VisitEngland, the national tourist board, in February held a seminar for representatives from airports across England from Manchester to Newquay, to discuss the important subject of welcoming visitors ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The first of its kind, the seminar was opened by the Minister for Tourism and Heritage, John Penrose MP. The event provided an opportunity for airport operators and supporting partners to share best practice in providing the best welcome possible at our airports around the country.
Since 2009, 15 airports across England have undertaken a ‘Welcome Audit and Improvement Plan’ process, which reviews the visitor’s journey throughout the airport from booking, to arrival and departure. Several airport representatives attending the seminar shared details of improvements made following the results from their Welcome Audits. Outcomes included greater collaboration with local travel operators to improve onward travel links, partnering with Destination Management Organisations to offer enhanced visitor information onsite and customer service training projects.
Chief Executive of VisitEngland, James Berresford, commented: “Our airports play a vital role in a visitor’s first impression of a destination, both from overseas and at home. This is particularly important during one of the most exciting years for tourism in England and the event today is a great example of the industry working together to make England’s airports the most welcoming in the world.”
Sian Pearce, Community Engagement Executive for London Luton Airport said, “The Welcome Airport project is an excellent initiative from VisitEngland. The seminar programme and sharing of best practice brought to life the varied ways airports can improve a passenger’s first impression of a destination. In partnership with VisitEngland we have now recently incorporated into our arrivals walkways iconic imagery from across our region, that aim to welcome passengers and create a sense of place”. The event was part of VisitEngland’s Welcome Airport project, which aims to ensure that visitors’ first and last impressions of England’s airports are as positive as possible by bringing together airport operators and their supporting partners, and highlighting best practice. Partners involved in the project include local tourism and transport bodies and national organisations such as the Airport Operators Association and People1st, the sector skills council for hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism.