Thursday 29 January 2015

  • Campaign ambition to deliver additional visitor spend of £70 million in three years
  • Regions featured in the first year include the Scottish Highlands, Lake District and Cornwall

The North York Moors, the Scottish Highlands and the Pembrokeshire Coast will soon be competing with the likes of the Bavarian Alps and the Grand Canyon in a new campaign from VisitBritain to grow international visits and spend to Britain’s countryside. The campaign will position Britain’s countryside as a place to enjoy modern culture, top quality food and world-class accommodation in a beautiful landscape, with the story told by third party enthusiasts.

Today VisitBritain launches the three-year ‘Countryside is GREAT’ campaign designed to grow international visits and spend across the country to an invited industry audience, showing how everyone can get involved. VisitBritain’s ambition is to have generated extra visitor spend of £70 million which would see the creation of 1,296 new jobs by 2018.

Britain’s ‘natural beauty’ has been overlooked compared to other international destinations. Britain is currently ranked an overall 20th out of 50 countries for being ‘rich in natural beauty’ in the 2014 Anholt-Gfk Nation Brand Index. In a separate bespoke wave of the study commissioned by VisitBritain, our natural beauty was consistently positioned behind the likes of America, Australia and Canada. However, in the last four years VisitBritain’s GREAT campaign has taken significant strides in boosting perceptions in some of the UK’s key tourism markets. Britain’s highest 2014 ranking for ‘natural beauty’ - fifth place - came from India, followed by ninth place from China and twelfth from Australia. The largest improvement was from Brazil, moving up ten places to 29th in a year.

VisitBritain research shows that a wide range of visitors already enjoy our countryside offer. In 2013 a significant proportion of visitors from New Zealand (43%), Australia (41%), Canada (33%), China (32%), UAE (29%) and Germany (27%) all explored Britain’s countryside and villages.¹

The Countryside is GREAT campaign aims to build on this interest and show potential visitors what is on offer, where to find great experiences and most importantly, how to get there. VisitBritain will feature bespoke, curated countryside itineraries, experiences, services and packages on ‘The Countryside Collection’ campaign website ( and across print media. VisitBritain brand ambassadors will also share their own chronicled countryside experiences, from zip-lining in Wales to champagne cruising on a Scottish loch, or sampling local produce in an award-winning gastro pub after a coastal walk.

The regions featuring in the first year of the campaign are the Scottish Highlands, Peak District, Cotswolds, Cornwall, Pembrokeshire, North Wales, Warwickshire, Lake District and Yorkshire. VisitBritain research shows that the proportion of holidaying tourists likely to take part in countryside-related activities is currently highest amongst those visiting the South West, Wales and Scotland and Yorkshire.²

The first year of ‘Countryside is GREAT’ will focus on visitors from the USA and Germany. A 2013 multi-country study commissioned by VisitBritain shows that beautiful natural landscapes are a very strong motivator for Americans and Germans when choosing holiday destinations – the most important out of 40 attributes for German respondents and the second most important for Americans.³ However, while Britain is the third most popular international travel destination for Americans (after neighbouring Canada and Mexico), 85% of Americans are only visiting cities. In the 2014 Nation Brand Index the US ranked Britain 20th for natural beauty and Germany 19th, highlighting the need for improved perceptions.

To deliver this campaign VisitBritain has joined forces with The National Parks, The Forestry Commission, The Canal and River Trust and Hertz Cars, as well as DCMS, DEFRA and the national tourist boards.

Sally Balcombe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain: “We want to encourage our international visitors to experience more of Britain. Enjoying the beautiful landscape is one of the key drivers for holiday choice for international visitors second only to offering good value for money. Britain has stunning national parks and world heritage sites to rival our competitors but they are currently being overlooked by many of our overseas visitors. Whether it's enjoying a luxury boutique hotel, a sea plane experience or a cookery course, we want to package and sell our countryside to potential tourists so they can envisage the type of experiences they would enjoy in these areas. Our ambition for the campaign is to generate an extra £70 million in international visitor spend over three years.

"Our launch to the British industry is a chance to show how local tourism businesses can get involved with the campaign and help us boost local economies and their own profitability."

Tourism Minister Helen Grant:"We have some of the most outstanding areas of natural beauty in the world and this £3 million Countryside is GREAT campaign will champion rural Britain so that more tourists come and experience it for themselves.

"We are enjoying record tourism growth in the UK but I want us to do all we can to keep up this momentum and encourage people to explore the very best of Britain across the nations and regions, helping to generate more growth and create more jobs as part of our long-term economic plan."

Environment Minister Dan Rogerson said: “From coast to coast, the UK is blessed with natural beauty. Whether it’s the Scottish Highlands, the Pembrokeshire Coast or the cliff tops of Cornwall, we have so much to be proud of and it is fantastic news that the Countryside is GREAT campaign is set to showcase Britain on a worldwide stage.

“We know the rural economy is hugely important to this country. By shining the spotlight on our incredible countryside for the world to see, this campaign should attract more tourists to these beauty spots, boosting local economies even further.”

For more information contact:

VisitBritain Media Team

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