UK looks to lure more American tourists

LONDON: The British Incoming Tour Operators Association (BITOA), the trade group for tour operators bringing tourists into Britain, has hired UK agency Brighter PR to conduct a campaign to lure more American tourists to Britain.

LONDON: The British Incoming Tour Operators Association (BITOA), the trade group for tour operators bringing tourists into Britain, has hired UK agency Brighter PR to conduct a campaign to lure more American tourists to Britain.

The appointment is part of a wide-ranging communications review carried out by Stephen Dowd, the BITOA's new CEO.

Since taking over in February, Dowd has brought in a new communications manager, Janet McCready, and hired Brighter after a four-way pitch. Dowd said that Bugsgang & Associates had previously been used for project work, but he wanted a new approach.

Dowd hopes that feelings of goodwill in the US toward the UK following the war in Iraq would help bring back tourists, stressing that campaigning on this issue would be "gentle and subliminal" to turn "goodwill into actual visits."

He added that work would include trying to persuade media to think twice before running images that could be harmful to UK tourism.

"When they flash pictures of tanks outside Heathrow (Airport) across newswires, it creates a sense of panic," he explained. Dowd added that he already met editors from national newspapers and trade publications to try and persuade them against using such images.

Dowd also briefed Brighter to lobby the government for more funding for tourism, and to recruit new members.

The latest move comes a week after VisitBritain, the new tourism body marketing Britain to the rest of the world, announced it would plow £2 million into a fresh PR push, also aimed at wooing back US visitors.

The campaign is set to launch in late spring.

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