As Britain turns its attention to hosting a number of major events next year, national tourism agency VisitBritain has released its 2012 visitor forecast, revealing that the UK should attract 30.7 million visitors in 2012, spending £17.6 billion in the process.

Commenting on the forecast, Sandie Dawe, VisitBritain’s Chief Executive said:

“While these figures are in line with expected numbers in 2011, maintaining current visitor levels would be a good outcome in a year that is proving difficult to predict due to the current global economic climate and the impact this may have in many of our key markets.

“We are currently on track to see a record number of holiday visits to the UK this year, which suggests that our appeal as a destination remains strong; this level of interest is something we hope to build on as we head in to 2012. The business traveller market however remains some way down on record levels, and there is some risk this could decline further if there was an economic slowdown as companies usually put in place measures to kerb travel costs.

“2012 gives us an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Britain in a way that we have never had before, allowing us to revitalise our appeal in mature markets and help us get Britain on the destination wish list of first time visitors from growth markets such as Brazil, China, India and Russia.

“As part of our ‘GREAT Britain – You’re Invited’ marketing programme which we are undertaking with commercial partners, we have a fantastic range of deals in place to entice visitors to travel here throughout 2012 and will look to tap into the strong holiday market to ensure we can build on the gains we have made over the last couple of years. This will be supported by our largest ever image campaign to help inspire potential visitors to come and enjoy all the great experiences that we have on offer here in the UK.

“VisitBritain is working hard to ensure that the Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations will generate positive PR for Britain, taking advantage of the global interest to increase tourism numbers in the years ahead and creating a lasting tourism legacy for the future.”

As well as taking into consideration the economic implications, the 2012 forecast has also looked at the unique dynamics that will come as a result of hosting next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games2. Taking careful note of reviews of the impact of previous Games on host countries, VisitBritain is working closely with the tourism industry to counteract any short-term impact that may be caused and how it can help tackle the issue of displacement of overseas visitors.

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