British eccentricity on show to lure tourists


Tourism chiefs are hoping to reverse a sharp drop in visitor numbers with a series of television advertisements emphasising British eccentricity.

The television adverts - which portray a series of traditional British images with a surreal twist - mark a sharp contrast with previous attempts to market the UK as a centre of fashion and youth culture.

The adverts include scenes of knights in armour playing tennis, and a Wellington boot-throwing contest.

In the US, the UK tourism industry's most important overseas market, the adverts will also feature a brief appearance from Tony Blair.

"We wanted to capture the imagination of prospective visitors with a distinctive and humorous reminder of Britain's diversity and cultural heritage," said David Quarmby, chairman of the British Tourist Authority (BTA).

The television campaign is part of a wider promotional effort using the slogan "Only in Britain. Only in 2002".

It marks the biggest ever expenditure on television advertising by the tourist industry, hit hard by the 2001 foot and mouth crisis and the September 11 attacks.

The BTA hopes to attract an extra one million visitors this year, boosting the industry's sales by £500 million ($728 million).