Travel industry professionals from across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries recently joined a flagship showcase event in London held by Britain’s national tourism agency, VisitBritain, followed by a five-day hosted educational visit across the ‘Great West Way’ in England.
Seven leading outbound travel professionals from Saudia Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait joined VisitBritain’s ‘Showcase Britain 2024’ event, meeting with British tourism suppliers for a day of networking, hearing about the latest products, experiences, hospitality and accommodation in Britain.
During their time in London, the GCC delegation stayed at the esteemed Biltmore Mayfair and explored with smallcarBIGCITY, seeing the city’s icons and unexpected hidden gems, with dinner with a birds-eye view in London’s tallest building The Shard.
The GCC trade delegation then headed off on a tailored educational visit, from January 27 to February 1, along England’s Great West Way, a touring route stretching from London to Bristol. Steeped in history with breathtaking landscapes, the Great West Way itinerary showcased the region’s cultural richness, history, natural beauty and landscapes with highlights including Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle, a scenic Henley-on-Thames River Cruise, picturesque Castle Combe in The Cotswolds, and Ascot, renowned for the Royal Ascot Races. The trade buyers also visited the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bath, renowned for its natural hot springs and Georgian architectural grandeur and explored the vibrant tapestry of Bristol, a UNESCO Creative City of Film, also visiting attractions, businesses and experiences along the way from making chocolate at Dr Chocs Chocolate Factory in Windsor and afternoon tea at The Bridge Tea Rooms in Bradford-on-Avon, to marveling at the historic Roman Baths in Bath and the SS Great Britain in Bristol.
VisitBritain’s Deputy Director APMEA CNEA Carol Maddison said: “We were delighted to showcase Britain’s outstanding destinations, tourism products and experiences to buyers from the GCC as part of our Showcase Britain event to broaden travel itineraries and drive bookings. From the beauty of our countryside, the vibrancy of our cities and cultural attractions to our world-class dining and accommodation, our GCC buyers have been experiencing first-hand the quality of our tourism offer, alongside the warmest of British welcomes.
“The Great West Way is a fantastic example of an ideal regional add-on to a London city stay, a journey packed with travel motivators for visitors from the Gulf, highlighting just how many of these diverse experiences are within just a few hours from London. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors from the GCC to experience Britain’s vibrant and dynamic tourism offer.”
VisitBritain research shows there is a keen interest from GCC travelers to experience Britain’s quintessential countryside and coastal destinations, alongside its history, stately homes and gardens, first class hospitality experiences and world-class events. Its research also shows that visitors from the Gulf are keen to roam around, visiting multiple destination types on their next international trip.
VisitBritain’s showcase event was also timely with the rollout of the Electronic Travel Authorisation Scheme (ETA) to more Gulf nationals making travel to the UK easier, cheaper and more accessible for them. Combined with the region’s strong airline connections, the ETA scheme boosts the UK’s competitive tourism offer and welcome to visitors from the Gulf.
VisitBritain’s GREAT Britain marketing campaigns are underway across the GCC to showcase the breadth of exciting experiences and destinations to inspire travel to Britain. VisitBritain is also working with travel trade and partners in the Gulf, including Wego and dnata, so British destinations are sold internationally and to drive bookings now.
The GCC is a very important visitor market for Britain. VisitBritain is forecasting 1.2 million visits from the GCC to the UK in 2024 with those visitors spending £3 billion on their trips, up 16% on 2019.