NEW YORK -- The British Tourist Authority (BTA) will undergo a name
change in the spring as part of a British government-ordered merger
with the 3-year-old English Tourism Council.
As of April 1, the two tourism boards will combine their efforts
to promote the U.K. abroad and England within Great Britain; BTA
CEO Tom Wright will be at the helm of the new body.
A joint name should be announced in coming months.
Despite the incorporation of the domestic marketing of England,
new overseas promotions by the reconfigured BTA will not favor the
destination over Scotland and Wales, said a BTA spokeswoman in New
"From the point of view of an overseas BTA office, the merger
doesn't affect what we do, which is marketing [all of] Britain to
America," the spokeswoman said. "We have always had to represent
Scotland and Wales, so this shouldn't tip the balance."
Most U.S. promotion of Northern Ireland, the fourth constituent
part of the U.K., is now handled by Tourism Ireland -- a new
marketing body formed by the Irish Tourist Board and the Northern
Ireland Tourist Board on Jan. 1 -- although the BTA does continue
some marketing of the province.
Still, England has always been the big gun in the BTA's arsenal;
in 2001, 88% of the $17.5 billion spent by foreign visitors to
Great Britain was forked out in England proper, according to the
The merger plans follow the debut of a new, three-year BTA
marketing plan the organization said is designed to boost tourism
income, render overseas promotions "the best in the world," provide
a framework for greater partnership among British suppliers and
address new concerns.
Those include the base of more Web-savvy consumers; increased
competition from "higher-quality destinations"; the impact of
budget airlines on the short-breaks market; and the growth of
emerging source markets such as China, Russia and Poland.
Another key component of the "Leading the World to Britain" plan
is to assemble an overseas customer database of 6 million active
records by 2006.