Monday 09 December 2013

A new study reveals that the desire of international visitors to experience Britain’s countryside and heritage is stronger than ever. But as we look forward to the New Year, other less traditional or new activities such as a night out in Newcastle, looking out over London from the Shard and a trip to the Harry Potter Studios are growing in popularity.

When VisitBritain offered 10,000 potential visitors (in 2013) from 19 countries a pre-defined list of 18 ‘only in Britain’ dream activities, respondents were most inclined to go for a top three of ‘Buckingham Palace, ‘viewing London from the Shard or London Eye’ and visiting ‘Edinburgh Castle’.

Visitors from most of Britain’s major inbound markets ranked Buckingham Palace first including the Americans, Russians and Chinese. Catching a panoramic view from the top of the Shard or the London Eye was second choice for one of our fastest growing markets, South Korea, a country witnessing 45% inbound growth so far in 2013 (January to September). Visiting Edinburgh Castle was particularly appealing to those in our established markets of USA, Canada, Australia and Italy who placed it second.

The desire to visit Chatsworth House and its expansive gardens was particularly common in markets where TV shows such as Downton Abbey are shown. The results reveal a desire to visit Britain’s built heritage across the country and all year round by those in China, Russia, USA and Canada.

Eating fish and chips tends to split opinion across all markets. The Indians rank it as their lowest ‘dream activity’ and the Argentinians, Chinese, Mexicans and Polish all place it second to last. However, enjoying some fresh fish and chips by the sea is immensely desirable for Americans and Canadians, who rank it as their third highest ‘dream activity’ with the Australians not far behind, ranking it fourth.

The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, along with VisitBritain’s marketing of Britain as a destination with attractive natural scenic beauty, seems to have changed perceptions of Britain’s countryside. All countryside- based ‘dream activities’ attractions, such as the Lake District, the Scottish Highlands and Snowdonia, were ranked highly by respondents. Post-Games research also suggests that 75% of tourists agreed Britain has plenty of interesting places to visit outside London, and the results of our GREAT image campaign showed that our advertising equally inspired people to want to visit London and the rest of Britain. Results from the latest Nations Brand Index (June 2013) have seen Britain reach the top 20 in the world for being ‘rich in natural beauty’ for the very first time.

The influence of film tourism and sporting events on visitor numbers is becoming more evident, particularly in motivating travel from those who are yet to decide on a destination. The largest grossing Bond film, SkyFall, featured Scotland’s scenic beauty and this is now reflected in the strong desire for the world to want to visit the area. Our largest source market, the French, position ‘wildlife spotting in the Scottish Highlands’ as their number one ‘dream’ activity, with Argentina, Germany and Poland ranking it second and Russians placing it third. Another tourist attraction with an obvious connection to film is the Harry Potter Studio Tour, which has now become a top ten ‘dream’ attraction for the French, Japanese, Mexicans and South Koreans.

Usually less positive when it comes to British food, the French rank eating in a ‘cosy Welsh pub’ as a top three ‘dream’ activity, pointing toward a gradual change in attitudes. Argentinians are the party seekers, with the highest propensity of all markets to want a night out in Newcastle, followed closely by the Swedes.

The Swedes have decided to buck the general market trend in this new research from Britain’s national tourism agency. The top four ‘dream’ activities for most markets sit towards the bottom for Swedish visitors (such as Buckingham Palace). The highest ranked ‘dream’ activity for the Swedes would be dinner in a cosy Welsh pub, followed by shopping on Oxford Street and watching a musical in London’s West End.

Unsurprisingly and following general visitor trends, 22% of men across all markets chose watching a football match as a dream activity (behind only Buckingham Palace) and 21% of women want to shop on Oxford Street (again only behind Buckingham Palace).

Long haul and emerging markets have a tendency to stick to London attractions, whereas the more mature tourism markets such as Italy, Germany and France want to explore and venture out across the country with their choice activities.

Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain said: “Britain is a tourism destination that offers experiences for every taste. Where else in the world can you watch a top-flight Premier League game in the same afternoon as a tour around a quaint Cotswold village? From visiting Edinburgh Castle or dinner in a cosy Welsh pub to a tour of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts followed by a night on the tiles in Newcastle - we have something for the world to enjoy.

“Our mixture of new culture and old heritage combines seamlessly to offer a unique experience which is envied across the world and currently enjoyed in record numbers.”

For more information contact:

VisitBritain Media Team


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View from the top of the Victoria Tower Westminster, London, London, England. ©VisitBritain – James McCormick