Scotland Promotes Tourism With Disney Film

Scotland has spent £7m on a tourism campaign to coincide with the release of Disney Pixar film, Brave.

The animated film, which is set in the Scottish Highlands, follows the journey of the headstrong central character, Merida, who is an accomplished archer and the daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. It features the voices of several well-known Scottish actors, including Robbie Coltrane, Billy Connolly, Craig Ferguson and Kelly MacDonald, who were in attendance at the film’s premiere in Los Angeles.

Scottish officials hope that the film’s worldwide release will attract more visitors to the country, and the £7m tourism campaign is intended to capitalise on its depiction of the country by reaching as many as 80 million people around the globe.

Mike Cantlay, the chairman of Scotland’s national tourism body, VisitScotland, said that with the film being shown in 72 countries worldwide it represented ‘a great opportunity for Scottish tourism.’ He added, ‘The pictures are stunning and America’s going daft for this movie. The first thing I saw when I flew into Los Angeles was a great big billboard for Brave and we hadn’t even landed. I think the really special thing is how the Scottish character is depicted and the acting talent have done such a wonderful job to explore that.’

Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, also attended the Los Angeles premiere and commented, ‘This is a fantastic film, it’s great fun and a terrific showcase for Scotland across the world. It features an incredibly talented cast – many of them Scots themselves. Millions of people are going to see Brave and they’re going to see for themselves an animated vision of our beautiful country. To make the most of that, VisitScotland is launching its biggest ever worldwide tourism campaign and the Scottish economy can look forward to a boost of around GBP140 million.’

The campaign will be targeted at a number of countries including France and Germany, and will involve TV and cinema adverts, a new website and other marketing initiatives.

The film can be seen in UK cinemas in August, following its European premiere on the closing night of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Travellers Told ‘Complain to Your MP About Rise In Air Passenger Duty’

An alliance of more than 30 airlines and tour operators is encouraging travellers to complain to their MP’s about increases in Air Passenger Duty.

The alliance, calling itself ‘A Fair Tax on Flying,’ is also intending to create a list of at least 100,000 signatures of travellers that are disgruntled by the tax increases, which have seen APD rise by 360 percent in the last 7 years. Depending on distances travelled, APD can now add as much as £368 to the flight cost for a family of four, which the alliance say can deter British holidaymakers from travelling abroad and foreign visitors from visiting the UK. Taxes for premium seat passengers can double.

The alliance claims that, ‘Only five European countries tax passengers when they fly overseas and UK rates are twice the level of the next most expensive tax (which is in Germany). A Fair Tax on Flying campaign has calculated that the Treasury collected more than twice as much in passenger taxes in 2011 than the all other European countries that levy a tax combined.’

By visiting www.afairtaxonflying.org and registering their personal details, complainants can have a letter sent in their name to their local MP. It is claimed that in excess of 1,000 people supported the campaign in its first day. The letter reads, ‘Many other European countries, including Holland, Denmark and Belgium, have scrapped their APD because of the impact it was having on families and the wider economy. I ask that you write to the Chancellor to request that the Treasury undertakes research to determine the impact of APD on UK holidaymakers, employment and economic growth.’

The alliance, which includes British Airways, TUI Travel, the British Airline Pilot’s Association and many more major names in the travel industry, has launched a Facebook page to support the campaign at www.Facebook.com/afairtaxonflying.

Ticket Payment By Mobile Popular With Passengers

A large percentage of Airline passengers are keen to pay for their airline tickets using mobile devices, according to the results of a study that have just been released.

The Perfect Passenger Payment report, which was undertaken by WorldPay, a payment processing company that provides payment services for mail order, Internet retailers and point of sale transactions, involved 4,500 global consumers who had purchased an airline ticket online in the past twelve months. The views of 50 airline merchants were also included in the study.

Key to the report’s findings was the fact that 50 percent of those consumers questioned would use a mobile device to purchase airline tickets now if the service were available, and 62 percent expect to have the option of doing so in the future. 6 percent had already used a mobile device to book a ticket. Figures that are not surprising considering that 56 percent of consumers already carry a smartphone or tablet device.

