LOS ANGELES In the wake of foot-and-mouth disease, the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks and a decline in U.S. visitors from 4 million in
2000 to 3.5 million in 2001, according to a British Tourist
Authority official the British government and tourism officials are
optimistic they will reap the rewards of the most ambitious joint
ad campaign in the country’s history.
The Only in Britain, Only in 2002 campaign is the product of a
combined investment of $35 million from the U.K. Government and
partners from the tourism industry such as American Express,
British Airways and Hilton Hotels. The campaign consists of such
elements as a Web site (www.britain2002. org), print advertising,
direct marketing, public relations, travel agent participation and
TV commercials that were launched in the United States in May.
Dr. Kim Howells, Britain’s minister of tourism, told TravelAge
West that retailers play a key role in bringing visitors back to
Britain: “People want reassurance and comfort, and they can only
get that from a travel agent.”
One way the BTA is reaching out to travel agents is by
encouraging travelers to book through them. Robin Prestage, a BTA
spokesman noted that all advertising for the Only in Britain, Only
in 2002 campaign directs consumers to the Web site for more
information but also recommends that they ultimately contact their
travel agents. The Web site does not allow for direct booking.
“The last thing you see on the ad is the Web site, and [the
qualifier] is ‘See your travel agent,’” Prestage said.
A new incentive for agents is the recently launched, online
version of the BritAgent Destination Specialist Program, which
certifies them as specialists in selling travel to England,
Scotland and Wales. Upon completion of the training program, agents
are provided with instant access to accurate information,
up-to-the-minute vacation ideas and sales collateral. Benefits
include a free, 12-month, subscription to the BTA’s In Britain
magazine, unlimited promotional postcards and a monthly newsletter.
In addition, the annual fee for the program has been reduced from
$200 to $75.
The BTA is also working to form an advisory group that will
include travel industry specialists, “the bulk of which will be
travel agents,” said Christine Braganza, the BTA’s Los
Angeles-based director of marketing for the western region.