With new research revealing that two-thirds of Russians who saw the Olympic Games on their screens now want to visit the UK for their next holiday, a VisitBritain-led delegation of tourism businesses will be in Moscow and St Petersburg this week to showcase Britain and help secure a 75 per cent increase in Russian visitors by 2020.
The Destination Britain trade mission will see a record 50 British organisations taking part, the largest ever group of tourism businesses to visit what is one of the key BRIC nations, and an indication of the great potential of the Russian market.
Participating in business appointments and seminars, the delegation includes national and regional tourism boards, city and tourist attraction promotion organisations, travel agencies, hotel groups and specialist tour operators.
Over 210,000 Russians visited Britain in 2011, spending an average £1,450 per visit – nearly triple the average global spend.
Arrivals in the first nine months of 2012 were also up three per cent.
A recent Nations Brand Index (NBI) survey of the top 50 nations in the world found that Russians have an increasingly positive perception of the UK, especially when it comes to British heritage and culture.
The post-London 2012 Games research found that Russia was largely positive towards Britain, ranking Britain within the top five for culture and tourism.
This year will see an abundance of opportunities to entice more Russian visitors to Britain, sustaining the buzz created by the showpiece year that was 2012.
Events such as the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the opening of The Shard, the Year of Natural Scotland and the arrival of a royal baby all expected to be a major draw.
Over 40 works from the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg will also travel to Britain for a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition at the historic Houghton Hall in Norfolk.
Patricia Yates, director at strategy & communications at VisitBritain said: “In 2011 we saw a promising 24% increase in the number of Russian visitors.
“That growth has continued into 2012, with provisional data showing a three per cent rise in arrivals up to September.
“It’s our ambition to welcome 370,000 Russian visitors a year by 2020.
“This mission will help foster relations with key trade who can help us to achieve that goal, putting British businesses in front of decision makers and generating growth from what is a traditionally high spending market.
“The massive exposure Britain has enjoyed in 2012 has helped put us front of mind as a destination, and we are encouraged by the recent NBI survey which has seen us improve our standing among Russians, with two-thirds of those surveyed indicating that the London 2012 Games had increased their interest in visiting Britain for a holiday.”