We are open for business! That was the enthusiastic battle cry from tourism executives as the annual ExploreGB event got underway in Brighton today (Thursday).
Some 400 buyers from around the world joined 400 UK suppliers and 30 international media (including Traveltalk managing editor Jon Underwood) at the Brighton Centre. More than 40,000 business meetings were expected to take place during the two-day event.
“Tourism is one of the most competitive industries in the world and ExploreGB, our flagship trade event, is an extremely valuable business tool to help us stay competitive,” said Carol Dray, Commercial Director for VisitBritain, during her opening remarks.
“It allows us to showcase our world-class attractions, latest tourism products, innovations and do business with buyers globally from a really broad range of global markets. It is also a fantastic platform for you to come and learn about the very best that Britain has to offer.”
Figures show Britain continues to be a hugely popular destination for travellers from across the globe, welcoming a record-breaking 37.3 million visitors last year, pumping £22.2 billion into the economy. There were 7.5 million additional visitors between 2010 and 2016, an increase of 25 per cent. Forecasts show this trend is set to continue with 38.8 million visitors predicted in 2017, with an estimated £23.9 billion spend. Tourism currently brings in £127 billion to the UK economy each year.
“These numbers represent people who come from across the globe to enjoy all that Great Britain has to offer. We play a crucial role in demonstrating we are incredibly welcoming and, most importantly, we are open for business.
“Britain is offering great value for overseas visitors and we are working really hard to show the world why it is a really good time to book a trip to Britain right now. We are promoting a message of value and welcome.”
Ms Dray emphasised the current #OMGB campaign, designed to inspire visitors to share their experiences of a trip to Britain and become ‘ambassadors’ for the destination.