BTA opens new centre for visitors

Shaikh Ahmed opens the new visitor centre.

The British Tourist Authority's (BTA) new Britain Visitor Centre in Dubai has been officially inaugurated by department of civil aviation president and Emirates chairman Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

The opening of the centre in the British Council building was attended by BTA chief executive Jeff Hamblin.

The centre complements the BTA's current activities in the region by providing a wide range of much needed British travel products and services to the travel trade, media and general public.

Hamblin expressed optimism over the growth of traffic from the UAE and added the new centre would help BTA meet the increased demand for information from the UAE.

BTA's general manager for Middle East and Indian Sub-Continent, Mark Miller, said the centre was part of the authority's ongoing promotional drive and represented BTA's commitment to "this very important region".

"With its Arabic and English speaking highly trained travel consultants, this centre will be our flagship within the Middle East and is the first part of our expansion plan around the region which is designed to boost tourism to Britain," said Miller.

"It offers a wide range of free tourism literature and information on Britain, and is set up to handle enquiries from both the media, the travel trade as well as consumers direct.

"The next phase of expansion is already being piloted within Dnata's brand new Airline Centre facility and sees a BTA Virtual Office located on the mezzanine level of the centre.

"Developed by Dnata and BTA, this exciting project has been designed to create more facilities and services within Dnata's cutting edge Airline Centre."

The virtual centre provides an interactive cyber bar to encourage consumers to visit the BTA website and surf among its 80,000 pages of travel information about Britain and choose from more than 1,500 UKOK value-for-money tourism products throughout Britain.

More than 85 travel brochures, including five Arabic language versions, are available with information on all areas of the UK. A 61-inch monitor constantly screens video about tourist destinations and attractions throughout Britain.

UKOK is a multi-million pound international marketing campaign launched by BTA in association with British tourism industry to win overseas visitors back to Britain after the disastrous effects of last year's foot and mouth outbreak and September 11.

The campaign features Britain as the place to visit in 2002, encouraged by millions of pounds' worth of special travel and accommodation offers that make a holiday in Britain better value than ever before.

BTA hopes it will contribute to the recovery of at least half of the £2 billion ($2.87 billion) lost last year by the £13 billion inbound tourism industry.