exhibition hall and Treasury open at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, during BTTF. A day earlier - on BTTF’s opening day - the NT opens the Workhouse, in Southwell, Notts, offering a unique insight into the lives of the poor in the 19th Century.
Northwest Tourist Board:The Imperial War Museum North (IWM North) opens in summer 2002, the Rochdale Canal opens for navigation for its full 32 miles in July, and there is the little matter of the Commonwealth Games, starting in Manchester on July 25.
Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon:Chocks away! Work on a landmark new building, “Milestones in Flight”, starts this month [March], trebling the size of the museum by December next year.
Southwest Tourism:The regional tourist board for the south west of England has launched a new website - www.visitsouthwestengland.com - specifically designed for overseas visitors. New features include the £21 million National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, which opens in June 2002, and the new Bath Spa complex, opening in October 2002. World of Beatrix Potter:2002 is the 100th anniversary of Peter Rabbit, and the World of Beatrix Potter is planning a host of centenary celebrations. Happy birthday, happy bunny!