As Paralympic heroes get set to take the stage this week, new research from VisitBritain suggests that receiving a good welcome is likely to see visitors recommend travelling to the UK to others, with 80% of visitors feeling at least ‘very welcome’ in 2011.
VisitBritain sponsored a question on the Civil Aviation Authority’s survey of nearly 9,000 departing overseas visitors. Over the three years the large study was conducted, results show that there has been a steady improvement both in how welcome visitors felt, and in how likely they are to recommend Britain to others. Overall, over one in four visitors felt ‘extremely welcome’ in Britain, an improvement in recent years. It is hoped the remarkable success of the London 2012 Games will help boost this perception even further.
The markets where English is the first language (USA, Australia and Canada) are amongst those feeling most welcome, with almost 40 per cent of Americans reporting to have felt ‘extremely welcome’ during their visit.
The findings also revealed that over 40 per cent of those questioned would be ‘extremely likely’ to recommend visiting Britain for a holiday to their friends and family, up 5% from 2010. With recommendations for travel via family and friends far more influential than any travel brochures, special offers or advertising.
In the spring of 2012 international travellers in 14 cities around the world(1), including those in Paris, New York, Shanghai and Rio, were asked the extent to which they perceived Britain as being ‘friendly and welcoming’. By far the highest spenders in the UK, visitors from America were again generally more positive about the British welcome on offer, with one in five Americans interviewed associating Britain as welcoming. The Chinese were equally positive – a good omen as Britain hopes to be able to treble visitor number by 2015(2).
In comparison, around one in twenty people from established Asian markets in Tokyo and Hong Kong viewed Britain as welcoming, while those in France generally felt the UK was the least hospitable destination for them on their travels. Those in the influential emerging Indian market view Britain strongly, with those questioned suggesting the UK’s performance is much stronger than the French who are ranked the lowest.
But where do people feel most welcome?
Tourist attractions (22%) and restaurants (21%) were most likely to be the first point mentioned as being most welcoming. Pubs and bars were also popular welcome points with 13 per cent mentioning that they felt welcome there. Shops and accommodation are also mentioned by around a third (32% and 31% respectively), although they are more likely to be mentioned in second or third place after restaurants and tourist attractions.
Patricia Yates, Director of Strategy and Communications at VisitBritain said: “Enhancing the world’s perceptions of a British welcome will help us attract more visitors in the years ahead. The London 2012 Games were a great advertisement for Britain – with the volunteers and the warmth of the welcome being picked up around the world.
“We want to make sure that we continue to be seen as a welcoming destination for our visitors so that they continue to want to come back and recommend us to their friends and family.”
VisitBritain is the national tourism agency, responsible for marketing Britain worldwide and developing Britain’s visitor economy.
A non-departmental public body, funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, we work with partners in the UK and overseas to ensure that Britain is marketed in an inspirational and relevant way around the world. Our partners include government agencies such as UKTI and British Council, airlines and operators, global brands such as Samsung and the English Premier League as well as the official tourism bodies for London, England, Scotland and Wales.
Our priority is to deliver a four-year match-funded global marketing programme which takes advantage of the unique opportunity of the Royal Wedding, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Games. Our objective is to showcase Britain and attract new visitors from the tourism growth markets of Asia and Latin America and to reinvigorate our appeal in core markets such as the USA, France and Germany. This campaign aims to secure an additional £2 billion in visitor spend.
Notes to Editors
300 people were interviewed in each city.
In 2011 the UK attracted 150,000 Chinese visitors. Using additional funding from the GREAT campaign, VisitBritain hopes to increase the number of visitors to 500,000 by 2015.
CAA research was undertaken from 2009-2011 in the main UK airports of Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and Manchester to monitor the welcome visitors felt as they departed home.