Looking back at royal baby week, one can't help but realise the global reach of such occasions and the positive knock on effects for international tourism. Judging by the international media gathered in London for the birth of Prince George, Britain's profile has undoubtedly been lifted, with images and footage splashed across newspapers and TV sets globally. Britain is already one of the most popular destinations in the world, so a royal baby won't necessarily - or dramatically -change perceptions or inspire immediate travel. What we do know however, is that hosting the very best national broadcasters from around the world puts us front of mind once again and reinvigorates our brand as we seek to maintain the momentum of the Royal Wedding, The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and of course the 2012 Olympic Games. The level of coverage - think of the Buckingham Palace backdrop, the footage of the Changing the Guard - and the free advertising it has given us has been absolutely invaluable.
We've proven from past showpiece events that we can strike while the iron is hot. Within hours of the birth we began highlighting parts of the UK with links to the couple in an attempt to encourage visitors to book holidays to areas with royal connections.
This included promoting Norfolk and Anmer Hall, a few miles east of the Queen's grand Norfolk estate, Sandringham, which will be the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's country retreat. Other areas with a connection include Eton, where the Duke of Cambridge went to school, St Andrews University where the couple met as students and the Welsh island of Anglesey where they lived while William served as a search and rescue pilot.
We combined this with a family friendly campaign launched in the States and a new GREAT poster campaign featuring Kate and William with Prince George on the steps of St Mary's Hospital. We are using this across our expansive social media and PR channels to target 21 countries.
With the birth of the new heir, third in line to the throne, it gives us an opportunity to provide some great family friendly travel ideas and of course heighten the profile of our royal attractions across Britain. We've gone out to highlight Britain as an ideal family destination, with plenty to do whatever your generation. Royal memorabilia from our online shops have been sold to customers over all over the world, including the USA, Hong Kong and Japan.
But if numbers are your thing, we know that Britain's culture and heritage remains our biggest draw. It's already worth £4.6billion to the tourism industry and a slice of that comes from attractions such as Buckingham Palace, the Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh Castle, the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, places which have a connection to Britain's monarchs...past and present.
To remain competitive against rival destinations we must play to our strengths. Our heritage certainly does that by embracing our royal legacy and of course the unique pomp and pageantry which is a proven tourism generator.
A year on from the Olympics and international visitor numbers are more than just promising. The first five months of 2013 (the most recent we have available) have seen visits two per cent higher than the first five months of 2012 with a record spike in spend of ten per cent. These numbers leave us on-track to achieve post-Games targets and prove that tourism is a vital industry earning valuable foreign exchange and sustaining jobs across the country.
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