VisitBritain seeks to calm Brexit anxiety

|
If Brexit spurs a decline in arrivals from Europe, VisitBritain will redouble its promotional efforts in the U.S., said CEO Sally Balcombe.
If Brexit spurs a decline in arrivals from Europe, VisitBritain will redouble its promotional efforts in the U.S., said CEO Sally Balcombe. Photo Credit: Eric Moya

HARROGATE, England -- Although uncertainty surrounding Britain's looming exit from the European Union has dampened some Europeans' desire to visit the U.K., a majority of Americans are saying Brexit won't affect their travel plans.

There is some concern, however.

According to a survey by national tourism agency VisitBritain, 59% of respondents from the country's key source markets (Europe, the U.S. and China) said Brexit had no impact on their likelihood to visit Britain.

Among Americans, the U.K.'s second-largest source market behind France, about 7% indicated they were less likely to visit Britain due to Brexit. About 35% indicated they were concerned about how ongoing Brexit negotiations might affect their travel plans.

VisitBritain CEO Sally Balcombe said they need not be concerned.

"Yes, there are some concerns about travel from Europe; we would be disingenuous if we said there weren't," she said in an interview. "But that's great news for you guys. So I think the message for [the U.S. market] is: Nothing changes. The visa and the access situation remains exactly the same as it is now, the planes are all locked in, there's no change."

She said that arrivals will be eased for Americans with the upcoming expansion of the ePassport program. Starting next month, citizens of the U.S. as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea will be exempt from the landing card requirement, "which is going to make access so much faster," she said.

VisitBritain's "I Travel For..." campaign has presented opportunities to showcase lesser-visited destinations. Pictured, one of the prehistoric stone circles at Machrie Moor on Scotland's Isle of Arran.
VisitBritain's "I Travel For..." campaign has presented opportunities to showcase lesser-visited destinations. Pictured, one of the prehistoric stone circles at Machrie Moor on Scotland's Isle of Arran. Photo Credit: Eric Moya

Balcombe also said that if Brexit spurs a decline in arrivals from Europe, VisitBritain will redouble its promotional efforts in the U.S.

Those promotional efforts would reinforce VisitBritain's "I Travel For..." campaign. Launched last year, the campaign focuses on appealing to travelers' motivations to visit, whether it's for food and drink, adventure, culture or some other interest.

Balcombe said the campaign has presented opportunities to showcase lesser-visited destinations as well as attractions beyond the country's iconic sights. "We know we've got great castles, we've got royalty, we've got a new royal baby, but what we want say is, 'We've got all that plus a lot more,'" she said.

The VisitBritain survey data, released in March, were discussed during a presentation for media attending the ExploreGB conference, which drew about 600 buyers and suppliers to Harrogate, a city in England's North Yorkshire county.

Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI