VisitBritain Partners with British Airways for The Big British Invite

VisitBritain, the official tourism website for Great Britain, is partnering with British Airways, a UK-based airline company, as part of its marketing strategy following the 2012 London Olympics.

The agency has budgeted for a marketing expenditure of GBP13.5 million by partnering with airlines, hotel companies and tour operators, to offer bargains for overseas travellers.

In its new phase, the campaign will be offering advertising aimed at travellers in the US, India, China, Japan and the Middle East. The agency will be investing GBP5m in its partnership with British Airways to persuade travellers to visit Britain for Christmas shopping and to avail of the January sales, with a special offer from British Airways. The campaign is running from now until March 2013.

The agency has also announced a shopping campaign with Virgin Australia, with a combination of digital, radio, print and trade advertising.

The ‘The Big British Invite’ campaign features British people inviting tourists to visit Britain for its scenery and experiences. The ambassadors for the campaign include Alan Kingshott, chief yeoman warder of the Tower of London, and Ed Burstell, managing director of Liberty’s.

Christopher Rodrigues, the chairman of VisitBritain, said, ‘This summer has shown what the country can do when we are united in a common cause. This country showed passion, professionalism, drive and energy to stage the best ever Olympic and Paralympic Games. The test now is whether we can maintain this to create wealth and jobs through a major tourism drive.

This consultation with the industry, the public agencies and multiple Government departments that care about tourism and impact on its success has been designed to identify shared priorities and potential partnerships. International tourism is a growth industry but the global marketplace is getting tougher as other countries have recognised the potential of the sector. Britain can succeed if we focus – aligning priorities, investment and activity.

Tourism is the industry that can deliver the economic legacy of the 2012 Games. It is an industry that can deliver jobs quickly – right across Britain and at all skills levels – and much needed economic growth. Every GBP40,000 spent by overseas visitors to Britain can create a new job. International tourism is our third-largest earner of foreign exchange and contributed GBP3.1 billion to the nation’s coffers directly in taxation in 2011.’


British Airways Announces Update for its Service to Australia

British Airways, a UK-based airline, will be flying its new Boeing 777-300 ER on its route to Sydney, Australia, from London, UK.

The airline had recently ended its joint venture with Australia-based Qantas Airline, putting doubt on its plans for flying to Australian destinations. The joint venture ends on March 31, 2013.

The airline is also in the process of moving its Sydney services from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport from March 31, 2013, for flights that will be operated by the Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft, featuring First, Club World, World Traveller Plus and economy cabins.

The aircraft is equipped with a new in-flight entertainment system, with a library that has 50 percent more movies and an extended range of TV and music options for customers travelling on long flights.

Passengers flying to and from Singapore will also be affected by the move from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5, as the new aircraft will be flying to Sydney via Singapore.

Jamie Cassidy, the airline area general manager for Asia Pacific, said, ‘This move confirms British Airways’ commitment to Australia.

It’s an important part of our network and we’re underlining that by putting our newest aircraft and cabins on the Sydney route and moving the flight to Terminal 5, to sit alongside the majority of our other services.’

Earlier the UK based airline had announced a partnership with Japan Airlines (JAL) for services between Europe and Japan. The two airlines will be combining their operations and introducing a revenue sharing model to operate on the routes.

The joint operations have been effective since October 1, 2012, and claim to offer more connectivity between Europe and Japan, a wider range of flight options for passengers, and enhanced frequent flyer benefits. The joint operation will be venturing into more routes soon.


Amsterdam mayor rejects plea to implement cannabis ban for foreign tourists

The mayor of Amsterdam has rejected a plea to ban foreign tourists from using cannabis cafes, following the implementation of new drug rules.

The mayor said that foreign tourists would be allowed to use the city’s famous cannabis cafes. The decision came after months of arguments over new drug laws. The government of the Netherlands had said that it was up to the local authorities to decide whether foreign tourists were to be banned or not.