With regards to consumers being presented with hidden surcharges during the payment process that were not explained from the beginning, the UK fared worst with 41 percent of respondents here having experienced this problem, compared to only 8 percent in Japan, the country that fared best.

Continuing the theme of fairness, 80 percent of consumers considered it unfair to be charged for using their preferred payment method, including 87 percent that favour e-wallets, 86 percent that favour direct debits, and 84 percent that favour debit cards.

The time-conscious might like to know that the average customer takes 25 minutes to complete the payment process for an airline ticket, with a sizeable twelve-minute variation between the Japanese who were fastest at 20 minutes, and the Brazilians who were the slowest at 32 minutes.

Phil McGriskin, chief product officer at WorldPay commented, ‘Consumers are increasingly embracing technology such as smartphones and tablets to purchase goods and services online and this report shows that there is a demand for among customers to be able to purchase airline tickets using mobile technology. Currently only a small percentage of airlines offer mobile payments to their customers but a high percentage of customers, particularly frequent flyers, would like the option to be made available. As more airlines embrace mobile technology for other parts of the airport-to-flight experience, we expect this to be extended to the payment process.’

BA Say ‘Don’t Fly’ for London Olympics

British Airways, a UK-based air carrier, has launched an offbeat promotional campaign for the London 2012 Olympics, under the heading, ‘Don’t Fly. Support Team GB’.

The airline described the campaign heading as ‘tongue-in-cheek’, while saying that it was intended to encourage Britons to stay in the country during the Olympic and Paralympic games to support their team. It also stated that the campaign is linked to research that indicated the benefit of home advantage for athletes that perform on home soil.

However, the outbound industry, which has already been angered by a recent British government-funded domestic tourism campaign that was headed, ‘Why Would You Want To Go Abroad?’ is likely to be further displeased by this latest discouragement, despite the fact that it has been initiated by one of their own.

British Airways launched the campaign on Facebook at 11.00am today, and a new TV advert will be aired during tonight’s televised European Championship football match between England and Ukraine. The advert, backed by the soundtrack of ‘London Calling’ by the Clash, shows a BA aircraft taxiing through the streets of London, and when it reaches the Olympic park, the tagline, ‘Don’t Fly. Support Team GB and ParalympicsGB’, appears on screen.

The TV advertising will be supported by advertising in national newspapers, a poster campaign and promotions on social media formats, including Twitter with the hashtag #HomeAdvantage.

Commenting on the promotion, Frank van der Post, BA managing director of brands and customer experience, said, ‘We’re rallying the country to get behind Team GB and ParalympicsGB. That includes delaying your summer holiday. We are encouraging every clap, cheer and whoop we can get.’

Australia Eases Restrictions For British Migrant Workers

British workers that are keen to start a new life in Australia have had their chances of doing so improved by an announcement that the Australian government is ready to ease the country’s immigration requirements.

The Australian government has announced that the current pass mark in its visa application process will be reduced. Such is the need to attract more skilled workers from Britain, that the government is reducing the pass mark from 65 to 60.

The reform will come into place from July 1, as part of a raft of measures designed to improve Australia’s skilled workforce. Another of the measures is the SkillSelect scheme, which will do away with the need for British workers to be sponsored by an Australian employer in order to apply for a visa. Instead, the prospective migrants will have to complete an Expression of Interest, after which they will be assessed on their skills and attributes. Having convinced the authorities of their value, they will be invited to submit a Skilled Visa application.

Paul Arthur, director of migration specialists, the Emigration Group, is reported to have commented, ‘Australia is conducting one of its biggest migration drives in 40 years and the reduction of the pass mark is part of this initiative, which will make it easier for Brits to get a visa to live and work down under.’

Australia has long been a popular destination for British citizens seeking a new challenge and lifestyle overseas, so the added encouragement that this easing of the immigration rules provides, coming at a time when the cloud of recession and austerity hangs over the UK, is likely to inspire even greater numbers to explore the possibilities.