VisitBritain to target youth, families

Maddison ... selling Britain

A ten-strong travel trade delegation from Britain will visit the UAE from September 25 to 28 on a four-day sales visit organised by VisitBritain and Gulf Air to conduct a number of roadshows and workshops for the travel trade in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

Carol Maddison, VisitBritain’s regional marketing manager for the Middle East, told TTN that organisations set to attend include Visit Scotland and the Glasgow Tourist Board, in a bid to inform agents about the diversity of the British tourist product. “London accounts for 85 per cent of visitors going to Britain. We’re trying to encourage more people to go beyond. Although it’s a small island, Britain is very diverse – surfing, cycling, mountains, trains, youth, families, big cities, it’s all available.”
The visits are a way of bringing Britain specifically to the UAE and Saudi Arabia and to the entire Middle East region. By November, VisitBritain will have a call centre in the UAE and virtual offices throughout the GCC. The authority’s newly-revamped website,, allows online visitors to make travel plans and plot itineraries, besides disseminating information on accommodation and other tourist information. “Booking trends show that a lot of people are looking online but are booking with agents,” said Maddison. While the Middle East remains one of Britain’s top source markets, with over 425,000 visitors recorded in 2003, spending a total of 800 million pounds, making it one of the most valuable markets, too.
Those numbers have increased three per cent between January and June 2004, fed partly at least by increased airline connections from the Gulf, including new flights from Etihad, Gulf Air, Emirates and Qatar Airways. Within the broader Middle East region, VisitBritain is aiming both at Arabs and expatriates.
“Our target segments include the youth, families, and people interested in spas and wellness products,” said Maddison. Fifty  per cent of the population of the Middle East is under 16 and particularly in Arab communities, a family can mean a group of 30 people. “At last count, we had 30,000 spa-related health products in Britain,” she said. Also being promoted are options that synergise British and European tourism products, said Maddison.