‘Focus also on value of travellers’

VisitBritain continues to showcase West Midlands to the Indian travel trade through the latest engagement at Showcase Britain 2024 B2B event, as well as the Britain Ireland Marketplace event held in London, followed by an exciting familiarisation tour. Shuja Bin Mehdi, Senior Manager Industry Engagement – India, VisitBritain, shares details.

Hazel Jain

Using its annual Showcase Britain 2024 B2B event and the Britain Ireland Marketplace, VisitBritain hosted 11 Indian buyers to an educational tour to exciting destinations such as Bicester Village, Stratford-upon-Avon, Coventry, Cotswold, and Birmingham. Each destination offered a glimpse into the rich history, culture, and attractions of Midland Britain. The meetings with the suppliers from Great Britain at the Intercontinental O2 in London were informative and interactive where Indian agents forged lasting relationships.

Sharing details, Shuja Bin Mehdi, Senior Manager Industry Engagement – India, VisitBritain, who was part of the Indian delegation, says, “VisitBritain tied up with an industry trade association called ETOA (European Tour Operators Association) and UK Inbound. The idea is to bring the buyers from overseas markets – over 120 of them – and close to a 180 UK and Irish suppliers under one roof where they conducted one-on-one meetings and discussed packaging Britain and Ireland better.”

VisitBritain picked 11 hosted buyers based on the business they delivered over the past few years. These were mid-sized operators and large-scale companies based in Mumbai, New Delhi and tier II markets such as Jalandhar, Pune, Gurugram, Gorakhpur, and Raipur. “The idea is to help them have conversations with the UK trade beginning with the event in London. Post that we are hosting them on a fam trip to the West Midlands. The aim is to show them the attractions and the destinations within the West Midlands, starting with Stratford Upon Avon, Coventry and Birmingham and showcase Birmingham as the gateway to the West Midlands,” Mehdi adds. Air India hosted the tickets for the group.

Evolution of preferences

VisitBritain’s main target segment is family, and therefore, it focuses on attractions that are popular with them. “The other segment we also focus on is luxury. This was showcased through some of the hotels that were picked for this Fam. We wanted to showcase that particularly to the mid-size operators. We are continuing with our focus on generating more and more value for visitors and not only go after volume players,” he adds.

In this FY, until 31 March, VisitBritain will be delivering a series of six roadshows across six cities in India. The focus will be to interact and meet frontline staff to help them develop itineraries for the UK from scratch using the VisitBritain website. Pune and Ahmedabad are already done, with four more cities to go. “We see an evolution of preferences that Indian visitors to UK demand in the itineraries that are being sold. The value of the packages has also gone up by at least 30-40 per cent as compared to pre-COVID. Not only has the number of stays gone up, but also the money they spend in the UK, experience better quality hotels, people are spending longer time and more on experiential travel rather than just sightseeing,” he says.

Indian visitors are also exploring England beyond London. “A lot of focus is on Manchester as the gateway to north of England and a lot of interest in Scotland as well. We are seeing a good number of visitors to Birmingham and going to Stratford Upon Avon,” Mehdi adds.

Popular films and TV shows

The focus is also on developing itineraries around film and TV filming locations popular among the Western audience. So, Europe and North America is the focus for this at the moment. “But going forward VisitBritain will develop more itineraries and share more content with the travel trade which will also focus on Asian markets, including India.

India ranks UK at 4th place in 2023

According to a report, ‘How the world views the UK 2023’, published by VisitBritain, India ranked the UK one place higher in 2023 at 4th place. Tourism gained one place to 5th and within this dimension historic buildings gained three places to 3rd, vibrant cities moved up one place to 5th and natural beauty gained 10 places to 14th rank.



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