London and two of Britain's largest cities joined forces Tuesday to jointly promote English tourism in China, India and the Gulf region.
The partnership, which will see the British capital, Birmingham and Manchester collaborate on tourism for the first time with a focus on increasing the number of visitors arriving in one city and then travelling across the different regions.
The target areas are seen as three of the world's fastest growing markets.
CHINESE VISITOR NUMBERS SOARING
In 2016, London welcomed 165,000 Chinese visitors, a 105 percent increase on 2011. According to the Tourism Vision for London report, Chinese visitors to the capital are expected to increase by 103 percent by 2025. In the same period, visitor spend from China is also expected to go up by 129 percent.
The project, called "Experience England" is being led by London & Partners, the Mayor of London's official promotional agency. The campaign is being backed by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, Birmingham mayor Andy Street and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.
It will be financed by a 1.7 million U.S. dollar grant as part of a number of successful projects to receive funding from a 56 million U.S. dollar fund administered by VisitEngland designed to ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing tourism industry.
A spokesperson for London & Partners said: "The project will create and promote a new England tourism experience, making it easy for customers from China, India and the GCC (Gulf region) to visit the great cities of London, Manchester and Birmingham, and then go on to explore the beautiful English countryside and villages.
"Our research shows that fewer than a third of visitors staying overnight in the capital go on to stay overnight elsewhere in the country. Yet the same research shows that levels of visitor satisfaction increase significantly when people do visit other destinations."
TOURISM VITAL FOR MAJOR CITIES
London mayor Khan said: "London is home to the 10 most popular tourist attractions in the UK and we're proud to welcome millions of visitors every year. But it's important that they have the chance to see what's on offer in other parts of the country too and I'm committed to working with other cities and regions to use the capital's reputation to drive tourism across the nation."
Birmingham Mayor Andy Street, said: "By working in partnership with locations across the UK, this project will highlight how seamless exploring the full breadth of the UK's leisure offering can be".
Manchester's mayor Burnham, said: "Greater Manchester is not only a vibrant, exciting region but it is also a gateway to explore the north of England, including places such as the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, the Peak District and so much more."
Sally Balcombe, CEO at VisitEngland, said: "It's great to see the innovative way this project is getting visitors exploring the country and twin-center holidays will make more of England accessible. The tourism and hospitality sector is a vital, and growing industry for major cities. In the UK tourism makes up 9 percent of GDP. In London, the figure is higher at 11.6 percent."