James Bond is going to try to do for the UK what the Olympic Games failed to accomplish this summer -- boost tourism in the country. The iconic fictional character is the face of a new advertising campaign to attract foreign visitors.
The legendary spy is celebrating his 50th anniversary on film this fall. For the occasion, VisitBritain, Britain's national tourism agency, the organization responsible for promoting tourism to the UK internationally, is launching a campaign based on James Bond. The campaign, based on the slogan "Bond is Great Britain," will be launched on October 5 -- designated as Global James Bond Day this year -- across 21 countries including Brazil, Australia Germany and the US.
Organizers are also inviting Bond fans to participate in the Agent UK experience through social media networks. The 'experience' includes five online missions to find the hidden location of a rogue agent. The global winner will be flown to the UK by Brittish Airways and treated to a luxury experience.
A second competition is being organized across the 21 targeted countries. Winners will get the chance to travel to the UK and take part in the "Live like Bond" experience. Perks include taking part in a private tour of the Aston Martin headquarters and a master class to learn how to make a perfect martini.
Organizers have timed the release of the campaign to coincide with the lead-up to the debut of the new Bond film, scheduled for October 26. The 23rd Bond movie Skyfall was filmed in iconic London locations such as the National Gallery, Whitehall and Greenwich, as well as international locations including China.
In Skyfall, Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. The film features Daniel Craig (third performance as James Bond) and Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva, the film's villain.
Research carried out by VisitBritain shows that film locations can be a major draw for overseas tourists. Alnwick Castle, the location used for Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter films, experienced an increase in visitor numbers of 230 percent after the release of the films.
The annual tourist influx to New Zealand increased by 40 percent, jumping from 1.7 million in 2000 to 2.4 million in 2006, after the Lord of the Rings trilogy was released. As Bruce Lahood, US and Canada regional manager for Tourism New Zealand, said back then, "You can argue that Lord of the Rings was the best unpaid advertisement that New Zealand has ever had."