PUBLIC SECT0R: Brighter PR hired to pull in US tourists

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

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

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

Dowd hopes that warm feelings in the US towards the UK following the war in Iraq would help bring back tourists, stressing 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 across news wires it creates a sense of panic,' he said. Dowd added he had already met editors from national newspapers and trade publications to try to persuade them against using such images.

Dowd has also briefed Brighter to lobby Government for more funding for tourism and to recruit new members.

This latest move comes a week after VisitBritain - the new tourism body marketing Britain to the rest of the world - announced it is to plough £2m into a fresh PR push also aimed at wooing back US visitors. The campaign is set to launch late spring.

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