A survey of Hosted Buyers attending this year’s March Marketplace (MAMA) shows that the UK’s rich heritage remains a strong draw for visitors to these shores. Almost half of all respondents gave visiting historic sites a maximum ten out of ten in terms of popularity with their clients. When asked what images they used to sell the UK, over 80 per cent mentioned castles, while the most popular phrase was ‘traditional’ (82%) followed by ‘culturally rich’ (78%). Countryside also scored strongly, with images such as the Scottish and Welsh mountains (65%) and English villages (60%) commonly used and the phrase ‘picturesque’ (69%) scoring highly.
However, this was just one particularly strong trend in a rich and varied picture. MAMA is a two day workshop where buyers meet suppliers from across the British Isles in a series of pre-arranged appointments. Over 200 influential international trade buyers from around the world are attending this year’s event, representing a broad range of clients with both groups and independent travellers.
Asked about modern attractions that were particularly popular, new sites such as the Titanic Museum in Belfast and The View from the Shard appeared alongside more established destinations like the London Eye. Operators specialising in Scotland gave special mention to the Falkirk Wheel, an example of Britain’s past and present merging.
The outlook for tourism in the UK was generally positive with 60 per cent of respondents saying that the number of clients visiting the UK in 2012 was up on the previous year, most typically by 5 to 10 per cent. VisitBritain is forecasting that inbound tourism will grow a further 3 per cent in 2013.
The survey also explored what clients most liked to bring back from their trips. Two products that stood head and shoulders above the rest: tea and whisky.