As Paralympic heroes get set to take the stage this week, new research from VisitBritain suggests that receiving a good welcome is likely to see visitors recommend travelling to the UK to others, with 80% of visitors feeling at least ‘very welcome’ in 2011
VisitBritain sponsored a question on the Civil Aviation Authority’s survey of nearly 9,000 departing overseas visitors. Over the three years the large study was conducted, results show that there has been a steady improvement both in how welcome visitors felt, and in how likely they are to recommend Britain to others. Overall, over one in four visitors felt ‘extremely welcome’ in Britain, an improvement in recent years. It is hoped the remarkable success of the London 2012 Games will help boost this perception even further.
The markets where English is the first language (USA, Australia and Canada) are amongst those feeling most welcome, with almost 40% of Americans reporting to have felt ‘extremely welcome’ during their visit.
The findings also revealed that over 40% of those questioned would be ‘extremely likely’ to recommend visiting Britain for a holiday to their friends and family, up 5% from 2010. With recommendations for travel via family and friends far more influential than any travel brochures, special offers or advertising.
In the spring of 2012 international travellers in 14 cities around the world, including those in Paris, New York, Shanghai and Rio, were asked the extent to which they perceived Britain as being ‘friendly and welcoming’.
By far the highest spenders in the UK, visitors from America were again generally more positive about the British welcome on offer, with one in five Americans interviewed associating Britain as welcoming. The Chinese were equally positive – a good omen as Britain hopes to be able to treble visitor number by 2015.
In comparison, around one in twenty people from established Asian markets in Tokyo and Hong Kong viewed Britain as welcoming, while those in France generally felt the UK was the least hospitable destination for them on their travels.
Those in the influential emerging Indian market view Britain strongly, with those questioned suggesting the UK’s performance is much stronger than the French who are ranked the lowest.
But where do people feel most welcome?
Tourist attractions (22%) and restaurants (21%) were most likely to be the first point mentioned as being most welcoming. Pubs and bars were also popular welcome points with 13 per cent mentioning that they felt welcome there. Shops and accommodation are also mentioned by around a third (32% and 31% respectively), although they are more likely to be mentioned in second or third place after restaurants and tourist attractions.
Patricia Yates, Director of Strategy and Communications at VisitBritain said: “Enhancing the world’s perceptions of a British welcome will help us attract more visitors in the years ahead. The London 2012 Games were a great advertisement for Britain – with the volunteers and the warmth of the welcome being picked up around the world.
“We want to make sure that we continue to be seen as a welcoming destination for our visitors so that they continue to want to come back and recommend us to their friends and family.”