As the latest tourism figures show significant growth in visits to Britain from the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions, VisitBritain kicks off its largest annual Asia Pacific Middle East overseas B2B tourism mission at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Bali today.
In the first nine months of 2014 Australia delivered new records for both visitor nights and spend in Britain – both up by 4% – whilst there was 4% growth in visits from the GCC markets, with a combined spend of £1.1 billion. The highest growth in spend and nights was from Saudi Arabia, growing at 42% for visits and 58% on spend on the same period 2013. Spend by visitors from India grew 3% on the same period in 2013 to £340 million, whilst spend by Japanese visitors went up by 12%.
Now in its twelfth consecutive year, this is the first time VisitBritain has held the annual three-day tourism event in Indonesia. The FCO’s Deputy Head of Mission to Indonesia, Juliet Maric Capeling OBE, will be in attendance in Bali to mark the occasion. With visit numbers and tourist spend from Indonesia to Britain growing at a rapid rate – and Garuda Indonesia launching its new flight from Jakarta to London via Amsterdam last year – this is a crucial time for VisitBritain to broaden its engagement in the Indonesian market and surrounding APME regions.
From January to September 2014 there were a record 25,000 visits from Indonesia to Britain, during which a record-breaking £31 million was spent, resulting in an average of £1,240 spent per visit over that period – around double that of the ‘average’ visitor across all markets (£626). Within five years VisitBritain expects these visit numbers to rise by a staggering 60%.
Destination Britain APMEA provides the British tourism industry with vital access to top travel specialists across the APMEA region. Over the course of the three-day mission 53 UK representatives from tourism businesses across Britain – including attractions, hotels, tour operators, regional tourist boards and transport providers – will connect with 84 of the top travel agents from 18 countries across Asia, Pacific, Middle East via a series of one-on-one workshop meetings and networking events. This year there are seven new companies attending, including Marketing Cheshire, Regent Street London and See London By Night.
At Destination Britain APMEA 2015 VisitBritain is also debuting new destination seminars for attending suppliers and buyers, which will cover Culture, Countryside and Luxury – the three core focus areas for the agency’s marketing activity in 2015/2016.
Christopher Rodrigues, Chairman of VisitBritain, said: “The work we do at Destination Britain APMEA is crucial to the promotion of the country’s tourism product in these valuable markets, helping to put Britain front of mind when it comes to destination choice. The event allows us to promote our great British product across a wide network of countries and provide a route to export growth for UK businesses at a key time for the economy.
“There are ever more reasons to visit Britain in 2015, including Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink and of course, the Rugby World Cup, which kicks off in September across various locations in England and Wales.”
Sumathi Ramanathan, VisitBritain Regional Regional Manager, Asia Pacific and Middle East, commented: “Outbound travel prospects from the APMEA region are looking very strong. The business connections forged and built upon at Destination Britain play a crucial role in ensuring we maximise this growth opportunity. It is one of our most popular overseas events and a highly effective way of raising awareness of Britain across the APMEA region, showcasing the sheer diversity of what the destination has to offer its visitors.”
Visits and spend from the APMEA region make a valuable contribution to the UK economy. In the last ten years VisitBritain has seen combined visits from its core APMEA markets grow by 48% – from 1.5 to 2.3 million – and tourist spending has gone up by 132%, from £1.34 billion to over £3.11 billion.
Indonesia is one of VisitBritain’s key ‘nurture’ markets. The tourism board is working closely with the FCO, UKTI and British Council to extend its global footprint into countries where it does not currently have a staffed presence but which are showing strong tourism growth potential and are strategically important to the wider interests of Britain’s economy. VisitBritain’s other nurture markets are South Africa, Mexico, Turkey, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand.