Memorandum submitted by the British Tourist
1.1 Tourism is one of the largest and most
important industries in Britain. It is worth more than £64
billion per year, employs c 1.8 million people7 per cent
of the UK's workforceand contributes 4 per cent of the
1.2 The British Tourist Authority (BTA),
together with the English, Scottish and Welsh Tourist Boards (the
national boards) were created in 1969 by the Development of Tourism
Act. BTA was charged with encouraging people living overseas to
visit Great Britain whilst the national boards were given responsibility
for promoting their respective countries domestically within Britain.
1.3 Originally, the national tourist boards
were not given powers to market their countries overseas, but
this was changed for Scotland in 1984, and for Wales in 1992.
The English Tourist Board, now trading as the English Tourism
Council, has never been granted them.
1.4 BTA's role is to build the value of
tourism to Britain, generating additional tourism revenue throughout
Britain, throughout the year. BTA operates in 27 overseas markets
and works in partnership with the national tourism boards for
England, Wales, Scotland and, by special agreement, Northern Ireland,
to promote an attractive image of Britain. BTA provides impartial
tourism information and gathers essential market intelligence
for the UK tourism industry.
2. WHAT IMPACT
Before the outbreak of FMD in Britain, spending
by overseas visitors was expected to rise in 2001 by around 2
per cent, to an estimated £13 billion. Based on intelligence
supplied by its overseas offices and figures being circulated
by the travel trade and the national and regional tourist boards,
the British Tourist Authority estimates that inbound tourism for
2001 will now be between 10-20 per cent short of its original
forecasts. In financial terms this means a likely drop in revenue
of between £1.5-£2.5 billion.
The outbreak is having a severe impact on inbound
tourism, and not just in contaminated or restricted areas. Estimates
of potential losses are at least £120 million per week throughout
Britain, with at least £100 million per week lost just in
England. This is likely to have increased significantly over the
Easter period. Of course, the longer-term damage to the industry
and the figure of overall losses is difficult to quantify and
will be dependent on the extent and duration of the outbreak.
International media coverage has been extensive,
and has been mixed in terms of accuracy. Consequently, many markets
are misinformed about foot and mouth, eg should we bring our own
food? Is there any food in the restaurants? etc. In the last week,
there have been numerous positive stories about the re-opening
of tourist attractions and footpaths around the UK, which all
contributes to the message that Britain is "open for business".
However, feedback from BTA's overseas offices,
shows that the restrictions placed on access to some areas of
Britain is only one of the concerns that are keeping visitors
away; there are other equally strong issueswhether real
or perceivedabout health and safety in the UK.
BTA has identified 10 markets (Australia, Belgium,
Canada, France, Germany, the Irish Republic, the Netherlands,
New Zealand, Switzerland and the USA), where the impact of FMD
has been most severe and from which levels of visitors to Britain
are likely to be heavily reduced. It is clear in these markets
that we have extensive work to do in the short term in providing
reassurance and factual information on foot and mouth disease
and, in the longer term, in rebuilding Britain's image as a tourist
Several of our officesespecially those
in the near European markets and in the USreport a high
number of enquiries from concerned travellers, while trade partners
report cancellations into the autumn. The business tourism sector
is more resilient than the leisure sector, although conference/delegate
numbers are down.
The longer the crisis continues, the greater
the long-term damage is likely to be to Britain's image as a tourism
destination (it took five years for the US market to recover fully
from the Gulf War).
3. BTA'S POSITION
BTA believes that tourism has a responsibility
to support farmers and help eradicate foot and mouth disease,
but its primary concern is to safeguard the long-term interests
of the tourism industry, especially the small and medium sized
businesses who are most affected by the outbreak and are characteristic
of rural tourism.
BTA wants to ensure that visitors' travel plans
are only changed where absolutely necessary. It also wants to
minimise the long-term damage to Britain's image as a tourism
destination, so that full recovery is as speedy as possible.
4. WHAT HAS
BTA DONE ALREADY
BTA convened an internal Immediate Action Group
on 2 March, which has met daily since then.
BTA has set up a foot and mouth steering group
and an implementation group to guide BTA activities throughout
the outbreak. These two groups will finalise the recovery plan
and co-ordinate communication with a number of audiences, both
here and overseas eg UK and overseas trade, consumers, Government,
staff and media. Foot and mouth matters will take priority over
other work commitments.
BTA has produced a Recovery Marketing Plan for
the industry covering action to address the affects of FMD in
the immediate, medium and long-term. The total plan is estimated
to cost in excess of £20 million, for which additional government
funding will be required. To date, BTA has received commitment
from the Government for £2.2 million of additional funding
towards its planned recovery activity. This money, combined with
monies held over from BTA's 2000-01 grant-in-aid, will only be
sufficient to address the immediate situation, such as our planned
global PR activity over the next few months. We have, of course,
welcomed this financial contribution to handling, rebutting and
reversing the international media portrayal of Britain; but we
have made it clear to Government that we see this £2.2 million
as only being the first tranche of further substantial investment.
