VisitBritain seeks brand partners to aid targeting

VisitBritain is creating a series of marketing alliances with major brands to improve the promotion of the nation's tourist attractions to specific audiences.

VisitBritain chief executive Tom Wright told Marketing that he intends to set up eight product and lifestyle 'clubs' to co-ordinate the targeting of groups such as the gay market, young people and families.

The organisation is already in talks with lifestyle brands including Lonely Planet and Carling to run tourism campaigns aimed at young people.

Brands may be given access to VisitBritain's 5m-strong database.

'This will be a major focus for us in 2005,' said Wright. 'The alliances will include ad campaigns, lifestyle conferences and websites.'

The creation of marketing clubs, each of which will be chaired by a VisitBritain director, is the organisation's latest attempt to create partnerships with third-party brands. During the summer, it sought retail partners to raise the profile of Britain as a shopping destination.

Separately, the tourism body, which will have almost £70m at its disposal next year, is striving to improve accommodation in the UK. It is working with the AA, the RAC and hotel groups to agree on an accommodation quality benchmark.

VisitBritain currently endorses 45% of British accommodation, but is aiming for 80% by 2008. From January 1 2006 the body will only back hotels and guesthouses that have the 'Enjoy England' quality kitemark.

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