Canada, U.S. Leading The Recovery For Great Britain

During an early May visit to Toronto, Gavin Landry, International Director for VisitBritain, was in an upbeat mood, telling Press Today that: “We’re almost at the point where we’re stopping our comparisons to 2019. It’s now comparing ourselves to 2022.”

Landry, recently promoted to International Director from his previous post as Executive Vice President, Americas, pointed out that: “Last year, we saw a really nice recovery of the inbound tourism industry. It was, I would say, interrupted in the first part of 2022 by Omicron – so you had that one brief period where travel was still being affected by COVID, but then after that, this idea of pent-up demand was something that really kind of came to the fore.”

Landry continued: “Canada and the US have been leading the recovery for Great Britain. The inbound volume from Canada and the US was almost … it was almost like flipping a switch once the travel conditions allowed for folks to travel.”

And the numbers are certainly impressive. In 2019, the last time that full-year figures were available due to the pandemic, 874,000 Canadians visited the United Kingdom.

VisitBritain’s forecast for 2023 is that Canadian visits will increase to 920,000 – a 5% jump over 2019 – and the spend forecast for 2023 is

in 2019 (last available full-year figures due to pandemic) £958,000 — up 30% on the £734,000 in 2019.

“That’s phenomenal,” Landry observed, pointing out that: “In the days when I was running the Americas and we were drawing plans up we were always trying to get that ‘magic million’ that was the goal and [today] we’re not far away if we hit our forecasts this year. So, we’re very, very happy about that.”

But it’s not just Canada and the United States.

In his new role, Landry looks after 22 markets worldwide, giving him a global view of how things are progressing and the verdict is pretty clear, “the markets are doing well.”

But Landry is also careful to point out that in driving the recovery, it is not about volume, explaining that: “we are not focused on volume whatsoever, we’re focused on value and that is spend. We would rather have [fewer] travellers who spend more because that’s one of our key objectives.”

As for where travel advisors fit, specifically, Canadian travel advisors, Landry is pretty clear where VisitBritain stands: “We think travel agents are very important.” VisitBritain’s International Director points out that “the nature of travel agents has changed over the years,” pointing to the growth of home-based agents who are, in many cases, younger and that means taking a different approach.

“In order to reach them,” Landry told Press Today, “You have to really work through the trade and the consortia to reach those folks and it does put a high demand upon education. It’s important for us to educate [them] and, in the process, help them to build up their base of business and to build their loyalty to the U.K.”

In fact, this fall, VisitBritain is planning an extensive series of training sessions for Canadian travel advisors as it works to achieve its goal of both educating and building loyalty in the agency community.

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