The Committee should note that it is now BTA's
firm conviction that the second tranche of money, totalling £8
million, is now required to undertake tactical advertising and
further PR activity.
BTA has been concentrating on providing accurate
information to potential visitors and was requested by the Prime
Minister to produce a new website to promote open attractions
and events in Britain. We completed this formidable task in one
weekend. The new websitewww.open.visitbritain.comfeatures
a searchable database of attractions and events, and shows that
80 per cent of attractions are open as normal. Links to the new
website can be found from all www.visitbritain.com gateway and
campaign sites, and it also features a "visitor's charter"
on visiting the countryside.
BTA has published a "Visitors' Charter"
on its websitewww.visitbritain.comwhich is being
used as BTA's primary news/PR tool. As well as advice on travelling
to and around Britain, visitors can get up-to-date information
on attractions, events and activities. There are already 1,100
attraction details on the site and this will increase as more
information comes through from the trade.
Regular reports from our overseas offices are
compiled to provide government and the industry with an indication
of how the FMD outbreak in Britain is being perceived overseas,
and an estimation of the likely impact on visitor numbers in both
the short and medium term. A daily briefing is sent to the Rt
Hon Chris Smith MP, and a weekly parliamentary briefing is sent
to 80 key MPs, MSPs and AMs. Detailed briefings have also been
sent to The Royal Household and relevant Cabinet members in the
UK, Welsh and Scottish governments.
At the same time, BTA is providing daily bulletins
to our overseas offices to keep them abreast of developments and
share best practice in responding to the crisis.
In addition to briefing the trade press, BTA
has written to 10,000 trade contacts on its database to update
them of BTA's activities in response to FMD and advise them on
their own response.
Last week, BTA and FCO Minister Brian Wilson
MP briefed the nine Ambassadors to the UK from Britain's most
affected overseas markets to ensure that consistent messages are
being delivered by overseas governments to their own countries.
BTA overseas call and visitor centres continue
to deal with thousands of enquiries each day. All offices have
now held briefings for both the media and the travel trade to
set the facts straight and provide reassurance about travelling
to and within Britain. The New York call centre is currently handling
c 700 enquiries a day about foot and mouth and travelling to Britain.
Regular reports from our overseas offices have
been compiled to provide government and the industry with an indication
of how the FMD outbreak in Britain is being perceived overseas,
and the likely impact on visitor numbers in both the short and
Briefings for both the media and the travel
trade have been held in many of the markets most affected by the
outbreak, designed to set the facts straight and provide reassurance
about travelling to and within Britain.
BTA is also commissioning research into consumer
perceptions in its 10 most affected markets, to benchmark reaction
to FMD and establish the propensity to travel to Britain.
BTA has appointed a global PR agency, GCI, to
work in all our 27 markets to minimise the negative perceptions
of Britain in the short term and, in the longer term, help rebuild
An analysis of how foot and mouth has been covered
in overseas media is attached as an appendix to this submission.
5. WORLD TRAVEL
17-20 APRIL 2001
Last week, BTA brought over a group of 40 travel
industry leaders from around the world to see for themselves the
impact of FMD. The World Travel Leaders' Summit secured third
party endorsement that, in spite of FMD, Britain remains an attractive
and safe destination for overseas visitors. Summit participants
have returned to their respective countries ready and equipped
to encourage the travel trade to sell Britain with confidence
to overseas audiences.
The presidents of national travel writers associations
and travel agents from our nine key overseas markets visited Inverness,
Loch Ness, Cawdor Castle, Edinburgh Castle, the Lake District,
Portmeirion, Snowdonia, Devon and London. On arrival at Heathrow
(Tuesday 17) they were met by Tourism Minister Janet Anderson
MP, who saw the two groups off as they departed to various parts
of the UK.
In Edinburgh, one group comprising guests from
Long Haul markets (USA, Japan and Canada) were hosted to dinner
by the Secretary of State for Scotland and the First Minister
on board the Royal Yacht Britannia (Wednesday 18). In Portmeirion,
the other group from European markets, were hosted at dinner by
the Deputy First Minister of Wales, and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State of the Wales Office.
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh received the entire
delegation at Windsor Castle on Friday 20. This was followed by
lunch with the Prime Minister at Chequers and a reception at No.
10 Downing Street, hosted by Mrs Blair and the Rt Hon Chris Smith
The VIP tour generated enormous domestic and
overseas media coverage, and demonstrated to world travel leaders
and writers that actually very little of the events, attractions
and experiences which an overseas visitor might seek have been
affected by foot and mouth. Crucially, having these opinion formers
experience Britain at first hand, has ensured that they are credible,
enthusiastic and knowledgeable third-party advocates for British
English and UK Ministers: Between 21-23 March,
BTA Chief Executive, Jeff Hamblin, accompanied Janet Anderson,
Minister for Tourism, on a reassurance and media visit to New
York to specifically address and counter USA media coverage of
foot and mouth. This resulted in huge media coverage throughout
Kate Hoey MP, Minister for Sport, attended a
BTA travel trade media breakfast seminar on tourism and foot and
mouth in Valencia, Spain on Tuesday 17 April.
