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VisitBritain expands reach to international markets with US focus

Kerrin MacPhie, VisitBritain’s head of business events is seeking to further the organisation’s reach to global markets.

MacPhie, outlined her plans at the MPI Economic Insights on 22 January, which took place at the London Marriott Maida Vale.

The head of business events said that VisitBritain was also looking to expand globally and draw buyers from international markets. “The real focus is on America although Ireland is second in terms of spend.”

She was speaking at an MPI event for the first time, and detailed the work carried out by VisitBritain in 2018 and into 2019.

“The VisitBritain Business Events team is fairly new,” MacPhie said. “In the last 18 months, we’ve shaken up what we’ve done.”

MacPhie highlighted key areas which they are focusing on, including connectivity with international markets, a National Ambassador Programme, direct buyer contact and strategic engagement.

Business from China was another area that MacPhie touched on. Estimates show that international tourism expenditure grew by 4.7 per cent in 2016, to US$258 billion.

Oxford Economics forecasts that business outbound travel from China would reach US$100bn in2018, up 26 per cent on 2017 (estimated at US$79bn). In 2025, it is forecast to reach US$212bn.

MacPhie also stated that one of VisitBritain’s responsibilities was to act as an “enabler to government and helping to convert business.”

On Brexit, MacPhie said: “There’s lots of positivity about the UK but we can’t second guess. Business of events is still happening because the pound is so low.”

London accounts for 63 per cent of meetings and incentive visits, MacPhie said. Events are drawn to London because of big draws such as Tech Week.

Other UK cities are also becoming more prominent, especially the rise of the mid-size cities. Reasons for this included the desire to see new locations, combatting the ‘been there, done that’ scenario.

The MPI Insights Economic Outlook’s programme presented insights and debate about the future of events. Among the industry experts giving presentations were Tracey Boreham, head of M&E – HRG, American Express Meetings & Events; Judy Elvey, senior marketing manager, Cvent and Sue Darlaston, head of business development, Banks Sadler.