VisitBritain has launched a new advertising campaign to try to capitalise on London 2012 as official figures show that fewer people visited the UK during the Olympics than in a normal year.
BAA said traffic through its five UK airports in August was down 2% on last year, including a fall of 1.9% at Heathrow to 6.5m passengers. The reduction was more pronounced in the first two weeks of August, when traffic was down 4.6%. In the rest of the month traffic was up 0.3%.
“This suggests a continuation of the ‘Olympic effect’ reported in July, with UK passengers staying at home as well as non-Olympic visitors from overseas choosing to defer their journeys,” said BAA.
However, VisitBritain said the UK’s image around the world was “riding high” and the tourism body is aiming to convert worldwide interest in the the UK into visitor numbers. A new ‘Memories are GREAT’ TV ad will include footage from the Olympics opening ceremony and a print ad will run for the next seven months in National Geographic and Time Out.
The TV ad will be position on leading consumer websites across the world, said Visit Britain.
In partnership with British Airways, £5m will be invested in the US, India, China, Japan and the Middle East, encouraging people to come to Britain for their Christmas shopping and the January sales.
BA will be offering discounted flights to support the campaign.
To help capture the youth market VisitBritain has partnered with STA Travel and is working within their retail outlets and university campuses to promote Britain for music, culture and shopping. A digital campaign will also be rolled out with Expedia in the key markets of France, Germany and Italy. A shopping campaign with Virgin Australia is also underway, with a mixture of digital, radio, print and trade advertising.
Laurence Bresh, director of marketing at VisitBritain said: “The main event may be over, but the hard work begins now.
“Britain’s image and reputation around the world is riding high, this next stage of our GREAT campaign aims to convert worldwide interest into increased bookings. We’ve captured the world’s imagination on TV screens over the last few weeks, and now is the time to inspire them to come to Britain.”
During August, the number of Europeans travelling to Heathrow fell across the board, although visits from North America were up 3% on last year and traffic from Brazil and China increase 9.5% and 4.1% respectively. India was down 8.7%.
BAA said overall, passenger traffic at Heathrow in July and August had been lower than originally expected and the shortfall is not expected to be recovered later in the year.
At Stansted passenger numbers were down 5.2% compared with August 2011, whilst traffic through Southampton declined 6.4%. Traffic through Aberdeen was up 9.2% and at Glasgow up 3.1%, resulting in a total increase at the Scottish airports of 4.9%.
BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said: “We are proud of Heathrow’s performance during London 2012, and warmly thank the volunteers, our own staff and the many other organisations who planned and delivered a warm and efficient welcome to Great Britain.
“We intend to combine the best of the Games experience with Heathrow’s on-going investment programme to steadily improve the airport for our passengers and airlines.”