Written evidence from VisitBritain (OLL 17)

 

 

Our vision for the 2012 Games:

The whole of the UK's tourism industry will benefit from the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, with economic gains maximised across every nation and region of the UK. In addition the long-term image of the UK as a visitor destination will be enhanced while visitors to Britain during 2012 and beyond will be assured of a world-class welcome.

 

1. Introduction

1.1 VisitBritain, incorporated under the Development of Tourism Act 1969 as the British Tourist Authority, is Britain's national tourism agency, responsible for marketing Britain overseas. We work in partnership with thousands of organisations in the UK and overseas to ensure that Britain is marketed appropriately and effectively in 35 markets around the world. We also work to realise the potential of the tourism industry within the UK itself.

1.2 VisitBritain is grateful for the opportunity to share information and views for this important inquiry into preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. There are key issues in the visitor economy that VisitBritain would wish to be borne in mind. VisitBritain sees its role as enabling tourism businesses and, particularly those regions outside of London, to benefit from the hosting of the Games in 2012. To this end, we have been working in partnership for some time with Visit London, our strategic partners across Britain, and in particularly with LOCOG's Nations and Regions group.

1.3 Tourism is a 114 billion industry that sustains over 2.6 million jobs, directly employs 4.3% of Britain's workforce and supports 200,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Against this positive background, the impact of the world recession has been significant and many of the world's highest value tourist destinations have seen sharp downturns in tourist spending. During the first 10 months of 2009 Britain welcomed 8% fewer international visitors than in the 2008 equivalent period.

1.4 Latest figures suggest that whilst 2010 will not see record numbers of inbound visitors or visitor spend, the prolonged weakness in the value of sterling will result in a stronger performance, particularly in visitor spend. The tourism industry has therefore reached a turning point and will be a key economic driver to lift Britain out of recession as we enter 2010 and beyond. The 2012 Games are critical to this, and this submission sets out how the Games will deliver a lasting legacy for Britain's visitor economy and how this legacy will be maximised across the UK.

1.5 We have kept this memorandum as brief as possible and would welcome the opportunity to provide oral evidence to elaborate on those areas of the visitor economy that most interest the committee.

2. Potential tourism benefits of the Games and strategies for achieving these

 

2.1 In 2006 an Oxford Economics study predicted that the 2012 Games could generate between 2.1 - 2.9 billion in incremental tourism revenue between then and 2016. These figures - which represent 10% of the total 21 billion potential economic benefit of the 2012 Games more recently estimated by Lloyds TSB - are at the heart of all tourism strategies surrounding the 2012 Games although the potential benefits of the Games to tourism extend way beyond the pure economic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tourism legacies of other Olympic and major event host nations include:

 

- Barcelona 1992 was the first of a series of events that have helped make Barcelona the third most popular city break destination in Europe.

- Sydney 2000 accelerated the development of 'Brand Australia' by at least a decade

- Germany 2006 helped propel Germany to the number one nation brand and significantly enhanced the country's appeal as a potential visitor destination

- The Canadians are hoping that Vancouver 2010 will help them enter the Top 10 of the world's leading destinations by 2014

 

 

2.2 'Winning: a tourism strategy for 2012 and beyond', recognises that although London and Britain are already among the world's top city and country destinations, only a very small percentage of Britain's 200,000 tourism businesses will be high up in the 2012 Games supply chain and thus have any direct engagement with the 2012 Games and their visitors and spectators (see fig 1 below). It also recognises the potential of the 2012 Games to act as a catalyst in addressing a number of critical issues which are currently limiting the potential growth of tourism into and within this country. These include the need to reach out to younger visitors and to new markets, to improve aspects and overall perceptions of Britain's welcome and to counteract potential tourism displacement effects which have proved to be a problem for previous Olympic Games host countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 1: Source VisitBritain

 

2.3 The strategy, published by DCMS in collaboration with VisitBritain and Visit London in October 2007, set out eight key objectives for maximising the potential benefits offered to UK tourism by the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. This strategy set out eight key objectives, as follows:

 

1. Engage all UK tourism businesses in a national campaign

2. Improve international perceptions of Britain

3. Deliver a first-class welcome to all visitors

4. Improve the skills of the workforce

5. Drive up quality in accommodation

6. Maximise the opportunities for increasing business visits and events

7. Spread the benefits across the UK

8. Improve sustainability

 

2.4 More recently VisitBritain has grouped its own 2012 Games-related activities under three main objectives:

 

 

A) Economic Benefit

To maximise the economic benefits for tourism across the UK

Supports Government Olympic objective 3.1.2:

To maximise the economic benefits of the Games across the UK including for tourism and business promotion

B) Image

To boost the UK's image as a visitor destination

Supports Government Olympic objective 3.1.7:

To promote positive images of the UK to an international audience

C) Welcome

To deliver a warm and professional welcome

to visitors in 2012 and beyond

Supports Olympic Legacy Action Plan promise 5:

To demonstrate that the UK is a creative, inclusive and welcoming place to live in, visit and for business

 

3. How legacy will be delivered

 

3.1 Economic Benefit

To maximise the economic benefits for tourism across the UK VisitBritain is concentrating on the following four key areas

i) Business Visits & Events: We are using the 2012 Games as a platform to secure more sporting and business events throughout Britain, for example by:

Providing bidding organisations with advocacy and technical information to support their bids for other major sporting events and Pre-Games Training Camps in the run up to 2012;

Increasing Britain's 'events' content at international showcases and exhibitions and running more familiarisation trips and educational activities for international Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions buyers;

Creating tools for events organisers to encourage delegates to extend their trips and thus help maximise the tourism impact of these events;

Hosting a "World travel leaders Summit" for key decision makers and buyers in 2011.

