Friday 26 September 2008

VisitBritain's 50th Birthday


VisitBritain, the UK’s national tourism agency, is celebrating five decades of promoting Britain as a tourism destination in Australia. From The Beatles to Bond, Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter, Mary Quant to Vivienne Westwood – just a small sample of the contemporary cultural highlights from Britain that have been lauded in Australia in the last 50 years.

The first British tourism office, the British Travel Centre, was opened in Young Street, Sydney, by Lord Carrington, British High Commissioner to Australia at the time. This was a significant move in acknowledging the strong ties between Australia and Britain as the burgeoning travel boom began to take shape.

Commenting on the golden anniversary, Judy Watkins, Country Manager for Australia & New Zealand said: “This is an incredible landmark, signifying the fantastic camaraderie between these two great nations. The desire for Australians to experience a holiday in Britain is greater than ever – currently totalling 957,000 visits year annually, we are confident of breaking the one million barrier before 2012.

She continued: “What is particularly amazing about Britain is that it is a destination that is constantly evolving and surprising. Whether you are a first-timer or a repeat visitor, there is always something new and exciting to discover. We are delighted to be celebrating the rich culture, history and heritage that the country offers, but also that contemporary twist that can be found in the regenerated cities and coastal areas. As we move forward towards the Olympics in 2012, showcasing the destination to an even wider audience, we hope to inspire future generations of Australians to keep this legacy going for another 50 years and beyond.”

To recognise this milestone achievement, VisitBritain has created a dedicated area on its website:, chronicling the best of British personalities, places and tourism experiences from 1958 to present day. The site is divided into five key areas:

Sporting prowess – the birthplace of rugby, football, tennis and cricket. Relive the glory moments of football fever with a visit to the newly restored Wembley Stadium, or partake in the quintessential English delights of strawberries and cream whilst watching your favourite players perform at Wimbledon. Reminisce about the highs and lows of the ongoing battles between Britain and Australia in the sporting arena…but don’t mention the medals!

Musically minded – from Beatlemania to Brit Pop. Take a trip down memory Lane, or preferably Penny Lane, with a Magical Mystery Tour in the Beatles home city of Liverpool and see how life began back in the 60’s for the Fab Four British exports. Soak up festival fever and be inspired to experience the unique sound of Glastonbury or the Isle of Wight, for an unforgettable taste of Cool Britannia.

Golden Guide to Britain on film – from jet-setters to set-jetters, now it’s easy to be both on a visit from Australia to Britain! Start your journey on Platform 9 ¾ and aim for Alnwick Castle for a Harry Potter tour, to add a touch of magic to your British holiday. Or indulge yourself with the ultimate aspirational lifestyle and live like Bond, James Bond, with a speedboat trip on the River Thames in London, followed by a martini-making class in Dukes Hotel and learn how to shake (not stir) 007’s tipple of choice.

Fashionably wired – Carnaby Street welcomed the world with its innovative introduction of the ‘boutique’ in the 60’s and continues to do so today, maintaining its status as one of the best shopping experiences around the globe. London’s Kings Road was all about the mini’s – the clothing and the vehicles! Home to the original stores from Mary Quant and Vivienne Westwood, this part of town still keeps the fashionistas flocking.

50 years of events in Britain – Royal weddings, momentous music events such as Live Aid and the surge of new tourism product that emerged to mark the Millennium in Britain, including the infamous London Eye, have all placed Britain firmly in the global media spotlight in the last few decades. Next year will see an unprecedented celebration of Scottish culture with Homecoming 2009, which commemorates the 250th anniversary of the birth of famed Scottish poet, Robert Burns. Many verses of Auld Lang Syne are set to be sung and there will be whisky galore with a month-long programme of events dedicated to the nation’s favourite drop taking place in May.

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