Taking his stance on the issue, Mayor Eberhard van der Laan said that banning the sale of the drug to foreigners would encourage more crime in the city. It is believed that each year, about 1.5 million tourists visit Amsterdam to partake of cannabis at its cafes and parlours.

Van der Laan said, ‘The 1.5 million tourists will not say ‘then no more marijuana’, they will swarm all over the city looking for drugs. This would lead to more robberies, quarrels about fake drugs, and no control of the quality of drugs on the market – everything we have worked towards would be lost to misery.’

Tourism operators have warmly welcomed the decision, as the nation relies heavily on tourism, and cannabis users make up about a third of the total visitors to the city. Even though such users help local tourism, the government was worried that it would increase drug use and encourage drug dealers to procure drugs that could be sold abroad.

Under new laws that were introduced by the previous conservative-led government, a ban on foreigners using cannabis was due to be enforced in Amsterdam by the end of this year.

It is believed that there are about 700 coffee shops selling cannabis in the Netherlands.


Clark Freeport to promote ghost tourism

Authorities in Clark Freeport, Philippines, are planning to convert a former US military base into a tourist destination for those seeking encounters with ghosts.

Reports of ghost sightings and certain unexplained events have earned the base a reputation for being haunted. In addition, it has been the setting for many violent deaths, and locals believe that spirits still roam the area. With its popularity rising as a ghost-tourism destination, Clark Freeport officials are now looking to cash in on the publicity and develop the area even more for its tourist potential.

The base has all the elements to provide the eerie ambience that is essential for ghost tourism. An old abandoned hospital, a group of pine trees known as Tres Marias, the Lily Hill and the old cemetery add a level of spookiness to the place. These sites are reputed to be among the most haunted in Clark Freeport, where the American cavalry forces were first stationed in 1901. During World War II, many American and Japanese soldiers died there.

Guy Hilbero, Mabalacat City tourism chief, said that tourists visit the site hoping to see ghosts and to soak up the numerous macabre stories that abound. At certain times of the year, such as All Saints Day, the venue becomes even more popular.

Hilbero said that a former site of an old cemetery within the grounds of the Mimosa Leisure Estate was one of the most haunted places on the site. The abandoned US military hospital near the commercial area is also believed to be haunted, and has already been visited by American ghost hunters who featured the story on a US television show. The hospital’s basement was used as a morgue for American soldiers killed during the Vietnam War before they were flown back to the US.

Hilbero also said that the Tres Marias, three pine trees, is a site where unexplained motor accidents happen regularly. The Lily Hill was the scene of a bloody firefight between Japanese and Americans during World War II, and people claim to have witnessed unusual activities there, which they attribute to spirits.


Bahamas to attract bird watchers

The tourism department in the Bahamas has launched a plan to encourage bird watching under its birding tourism development plan.

The Sustainable Tourism Unit is supporting the initiative, with the assistance of Small Planet Consulting. Bahamas, which places a great deal of emphasis on preserving its natural environment and natural assets, has taken many steps in order to protect them, and is one of the first countries in the world to establish a Sustainable Tourism Unit (STU), which initiated the development of the Bahamas Sustainable Tourism Development policy guidelines. It has 26 national parks that occupy more than 700,000 acres of protected marine and land area.

The nation is one of the destinations of choice for seasoned ornithologists, as well as for novices who are just starting to watch birds in their natural environments. The Bahamas is believed to have 340 bird species, including about 110 species that breed in the country. Approximately 170 species are migrant birds that visit the nation from other regions and in different seasons. There are also about 50 rarely occurring vagrant species, and 28 species that are not seen in the US, Canada or Europe.

The tourism department had previously developed a fully accredited birding tour guide course, and in 2011 it developed a birding tourism development plan.

Dr Rick Wright, a US birding tourism professional and a former editor of the American Birding Association’s ‘Winging It’ monthly newsletter, said, ‘Everywhere you look there are birds, and birds in a wondrous combination of the familiar and the exotic and new. But best of all, there are birders to show them to you and to enjoy them with you. I can’t imagine a better place to spend a couple of weeks than The Bahamas.’