Addressing Britain’s “brand problem” must be the key objective for the inbound tourism industry post-Brexit.
The chairman of Ukinbound said at the tourism association’s annual convention in Bristol this week that the recent conduct of British politicians has given Britain a “brand problem” overseas.
James Aitken, who is also managing director of inbound operator Cashel Travel, blamed Brexit chaos and arguments in parliament for tarnishing the country’s reputation.
“Over Christmas a taxi driver in India said to me ‘Order! Order’ when he learnt I was from the UK. Britain has a brand problem, and we need to work hard to improve it,” he insisted.
Aitken also urged UKinbound members to play their part in minimising the harmful effects of overtourism, by visiting popular locations outside peak hours.
“If all the operators in this room change how they operate their tours, the cumulative effect would be significant,” he insisted.
Aitken acknowledged the significant carbon emissions created by the aviation sector, and described his surprise to learn a recent return flight to Vancouver created 1.6 tonnes of carbon – which is more than the annual carbon emissions per capita in many developing countries.
“[Just talking about] reusing hotel towels is not going to wash,” he insisted, while also warning that if passenger numbers drop, there will be less incentive for airlines to invest heavily in greener technology.