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VisitBritain banks on silver screen to spark Japanese tourist influx

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UK tourism body VisitBritain is hoping the emerging popularity of TV dramas such as Downton Abbey and Sherlock in Japan will lead to a surge of new visitors to the UK.

The globally popular – and quintessentially British – TV shows have both recently aired on Japanese national channel NHK, while the Paddington film is to set to be released in the country later this year, after film studio research revealed that 69 per cent of Japanese parents are aware of the marmalade sandwich-munching bear.

VisitBritain’s Japan team hosted a ‘GREAT Tourism Week’ follow-up seminar at The Shard’s Shangri-La Hotel in London this week – attended by twenty London-based Japanese travel industry representatives and media – where British screen exports were highlighted as a driver of growth.

The event follows VisitBritain’s 'GREAT Tourism Week' travel trade roadshow, which toured the three major Japanese cities of Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo in early July, attracting over 130 attendees. Over the last five years there has been a yearly average of 231,800 visits to Britain from Japan, with an average of £1,024 spent per visit – almost double the UK inbound marker average.

At this week’s seminar, attendees from travel agencies targeting Japanese visitors – including JTB Europe, HIS Europe, Jalpack and MIKI Travel – heard about the latest UK trends and were introduced to guests from ETOA, UKinbound and VisitBritain’s Japan and London teams.

Attendees were informed about VisitBritain Japan’s two key target segments of Japanese travellers: women in their 30s and 40s, plus “Active Seniors”, as Japan is known as a country with a wealthy and healthy ageing population. Travel agencies in Japan have started targeting these two groups, as women in their 30s and 40s often create travel trends, while “Active Seniors” are know to be fond of British gardens, afternoon tea, heritage sites and beautiful countryside.

“London-based Japanese travel trade representatives are highly influential 'eyes on the ground' for Tokyo decision makers,” said VisitBritain interim CEO Keith Beecham.

“Our seminars provide a platform for knowledge sharing and heighten awareness of the need to broaden our tourism offer beyond the established “Golden Route tours” between Edinburgh, the Lake District, the Cotswolds and London. In the long-term this will help create more varied British tourism products for Japanese tourists and, subsequently, more visits from Japan.”

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UK tourism body VisitBritain is hoping the emerging popularity of TV dramas such as Downton Abbey and Sherlock in Japan will lead to a surge of new visitors to the UK.
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