What do cars, crude oil and tourism have in common?
They are three of Britain's top exports, contributing billions of pounds to the UK economy.
Last week over 3,000 companies took part in UK Trade and Investment's (UKTI) fifth annual Export Week, designed to encourage businesses to start exporting, or expand their export activity, by equipping them with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed in international markets.
Tourism may not be a tangible, or 'visible', product, but it is an export - and a major one at that. As Sajid Javid, the new Culture Secretary - responsible for tourism - and an ex Treasury minister will know, international tourism is the UK's 5th largest export earner. It contributes £24bn to the country's economy - more than the amount accrued in export earnings from cars or crude oil (*Source: Deloitte). Overseas visitors spent a record amount in Britain in 2013, some 13% more than the previous record from 2012 and the first time the £20 billion mark has been passed. This level of spend is also forecast to grow by over 6% a year.
Britain's brand, the experiences it has to offer and the welcome we afford are all a hugely valuable part of the country's currency as we seek to attract an ever larger number of tourists, investors, students and traders. By 2020, VisitBritain believes the UK could welcome 40 million overseas visitors a year, contributing £31.5 billion annually to the economy.
We couldn't achieve this goal without actively and creatively selling the experience of Britain to potential visitors. After all, the foreign visitors who travel here are making a conscious decision to choose Britain and to purchase an experience and pay for it with their hard-earned dollars, euros and yen.
One of the most effective ways we are exporting Britain as a tourist destination is through the international GREAT campaign. VisitBritain plays a central role alongside DCMS, FCO and UKTI - promoting Britain as a great place to visit, study, work, trade with or invest in. We also export products through VisitBritain's online retail operation - www.visitbritainshop.com - selling tickets, tours and experiences to visitors before they set off on their trip.
The GREAT campaign has been seen across the world and has successfully increased awareness and intention to visit Britain. Our very latest supporter is Welsh songstress Katherine Jenkins, who will be fronting our Countryside is GREAT campaign later this year, promoting Britain's countryside in all its glory. The campaign aims to increase both the visibility of the British countryside and the revenue that international visitors bring to the rural economy.
Exporting the best of Britain means that more tourists will come, purchase more local goods and services when they're here and, importantly, export and share memories of a fantastic trip back to their own countries. As we all look forward to the Easter holidays - a time that traditionally marks the start of the peak tourism season - many international visitors will be making lasting memories of our culture, heritage, shopping, countryside, food and music.