Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Oct 16, 2017

VisitBritain says Canada is GREAT!

Mike Dunbar

(Pictured above: The 9th Destination Britain North America trade fair hosted 170 participants at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. Pictured on the roof of the property are VisitBritain team members (l-right) Carl Walsh, travel trade director, Americas; Emma Wilkinson, interim marketing and communications director, Americas; Carol Dray, commercial director; Michael Howells, Britain’s Consul General to the southwest US; Gavin Landry executive VP, Americas; and Paul Gauger, senior VP, Americas.)

Canada is set to play a key role in Britain’s drive to spread the inbound tourism load more equitably throughout a nation where the capital city currently accounts for 53% of all inbound spend; leaving 35% for the rest of England, 8% for Scot-land and 2% for Wales.
This country is already playing its part as a top-ten tourist provider, but, more importantly, as a market that bucks the London-centric trend and is more likely than most to explore what the rest of the British Isles has to offer.
At the recent Destination Britain North America (DBNA) trade fair in Los Angeles, newly-minted VisitBritain executive VP for the Americas Gavin Landry told CTP, “Dispersal and incremental visitation are two of our highest priorities and our special relationship with Canada is helping us achieve those goals.”
He explained that this is a market with “a large understanding” of the destination and a propensity to explore it in-depth. “Canadians are apt to rent a car or jump on a train, which has resulted in 66% of total nights being spent outside London,” Landry noted.
Last year, Britain counted 828,000 Canadian arrivals, meaning that one-in-45 of us crossed the pond to the UK, compared with one-in-95 Americans.
This year, Canadian arrivals have been “clicking ahead at plus-22%,” he revealed.
Prior to joining VisitBritain, Landry was executive director of Tourism of New York State where he spearheaded the iconic I LOVE NEW YORK campaign which garnered record results for the entire state and not just New York City. “We can use the same tactics to highlight London-plus,” said Landry.
The relative strength of the dollar versus the pound has played a part in the ongoing tourism success Britain is enjoying, and he pointed out, “We have had a great value proposition for the past couple of years, currently and going forward.”
Carol Dray, VisitBritain’s commercial director, echoed Landry’s dispersal comments, stating, “Our objectives are all about incrementality; that is, bringing new visitors to Great Britain, getting them to stay longer and spend more.”
To achieve those goals, she said there was a need to get them out of the major cities like London, Manchester and Edinburgh “that are on everyone’s bucket list” and into the regions.
While London is consistently the main visitor draw, Dray said the capital itself is experiencing a similar problem “trying to get people out of zone one.”
She added, “We’re a small country, and it’s easy to get around. Canadians know this, and they’re more adventurous than most, which is fantastic.”
According to the commercial chief “VisitBritain is very fortunate to benefit from a strong visit friends and relatives connection with Canadians.
“It’s a good target audience for us.
We want to get them away from the in-laws, and we want to work with the Canadian travel trade to offer them post-family travel opportunities throughout Britain,” she said.
Dray pointed out that VisitBritain recently relaunched its trade website, offering a wealth of information on product development, itineraries and a directory “to help find the right UK suppliers.”
The BritAgent trade education site has also been revamped and is now “an ungated portal where users can pick and choose what they want to learn about,” explained Dray, who added that VisitBritain no longer offers ‘fams,’ but calls its in-country trade learning trips ‘educationals’.
And she quipped, “Those educationals have to do what they say they do on the tin!”