The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, taking place from 28 July to 8 August, is fast approaching and VisitBritain is ramping up its international activity to drive visits in the run-up to the Games and beyond.
It is hosting more than 40 top travel buyers, tour operators and trade media from Australia, Canada and India on educational visits to Birmingham and the West Midlands during the Games, in partnership with the West Midlands Growth Company.
The trade visits, which range from five-to-eight days, get underway from 25 July. As well as attending sporting events at the Games, the international buyers are visiting destinations and visitor attractions across the West Midlands, from a river cruise exploring Shakespeare’s Stratford-Upon-Avon, a culinary course in the heart of Birmingham’s Balti Triangle to a trip back in time at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley.
The international buyers are also meeting to do business with British travel trade suppliers and destinations during the Games as part of a dedicated ‘Tourism Day’ on 5 August. The trade showcase, hosted by VisitBritain in partnership with the West Midlands Growth Company, is part of the programme of events at UK House, The Commonwealth Business Hub, led by the Department for International Trade. Britain’s ability to host world-class sporting events will be in the global spotlight during the Games and the Tourism Day will see leading industry stakeholders come together to highlight the importance of major events to the visitor economy, harnessing opportunities to drive tourism across the nations and regions.
VisitBritain CEO Patricia Yates said: “We are delighted to be hosting international travel buyers and media to destinations across the West Midlands during the Games, showing that Britain is packed full of fresh and exciting experiences to come and enjoy right now and that our industry is ready to welcome back visitors and provide a first-class experience.
“Working with the international trade, building product knowledge and ensuring they are ready to sell Britain, is crucial to driving bookings and spending. We also want to broaden travel itineraries, encouraging visitors to stay longer, explore further and boost visits across the shoulder seasons, supporting local businesses and economies.
“We know there is pent-up demand for travel and major sporting events are a proven tourism draw. The Games, set to be watched by a global audience of hundreds of millions, will also show our hospitality and warm welcome to the world as well as Britain’s ability to host events of the highest calibre.”
West Midlands Growth Company Chief Executive Neil Rami said:
“There is surely no better way to truly get to know a destination than by experiencing it in person. Working with our VisitBritain colleagues in the UK and across the Commonwealth, we have created several exciting and varied multi-day West Midlands itineraries for our international trade and media visitors, which show off the very best of the region’s cultural, culinary, accommodation and sporting highlights.
“Following a challenging period for our tourism businesses, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to present the West Midlands to a huge worldwide audience.
“Across the Games fortnight, we look forward to creating amazing memories for our groups of overseas guests, who we hope will then encourage many more new international visitors to come and find out what makes this region, its venues and its communities so special.”
The trade visits are part of VisitBritain’s activity in partnership with the West Midlands Growth Company through the Business and Tourism Programme (BATP). VisitBritain is running a three-year programme through the BATP in its major Commonwealth inbound tourism markets Australia, Canada and India to boost awareness of the West Midlands’ tourism offer.
VisitBritain’s research shows the positive impact that major sporting events can have on a country’s international standing. Following the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games Britain’s overall ‘nation brand’ improved, so did international perceptions of its welcome. Britain is already highly regarded for its sporting excellence and its sporting offer, ranking fourth-out-of-60 countries for this attribute in the 2021 Nations Brand Index.
Visitors who come to the UK to watch sport also stay longer and spend more, spending an average of £1000 compared to the all market average of £691 and staying 11 nights versus an all market average of eight. About 2.2 million visits to the UK annually include ‘going to live sports events’ with those visitors spending £2.3 billion in total during their stay.
Inbound tourism is the UK’s third largest service export, worth more than £28 billion to the economy in 2019.