VisitBritain faces government cuts of 34% as part of the comprehensive spending review.

The tourism agency is being forced to review its operations further to keep its Olympic tourism strategy on course after the reduced four-year budget settlement, according to chairman Christopher Rodrigues.

He spoke after the Department for Culture, Media and Sport set a new, lower funding level for VisitBritain.

In cash terms it will be £26.5 million in 2011/12 going down to £21.2 million in 2014/15. This compares with the current year’s grant in aid of £28.8 million.
It amounts to a 34% reduction in real terms, after accounting for inflation.

Since 2007, VisitBritain has relocated from Hammersmith, shed 34% of staff and concentrated more than 200 campaigns in 35 markets two years ago to three core campaigns now.

Rodrigues said: “This government understands the value VisitBritain brings to Britain’s tourism industry, but this is tough love.

“Visit Britain will respond to the settlement by further cutting overheads and reducing its physical network overseas to retain as much money as possible for our global marketing effort.”
He added: “It is less than two years until the eyes of the world will be on the opening ceremony of the London Games.  We have a great chance to use the unprecedented level of media exposure that the event will bring to boost Britain’s image abroad.

“We are determined to do our utmost, despite this reduced funding, to grasp that opportunity and are already in discussions with ministers about how to create the strongest possible campaign around the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to promote this country as a tourism destination working in partnership with the private sector.”

Chief executive Sandie Dawe said: “While this is a significant reduction in our funding, it does not change our objectives, which remain sound.

“Our aim now is to tighten our focus clearly onto the UK’s key markets: ones that are already delivering for us and those emerging markets that are key to our future.

“We will use new technology including our award-winning suite of multi-lingual websites, social media platforms and international public relations expertise to maintain our global footprint  as well as a staffed presence in key locations.”