‘We expect 2022 to be a stellar year’

Speaking about the eleventh-biggest market in terms of spend for the UK, VisitBritain CEO, Sally Balcombe, expects that India will climb up to the NTO’s top 10 list soon given the market’s growth trajectory. The pent-up demand to travel among Indians is expected to be a driving force.

Hazel Jain

Speaking exclusively to TRAVTALK on the sidelines of the annual five-day global trade event ExploreGB, Sally Balcombe said, “We expect 2022 to be a stellar year. The event saw 30 buyers from India this year and we are expecting huge numbers from India when international travel resumes. ExploreGB goes to show that you can really conduct these events virtually, and that we can have as many meetings as we normally have during a physical show, and that people do make great connections during such virtual events.”

ExploreGB Virtual brought together more than 350 global buyers to connect online with 350 tourism industry suppliers and destinations from across the UK to do business. Travel industry buyers from 20 countries joined the event and more than 1,000 pre-scheduled one-to-one virtual business meetings took place during the event.

Referring to the in-house research conducted by VisitBritain, she added, “Our research shows that India is ready to travel. India was more positive about travelling than pretty much any other nation. It also scored very high on the VFR traffic. There is just so much pent-up demand to travel. In India, the lockdown was brutal so we expect it to be one of the earliest markets opening up. And we will be delighted to see you and welcome you!”

Plans for 2021-22

Balcombe explains that the destination is getting ready to welcome visitors. “We are now building to 2022 which will be a massive year for the UK with the Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II and the Commonwealth Games which will have a huge draw for India. So we are expecting a lot of business from India in 2022 which is going to be a stellar year for us.

Our marketing strategy for this year will be all about how we open up safely with our ‘We’re Good to Go’ scheme where nearly 44,000 businesses have signed up. It has also been recognised by the WTTC. That, supplemented with our vaccination drive, the India market needs to know that we are a safe country,” she added.

She also commented on the new protocols for internationals travellers who are already vaccinated and said, “We are working on that at the moment. There will be some sort of vaccination passports. The UK government will announce this soon, after which we will announce the new requirements for inbound travellers.”

“At the moment India is 16th in volume and the eleventh-biggest market in terms of spend for us. But, the really important thing is that you are growing fast. We know we are the second-most popular destination in Europe for the India market. Indians spend a lot of money here and stay a longer time – 56 per cent more time than others on an average. We really value you as a market and would like you to grow even more. Your growth trajectory will take you into our top 10 international markets very soon!” Balcombe added.

‘Good to Go’ and ‘Safe’

VisitBritain has announced that tourism businesses in the UK registered to the ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard scheme can now be automatically issued with the international ‘Safe Travels’ stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The WTTC stamp enables travellers to recognise destinations around the world which have adopted global standardised protocols – so they can experience ‘Safe Travels.’ VisitBritain is coordinating the Safe Travels stamp issue in the UK, on behalf of the WTTC.



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