UK.gov pledges probe into tourists' 'motivations'

Massively devalued pound anyone? Oh, no... we'll draw post Brexit punters in with big data

People shopping in Piccadilly Circus, London

Yep-she's-still-the-UK-Prime-Minister Theresa May took time off from packing today to launch a strategy to increase tourist visitors to the fair islands.

No, this isn't a reboot of the the New York Times' "Brexit means Brexit" disaster tourism-style package holiday at $6,500 a pop.

May's cunning plan is to increase annual visitors from 38 million a year by an extra nine million by 2025 through other means. (We'll definitely have Brexit sorted by then, anyway...).

Tourists in the UK spent an estimated £23bn last year.

To achieve these visitor figures, she generously lathered a whopping £250,000 on improving internet connectivity at UK conference centres – the plan hopes to increase off-season visitors by encouraging more conferences and exhibitions. It also promises “full fibre access” but how many of the thousands of conference centres across the UK will get nippy 'net is not clear.

The plans promises 130,000 extra hotel rooms, 75 per cent of them outside that London.

There is also much talk of big data. A Tourist Data Hub, run by the British Tourist Authority will dole out real-time data to lucky small businesses - from the likes of Airbnb, Barclays, BT, Expedia, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group and TripAdvisor.

Rather creepily, this will include data on people who consider holidays in the UK, but then change their minds and go somewhere else instead (the lunatics).

The plan notes that 85 per cent of inbound visitors to the UK now book online and 56 per cent use location technology whilst on holiday. It hopes to treat the visitors to some of the lovely surveillance the locals are usually on the receiving end of, and use this data to better understand UK visitors' "motivations and habits".

The plan will also see the creation of five rather North Korean-sounding “Tourism Zones”.

On visas, the British government has said it won't impose restrictions on visitors from current EU states. It will set up an Electronic Travel Authorisation system for visitors who do not need a full visas.

We are promised: "This will be a simple online system which is more light-touch than a visa requirement, and an ETA will be valid for multiple entries over an extended period."

So that's all good then.

The full plan is available here. ®




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