VisitBritain On A Mission At San Francisco Event

It ran for just two full work days, but in that time 2,350 meetings were accomplished at the Destination Britain North America travel trade event in San Francisco recently.

Just over 50 tourism product buyers from across Canada and the U.S. sat down with about 70 product suppliers from the UK in a series of rapid-fire meetings at the Parc 55 by Hilton in SF this past week, reports Baxter Media’s western editor Ted Davis, who attended the event.

They did so with the knowledge that North American travellers are responsible for driving much of the post-pandemic recovery of visitors to Great Britain – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

That is to say, 2022 UK arrivals from Canada have bounced back from the pandemic doldrums and have now exceeded 2019 Canadian arrivals by 3% — from 874,000 Canucks to 897,000. This growth is on track to hit a predicted 944,000 in 2023.

“Our mission is to drive a thriving tourism industry and North America is a vital part of the recovery,” said Nick de Bois, the chairman of VisitBritain, who was in attendance at the San Francisco event. The U.S. in particular has played a key role and is the number one international source market of visitors to the UK.

The spend rate of Canadians has also increased impressively – from £734 million in 2019 to £934 million in 2022 – a 27% growth. “We’re going to smash through that £1 billion mark,” said de Bois. He extolled the success of the “GREAT” marketing campaign and said that Visit Britain was laser focused on converting those advertising inspirations to bookings — not later, but now.

Canadians are spending about £1,042 per visit, which is up by 24% over 2019, and staying an average of 11 nights per trip. That compares to an all-market average of eight nights.

The British suppliers at the event were representing hotels/accommodations, visitor attractions, destination management companies, tour/sightseeing operations and transportation companies spanning the UK. Sixteen of these suppliers were new to the Destination Britain North America event, and there were also six new buyers, said VisitBritain executive VP Americas Paul Gauger, who spoke first at the gathering.

VisitBritain will operate a set of travel trade workshops in Ontario in mid-November. The mission will make visits to Kingston, Ajax, Barrie and London to meet and inform travel advisors on Great Britain tourism products. More cities across Canada will be added on later dates.

In the photos


Visit Britain Chairman Nick de Bois CBE met with Amanda Lumley, chief executive of Destination Plymouth during the business meetings at the Destination Britain North America event in San Francisco last week.


Some of the key Visit Britain executives at the Destination Britain North America event recently were (l. to r.) Visit Britain international director Gavin Landry; VB senior marketing/communications mgr. for Canada Cathy Stapells; and VB executive VP for Americas, Australia and New Zealand Paul Gauger.


Attendees at the recent Destination Britain North America travel trade event in San Francisco gathered for a celebratory beverage on the last day of the gathering.