 

ii) Industry engagement: We are providing information and opportunities to help the wider tourism industry engage with and benefit from the 2012 Games. An immediate example is the creation of a virtual network through which every UK tourism business will be able to get information about, and design their own business plans around the Games - see fig 2 below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 26 January 2010, DCMS, VisitBritain and Visit London will be hosting a seminar for the tourism industry to identify marketing opportunities which flow from the hosting of the Games. The seminar will give practical advice to private, public and voluntary sector businesses on the regulations affecting capitalising on the Games and the opportunities which can be exploited.

iii) Distribution: We are providing a number of platforms to help the industry to directly reach Games decision-makers and visitors, eg:

Developing links between Games ticketing services and tourism networks to ensure that every visitor to the Games has direct access to quality tourism products;

Helping the industry to aggregate and/or tailor existing tourism products and packages that will cater for the very specific needs of Games visitors, and in turn passing details of these products/packages up towards the top of the 2012 Games supply chain.

 

iv) International marketing: We are designing all of our marketing activities for the next three years around the 2012 Games to inspire more international visitors to explore Britain. Specific examples include:

Introducing a clear marketing narrative and a logo device related to the 2012 Games which will be used across all our own campaigns and by our UK and overseas travel trade partners;

A standalone campaign, in partnership with one of the global 2012 Games sponsors, to tackle potential displacement in 2012;

Facilitating an additional 1.6 billion of positive international media coverage of destination Britain.

 

3.2 Image

According to Nielson Media Research, the 2012 Games will be seen by 4.7 billion people around the world. That is equivalent to approximately 70% of the global viewing population. This spotlight and the surrounding coverage it generates is a chance to fast-track some destination brand management that would otherwise take decades. In readiness for this VisitBritain is concentrating on three key areas which we believe will significantly help boost the UK's image as a visitor destination:

i) Brand & partnerships: We are seeking to enhance the global appeal and reach of the Britain brand message through:

Working directly with some of the Olympic and Paralympic Games global sponsors to facilitate content of Britain as a destination throughout their international activation programmes;

Joining forces with other public diplomacy bodies (FCO, UKTI, British Council etc) on a number of international programmes that project Britain as a great country to visit, work with and invest in.

 

ii) Media: We are taking advantage of the mass media interest in the 2012 Games to reach new customers and raise the destination's profile, through:

Providing Games media - both rights-holders and unaccredited - with destination content (footage, imagery, story ideas etc) for use in their coverage;

Incorporating Games-related messages into travel/lifestyle media campaigns in all our key markets;

Working with the London agencies to provide a UK-wide media centre and service in central London during the Games.

 

iii) Online Content: We are capitalising on the global trend towards 'living life through a screen' to amplify the biggest influence on travel decisions, ie word of mouth, by:

Creating exciting new 'Britain' online content inspired by the 2012 Games which can be accessed and forwarded without distortion through the full range of ever-evolving online devices;

Forming partnerships with some of the world's leading social networking sites to cost-effectively deliver this content to a mass international audience.

 

3.3 Welcome

Research from Nation Brands Index (NBI) reveals that Britain's reputation for welcome needs to be improved. With the eyes of the world on Britain in 2012, how we welcome our visitors will be crucial to the long-term success of the Games to London and Britain. Because of this VisitBritain is working with partners across government and the tourism & hospitality industries to significantly improve the visitor experience throughout every stage of the customer journey. Examples include:

The VisitBritain-chaired 'Welcome to Britain' project which is directing the industry to make improvements wherever necessary;

A push for easier, less expensive and more user-friendly visa application processes, especially in key growth markets such as China and India;

Individual improvement programmes for each of the UK's top 10 ports of entry;

Numerous initiatives by People 1st and the National Skills Academy to develop skills;

Identifying and sharing examples of best practice around the UK, such as local 'greeters' schemes, training modules, toolkits etc;

Introducing better guidance for visitors on how to recognise and select quality tourism businesses and products.

4. VisitBritain's Olympic tourism-related ambitions

The following are some of the ways we will be measuring the success of our Games-related work:

 

An additional 50% of 2012 Games-related positive media coverage (ie. 1 billion Opportunities to See (OTS))

Incremental spend generated by VisitBritain's marketing of 20 for every marketing spent

Two new partners secured delivering 1.5 million revenue and value in kind

Improved perceptions of welcome as measured by CAA survey and NBI

Industry engagement, including visits to/registrations on www.tourism2012games.com

Visitor numbers and regional spread, including Games-time visitors beyond London

Brand partnerships in place that attract more than 7.5 million in-kind support by 2012

20 million unique visitors annually to VisitBritain.com by 2012

Average length of stay on visitbritain.com doubled to an average of 3.5 minutes by 2012

On-track to the delivery of the Oxford Economics forecast of 2.1 billion

A stronger position for Britain in the Latin American markets, especially Brazil resulting from agreement in place with Brazilian tourism authorities to knowledge share around 2012/2016

Britain's destination ranking improved by an average of one place (IPS)

Britain's ranking as a convention destination improved from 5th to 3rd place by 2012

5. Conclusion

With just under three years to go until the Games there is still a great deal of detail to be developed. However we hope this submission demonstrates our grasp of the opportunity and the huge amount of activity already being undertaken by VisitBritain to support the 2012 Games and help maximise the legacy.

 

January 2010