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2009 could be a real tipping point for British tourism

British tourism gets ready to welcome G20 delegates

As the United Nations World Tourism Organisation urges G20 nations to put tourism and travel at the centre of the London summit plans to revive the global economy, the UK’s national tourism agency, VisitBritain, is reiterating the value of Britain’s £114 billion visitor economy in supporting businesses and creating jobs.

The Group of Twenty (G-20) industrial and emerging-market countries represented at the London Summit collectively contribute almost £9.5 billion towards Britain’s total £16 billion inbound visitor economy. Twelve countries are currently among Britain’s top 20 best performing tourism markets, while 17 of the 20 are being actively targeted as amongst the country’s best future tourism prospects.

Sandie Dawe, deputy chief executive at VisitBritain, says: “2009 could be a real tipping point for British tourism and this is a key opportunity for us to capture the imagination of the world’s travellers. We want to inspire the G20’s leaders with our heritage sites and historic buildings, our stunning countryside and cinematic landscapes or contemporary cities, as well as the events and quintessentially British, cultural experiences that make us unique.

“London is an extremely good choice of location for the Summit as most of the world leaders will find visiting Britain considerably more affordable than they would have done a year ago, with exchange rate movements making the pound worth up to one-third less against local currencies in some markets.”

To illustrate the appeals of its tourism industry, VisitBritain has produced some travel suggestions for the G20 delegates when they arrive in London this week. The information is based on the organisation’s latest research into the tourism choices of visitors from the G20 countries, listing the top things that their leaders might enjoy in Britain if they had more time.

With ever-increasing competition for the world’s travellers, VisitBritain wants to cement Britain’s position among the world’s leading destinations and, as the leaders of major countries arrive in London, it aims to draw attention to the nation’s appeals. VisitBritain has come up with a list of suggestions for G20 delegates that includes:

Americans: Stratford will be a big draw with the opening of the new visitor centre at Shakespeare’s Birthplace, but reports would indicate the President and First Lady should be heading instead to Great Shelford near Cambridge, or Sutton-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, both of which, according to New England researchers, have links with the President’s ancestors.
Argentineans: the hot new Italian is Bocca di Lupo, with main meals from £8; while Locanda Locatelli retains its great reputation and Michelin star.
Australians: spoilt for choice with nearly 55,000 pubs and in the Docklands area alone try historic pubs such as the Prospect of Whitby at Wapping, and the Gun (once frequented by Lord Nelson and his mistress Emma Hamilton).
Brazilians: the variety of shopping options are endless, whether it be the ever popular Portobello Road market on Saturdays, or nearby individual clothing and design shops of Notting Hill (open all week) or the newly opened Westfield Centre.  Selfridges is also a hot contender for their time, celebrating its centenary this year.
Canadians: a visit to Down House, in Kent, home of Darwin and with a new exhibition to mark the 200th anniversary year of his birth and 150th of the publication of The Origin of Species
Chinese: A stadium tour of one of the two London-based “Big Four” English Premier League teams – Arsenal or Chelsea – will satisfy the increasing interest in top-flight English football.
Czechs: From ExCel, in London, it is just a short journey to the 02 where he/she can check out the new British Music Experience, or even take in a concert in the 02 Arena, or more intimate Indigo  – the 02 has quickly become one of the top concert venues in the world, in terms of sales and big names – Simply Red are performing there on Thursday and Friday (2nd and 3rd April) and Lionel Richie at the weekend
French: A visit to one of London’s top new restaurants might help to chip away at the misconceptions of food in Britain – perhaps Corrigan’s Mayfair in the West End, or design guru Terence Conran’s new Boundary restaurant and Albion Caff in the East End.
Germans: for serious walking, Cornwall is an ever popular destination for German visitors, and its cliffs and coastline a great place to ramble.
Indians: although a month or so too early for a season which includes a Test against the West Indies, the ICC Twenty20 competition and the Ashes, they won’t want to miss out on a visit and tour of Lord’s.  The ground is known as “the Home of Cricket” and its owner, the MCC, as the guardian of the Laws and Spirit of Cricket.
Italians: take in the distinctive Charles Rennie Mackintosh art and design, or the contemporary art of the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art, the second most visited contemporary art gallery outside London.  All Glasgow’s museums and galleries are free so that should please an Italian seeking value for money.
Japanese: The Cotswolds are ever popular for Japanese visitors with their beautiful villages and outstanding gardens, and they may wish to extend their visit with a trip to Bath, a World Heritage Site.
Mexicans: spend some time in Soho, with its great nightlife, and late opening restaurants and bars.
Netherlands: if – like half Dutch visitors to the UK – their preference is to travel out of London and explore the rest of the country, they might prefer to try out one of Jamie Oliver’s new Italian restaurants in Bath, Oxford or Brighton.
South Koreans: visit Lincolnshire and Derbyshire which have been popular film locations such as Pride and Prejudice, the Da Vinci Code and The Duchess. Bath has also featured in the books and films of Jane Austen, and Koreans can also follow up their love of wellbeing with a visit to the Thermae Bath Spa
Russians: a trip on the London Eye gives an overview of the iconic landmarks, but with the Russians’ love of fashion and luxury, they may wish to do it in style, with champagne and canapes, or if accompanied, even the Beauty Capsule girls’ night out package, introduced in March:  take up to 14 friends with you, and be pampered by make up artists in 1950s gear
South Africans: Swan Lake is all over Britain this year, performed by the American Ballet Theatre at the London Coliseum, by the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House, Mariinsky’s Swan Lake coming to Covent Garden in the summer, and Matthew Bourne’s at Sadler’s Wells for Christmas.
Spanish: Brighton is always a good choice – they are a month too early to take part in the Brighton Festival (2-24 May) but the Sussex city is always buzzing at any time of year.

The G20 London Summit follows another successful British Tourism Week and the official start of British Summer Time as the clocks go forward an hour and visitors look for inspiration on where and how to spend their longer, lighter evenings. Britain’s calendar of major – and internationally appealing – sporting events also kicks off with the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race followed by at least one a month through the summer including the Grand National (2 Apr), London Marathon (26 Apr), FA Cup Final (30 May), Royal Ascot (16 Jun), Wimbledon (22 Jun), Henley Royal Regatta (1 Jul) and Cowes Week (1 Aug).

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