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British tourism woos Indian middle class

delhi Updated: May 22, 2008 14:29 IST
Highlight Story

Once the summer retreat of the rich and the famous in India, Britain is now wooing the Indian middle class with a new tourism campaign this holiday season.

The promotional drive, "Britain, Be Inspired", is targeting first-time foreign travellers "who always had Britain on their wish lists", say officials in Britain's tourism department.

"We have put together a strategy involving a few key campaigns moving from a tactical approach to a more strategic approach in marketing Britain in India," said Paramjit Bawa, country manager of Britain's national tourist organisation VisitBritain.

The "Be Inspired" campaign highlights Bicester village, Europe's leading designer outlets destination; the elegant Dukes Hotel in Mayfair, where the creator of James Bond Ian Fleming came up with the classic one-line "shaken, not stirred"; and the Lords, cricket's spiritual headquarters.

Liverpool, which has been chosen as the cultural capital of Europe for 2008 for its association with The Beatles, is also another important stop on the "Be Inspired" campaign trail, with at least 300 events woven around music and the Fab Four scheduled throughout the year.

According to VisitBritain officials, India is the key market for the country this season. The rising disposable incomes of the middle class and factors like better air connectivity, competitive fares and easy visas have seen a greater number of Indian footfalls in Britain over the past three years.

The number of visitors to Britain is expected to touch one million in the next 10 years. "This is a realistic forecast going by today's indicators and trends. India outbound is booming and we want to make sure that Britain rides the wave," Bawa said.

Last year, Indian tourists were declared the second highest spenders in Britain (globally) with an average per capita spend of 850 pounds sterling for a duration of 26 days.

According to an estimate by VisitBritain, Indians logged 366,745 visits to Britain in 2006 and spent over 315 million pounds, an increase of 89 million pounds from 2005. Indians overtook tourists from Japan as the biggest Asian spender in Britain.

Bawa said the campaign would showcase Britain as an ever-engaging and ever-evolving destination. The campaign, he said, reflects British quality in its various forms to an essentially middle class audience, he said.

According to senior officials, the campaign has an "element of surprise in it like special price packages from partner (local) tour operators, events and add-on activities for more value."

"More than destinations, this campaign is all about experiencing something new and unusual. We are encouraging visitors not just to explore a castle but also sleep in one. They needn't just go shopping, but rather get a personal shopper and go to the Selfridges Champagne Bar. Or when they watch 'Romeo and Juliet', they can watch it outside on a starry night," Bawa told IANS.

The campaign, launched in March 2008, is yet to firm up its strategies.

"We plan to roll out key promotions with both online and offline elements. And we plan to integrate the campaign with both consumers and the travel trade segment through regional promotions, ambient marketing, trade events, strategic partnerships and consortium approach to increase the marketing outreach and the necessary impact by enrolling brands that promote travel," said Bawa.

The country has launched three other campaigns as well - "Dynamic Britain" for youth, "Classic Britain for the middle-aged" and "Journey of Lifetime" for business travellers and high net worth individuals.