Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Tue November 24 2015

Britain Highlights the Countryside While Breaking Tourism Records in 2015

Destination & Tourism | Janeen Christoff | November 24, 2015

Britain Highlights the Countryside While Breaking Tourism Records in 2015

PHOTO: The beautiful Scottish Highlands. (courtesy VisitBritain)

Tourism in Britain is growing by leaps and bounds. International visits to region for the first nine months of 2015 broke previous records, according to the Office for National Statistics.

This is a good thing, since tourism is Britain's seventh largest export industry and its third largest service sector. The industry is a major job creator. For example, every 22 additional Chinese visitors who come to Britain create an additional job in the sector. Inbound tourism was worth more than $39 billion to the UK economy in 2013.

"It's really great to see the continued growth in visitor numbers as well as the gains we've made in global perceptions of our brand,” said Patricia Yates, director of VisitBritain, the UK’s strategic body for inbound tourism. "Promoting Britain's countryside, culture and 'welcome' around the world have been a focus for VisitBritain, so it is really positive to see the big improvements in these areas.”

The continued growth in international visits reflects findings from the 2015 Anholt-GfK Nations Brand Index (NBI) published earlier this week, which showed that global perceptions of Britain as a welcoming place are improving.

Visitors to Britain are up 3 percent over last year and spending is also reaching record levels. International visitors to the UK spent 2.2 billion, which is on par with 2014’s record spending levels.

What is driving interest in travel to Britain? Superior branding – at least when it comes to visitors from the United States. 

The U.S. rated Britain second out of 50 nations for its brand, with the highest leaps in perceptions of “natural beauty” and “cultural heritage” in the NBI survey. The U.S. market has also been showing a continued return to growth in the region, with a 3 percent increase in visitors to Britain during the first six months of 2015 compared to the previous year, and the amount spent 2 percent higher in the first six months of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014.

“The continued improvement across our most valuable visitor markets, including the U.S., France and Germany, as well as in growth markets such as China where we've been running our GREAT China Welcome program and Culture is GREAT campaigns, is also a great endorsement that our international campaigns and marketing are producing results,” said Yates.

VisitBritain launched its global Countryside is GREAT campaign in February of this year to drive visits across the whole of Britain and, now, international perceptions of the UK's “natural beauty” have reached new heights.

The Countryside is GREAT campaign was a joint effort with the National Parks, the Forestry Commission, the Canal and River Trust and Hertz Cars as well as the national tourist boards to position Britain as a place to enjoy modern culture, top-quality food and world-class accommodation in a beautiful landscape.

The campaign builds on existing visitor interest in Britain’s countryside, showcasing the nations and regions of Britain, providing information on where to find great experiences and how to get there, through initiatives such as The Countryside Collection website and by working through the travel trade. VisitBritain also collaborated with the BBC to produce a film showcasing the experiences available in the British countryside.

It is estimated that the digital and print campaign reached 65.3 million people in the U.S.

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