Tourism plan to help local firms
Given the success of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it is not surprising that those tasked with promoting the UK as a tourist destination are on cloud nine.
Largely attributed to the promotion of the Games, Britain recorded an increase in overseas tourists from 2011–12, rather than the dip experienced by other host nations. Numbers have continued to rise, with the provisional 2014 figure currently at 34.8mn visitors, who spent a total of £21.7bn.
The capital, a huge draw at the time for visitors, continues to be so, as indicated by the special feature on London in a recent issue of the Japanese-language magazine BRUTUS.
But since the Games, tourists have also been flocking to the regions—a trend that VisitBritain wants to see continue. Earlier this year, the UK tourism board launched its flagship event ExploreGB, designed to benefit tourism suppliers and destinations. I had the privilege of attending with a Japan delegation.
We were encouraged to experience the best of what the UK has to offer, from the Shetland archipelago in the north to the Cornwall peninsula in the south, and the Norfolk broads in the east to County Fermanagh in the west—and many places in between.
Japanese tourists consider the UK a top holiday destination, but many visit only a limited number of well-known places. Were they to step off the beaten track, however, they would leave with a deeper impression of the country’s history, culture, sport, music, shopping scene and cuisine.
Meanwhile, from a British perspective, the economic and resultant social benefits would be felt by a greater number of firms across the country, including small and medium-sized businesses.
One man who can attest to the tangible positive value of tourism is Koji Nakao, chairman of Terumo Corporation. Driven by his passion for art and a chance connection with a famous artist, Nakao has helped set up a modern art project on a remote island off the Hiroshima Prefecture coast. Although marginalised and depopulated, the community there has been energised by the effect of the tourists who now visit the isle.
A “new” sport
While rugby has drawn the UK and Japan together to cooperate in tourism-related activities for the forthcoming world cups in 2015 and 2019, respectively, another sport that is fusing ties is cricket. Sportsmen from the home of the game have been instrumental in promoting it in schools, and in training current players to a professional level.
On behalf of the BCCJ ACUMEN team, I would like to congratulate The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their daughter, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. In honour of the occasion, this issue features a special message from British Ambassador to Japan Tim Hitchens CMG LVO.