Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport First Special Report


Appendix 4 - Reply from VisitBritain

VisitBritain welcomes the publication of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report into Maritime Heritage and Historic Ships (HC 296) published in March 2005.

Through their report, Members of the Committee have played their part in raising the profile of the maritime sector both within and without Parliament. The report has helped to underline the importance of the maritime sector on a number of fronts - not least as a driver for regeneration, and the importance of engaging and broadening the visitor audience in the upkeep of historic ships.

VisitBritain particularly welcomes the recognition by Committee Members of the importance of SeaBritain 2005 (the spectacular year-long festival of events led by VisitBritain and the National Maritime Museum that celebrate all aspects of Britain's maritime heritage) and Waterside England, VisitBritain's main marketing campaign to encourage UK residents to explore our sea, coastline, estuaries and inland waterways.

In paragraph 39 the Committee recommends that 'VisitBritain and regional tourist boards use 2005 as a platform to build on their involvement with historic ships and ensure that the sector continues to receive the recognition it deserves'. Through SeaBritain 2005 and Waterside England, VisitBritain has worked hard with our tourism partners throughout the nations and regions of Britain, and also with attractions and organisations across the maritime sector to promote Britain's maritime heritage. Since the publication of the report in March 2005, much activity has taken place that should be brought to the Committee's attention.

There has been considerable success in developing SeaBritain 2005. In early June, key decision-makers and representatives attended a major reception at the Britain and London Visitor Centre at 1 Regent Street to thank SeaBritain 2005 and underline the importance of our maritime heritage. A few weeks later the International Fleet Review in the Solent dominated global media coverage as a dramatic and historic reminder of the importance of the sea in our lives - vessels drawn from 36 different navies joined romantic tall ships, the latest powerful warships and aircraft and helicopters in thrilling flypasts to lead on news channels around the world.

Forthcoming highlights include:

  • the astonishing Tall Ships Race in Newcastle Gateshead in late July that will involve over 120 tall ships;
  • the Nelson and Napoleon exhibition at the National Maritime Museum which opens today (7th July);
  • the New Trafalgar Dispatch being held throughout the South of England in August and September;
  • the Royal Navy's Trafalgar 200 autumn events; and
  • maritime festivals in Bristol, Falmouth and Chatham.

More and smaller events are being put together across the country, and not just in coastal communities - there are over 1,000 events and 350 maritime attractions to be found on the online searchable database at www.seabritain2005.com. There have been over 3 million page requests at the website. All these events, together with innovative projects such as the Trafalgar Woods project (which will create 27 new Trafalgar Woods - one for each ship involved in the famous battle) and significant profile in the press and media (so far, SeaBritain 2005 has generated over £1m of media coverage) all work towards broadening and deepening people's understanding and enjoyment of the nations' maritime heritage.

Domestic tourism marketing activity for SeaBritain takes the form of VisitBritain's Waterside England campaign. Marketing efforts are now building on this summer's events and focusing on online activity - a viral email campaign will be launched shortly, complementing e-newsletters being sent to nearly 100,000 people who have registered to receive information on events and attractions across England. This work is supported by Waterside England promotions at consumer shows and events such as the new Outdoor Show Urban Escapes in the Lea Valley, and the Hampton Court Flower Show.

The publication of the Select Committee's report is a strong statement welcomed by those people and organisations committed to developing Britain's great maritime heritage and ensuring its enjoyment by current and future generations. Crucially, this year provides us with a great opportunity - and we appreciate the Committee's timely work to emphasise the importance of the sector.

7 July 2005


 
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