The Rt Hon Chris Smith MP, Secretary of State
for Culture, Media and Sport, will be visiting Toronto, Canada
on 25 and 26 April on a BTA facilitated promotional visit.
George Foulkes MP, Minister of State, Scotland
Office, will be giving a press conference on tourism and foot
and mouth issues at the BTA office in Brussels on Tuesday 24 April.
Scottish Executive Ministers: Bernard Donoghue,
BTA's Head of Government Affairs, accompanied Henry McLeish MSP,
First Minister of Scotland, and Alasdair Morrison MSP, Tourism
Minister in the Scottish Executive, on a media visit to New York
during the week beginning 2 April. The visit coincided with National
Tartan Week in the USA and the Ministers undertook a number of
media activities arranged by BTA.
Welsh Assembly Ministers: On Monday 2 April,
Mike German AM, Deputy First Minister of Wales, visited BTA offices
in Amsterdam and Frankfurt to gauge the perceptions of Britain
and Wales from the travel trade in the Netherlands and Germany.
7. TOURISM INDUSTRY
THE UK GOVERNMENT'S
BTA, the English Tourism Council and the British
Hospitality Association have been appointed to the UK Government's
Rural Economy Task Force. Bernard Donoghue, BTA's Head of Government
and Corporate Affairs, sits on the taskforce, which is chaired
by Environment Minister Rt Hon Michael Meacher MP.
BTA has held several meetings with government
ministers and officials, including the Prime Minister, to discuss
the inbound tourism perspective and the industry's response and
8. WHAT WILL
BTA DO NEXT
The BTA recovery plan will be integrated with
the recovery plans being prepared at a local level by the national
and regional/area tourist boards of Scotland, Wales, Northern
Ireland and England on behalf of their respective ministers and
BTA's immediate priority is to disseminate accurate
information via overseas offices and contacts about what it is
and isn't possible to do or see in Britain, and to correct the
misconceptions that exist about foot and mouth. We are sending
out accurate information to our overseas offices for use as each
market sees fit. Channels for this will include BTA's website,
www.visitbritain.com, www.openbritain.gov.uk, information bulletins
and media newsletters overseas and regular communications with
staff on information to convey to all their audiences. (This activity
is costed at approximately £4.3 million.)
As well as highlighting the fact that there
are still things you can see and do in Britain, BTA will be:
promoting city-based cultural activities
that are unaffected at present (BTA has a UK City Culture campaign);
issuing recommended itineraries for
publicising events (eg pop concerts,
sporting events unaffected);
developing short break ideas; and
working with the travel trade to
develop special offers.
The mid-crisis activity will include market
research into overseas perceptions of Britain, PR and tactical
advertising campaigns, and a consumer e-mail campaign to 10 million
people worldwide who are on BTA's database. (This activity is
costed at approximately £8 million).
The longer-term activity will include image
advertising campaigns, on-territory presentations to trade and
consumers and travel trade and press familiarisation visitsprobably
including high profile VIP "ambassadors". BTA campaigns
will give prominence to rural Britain, especially those areas
most affected by the current crisis. (This activity is costed
at approximately £10 million.)
9. WHAT ADVICE
IS BTA GIVING
Foot and mouth disease does not present any
threat to humans or to food supplies.
There is plenty to see and do in Britain that
is not affected by the foot and mouth outbreakmuch of our
countryside is unaffected, as are all our towns and cities.
There are no restrictions on people leaving
There is no reason to cancel or postpone your
visit unless you were planning to specifically visit one of the
contaminated or restricted areas.
BTA is ensuring that the latest information
on access to the countryside produced by MAFF, DETR, The NI Assembly,
The National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Executiveall
of which is somewhat different in detail and emphasisis
promoted through BTA's call centres and information distribution
BTA is also advising visitors of the three rules
the Government has issued regarding visiting the countryside,
obey all "keep out" and
"road closed" signs;
do not go near livestock;
don't go on farmland or open country
unless you are sure the land isn't used by livestock.
It should be noted that separate advice to the
public on access to the countryside has been issued by the Scottish
Executive ("The Comeback Code"), the National Assembly
for Wales and MAFF and DETR. Whilst all the codes conform to uniform
to the official UK Chief Veterinary Officer's advice, each take
account of the regional and local incidence of the outbreak.
10. BTA'S ROLE
The BTA's role is to promote Britain abroad
in order to raise the value of overseas visitors' spending to
the UK. Latest figures show that in 2000 there were 25.3 million
visitors to the UK who spent £12.8 billion. BTA operates
in 27 key markets overseas, which collectively generate almost
90 per cent of all visitors to Britain.
The top five overseas markets for the UK in
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