London, Manchester and Birmingham are targeting visitors from GCC countries, as well as from China and India
UK’s largest cities seek to boost tourism from Gulf region
London, Manchester and Birmingham have joined forces to promote the best of English tourism to the Gulf region.
The first-of-its-kind partnership between the UK’s three largest cities will focus on increasing the number of visitors arriving in one city and then travelling across the different English regions.
Tourists from China and India are also being targeted by the project, called “Experience England” and led by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s official promotional agency.
The three target areas are viewed as some of the world’s fastest growing tourism markets.
In 2016, almost 1.5 million visitors arrived in Britain from the GCC countries, China and India, according to data from VisitBritain.
Figures from London & Partners also show the number of visitors to London from the three regions are expected to increase sharply by 2025.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is “committed” to working together with other parts of the UK to use London’s popularity to spur tourism across the country.
“London is home to the 10 most popular tourist attractions in the UK and we’re proud to welcome millions of visitors every year,” he said.
“But it’s important that they have the chance to see what’s on offer in other parts of the country too.”
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, also expressed their support for the initiative.
The tourism and hospitality sector is a key industry in the UK, accounting for 9 per cent of GDP. In London, the figure is higher at almost 12 per cent.
The Brexit vote in June 2016 buoyed Britain’s tourism sector, with a surge in the number of overseas visitors taking advantage of the slump in the value of the pound.
The UK government is keen to maintain this trend, particularly with other critical sectors such as financial services facing uncertainty about what Britain’s departure from the EU means for them.
A £40 million Discover England fund was launched by the government in 2016 to ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing tourism industry, with funds spread over three years.
“Experience England” was one of a number of successful projects to receive funding as part of this scheme, with London & Partners receiving a £1.2 million grant to get the plan off the ground.
Sally Balcombe, chief executive at VisitBritain and VisitEngland, which administers the fund, said: “The successful projects will boost international and domestic visitor growth creating a step-change in the industry and spreading the economic benefits of tourism across England.”