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More than one in 10 Canadian travellers (12%) have Britain on the brain when it comes to planning their next international trip, according to data compiled by VisitBritain. And while the manifestation of that desire is still uncertain due to the pandemic, the UK’s national tourism agency is eager to re-enforce the messaging that there is a wealth of new events and opportunities for Canadians to experience in Britain when the time comes to visit again, and, importantly, that will be safe to do so.

Gavin Landry, executive VP Americas for VisitBritain, told delegates at the recent ExploreGB Virtual trade show that the British tourism sector is actively planning for tourism’s recovery and that marketing campaigns will be launched in major markets “when it’s safe to travel.” He noted that inspirational messaging will be equally shared with safety assurances, not least the merits of Britain’s “We’re Good to Go” initiative whereby tourism businesses are certified after demonstrating stringent health standards.

VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said that the UK government is expected to deliver a report on when international travel can resume in April, adding that an aggressive vaccination campaign this winter-spring has already helped provide a domestic roadmap to tourism recovery.

When international travellers do return, VisitBritain data suggests that VFR will be one of the strongest motivators – “seeing people you haven’t been able to see (because of the pandemic),” said VisitBritain’s head research and forecasting, Richard Nicolls.

Other research findings, Nicolls said, not surprisingly, include a desire by visitors to get off the beaten track, especially along the coast. And while visiting big cities remains popular, interest in London – though still tops – has marginally declined. Scotland and Wales also merit higher interest from long-haul travellers.

But overall, said Nicholls, “the takeaway is that many people will desire a normal (travel) experience.”

With this in mind, here is a sampling of some of the major highlights for visitors to Britain in 2021 – and beyond:

England Coast Path, photo – VisitBritain/Pawel Libera

England Coast Path: Opening in sections throughout 2021, the England Coast Path will become the world’s longest continuous walking path once all 4,317 km are open. Wrapping around the entire England coast, each of the four regions brings its own scenic views and unique experience. For the full experience, visitors are encouraged to stay in a local pub or inn along the way.

Coventry City of Culture 2021: The historic city, an hour’s train ride from London, takes centre stage as a UK City of Culture in May with the launch of a full year of programming that includes art festivals, performances, and days of activism, all showcasing Coventry as a creative, diverse and dynamic hub in central England. Accompanying the initiative, the city will invest over £44 million into infrastructure with newly designed city centres and railway systems.

Green Giant: The Royal Horticultural Society will open its fifth garden in Greater Manchester in May. RHS Garden Bridgewater covers 62 hectares, making it the largest current horticultural project in Europe. Set in the grounds of the former Worsley New Hall, the stunning garden celebrates surviving historic features while bringing cutting-edge design and horticultural practice to England’s North West.

Literary Lake District: Fans of William Wordsworth can celebrate the famed poet’s 250th anniversary with a visit to his home in the serene Lake District.

Scotland’s Year of Coasts & Water: With almost 10,000 km of coastline, over 30,000 freshwater lochs, and hundreds of offshore islands, Scotland will spotlight and celebrate opportunities to experience and enjoy its coasts and waters in 2021, encouraging responsible engagement and participation. Coastal foraging, wild swimming, and hanging with dolphins are just a few of the activities that await.

Wales’ Year of Outdoors: With its 1,400 km coastal path, breath-taking national parks, and 600-plus castles, Wales’ outdoors is celebrated in 2021. Adventure-seekers can discover surfing lagoons, the world’s fastest zip line, coasteering, and even sleeping suspended above the sea. There are also plenty of more peaceful activities, like paddle boarding under the stars, dolphin spotting along the coast, or simply enjoying a nice gin & tonic outside.


The Commonwealth Games: An array of sporting competitions will be on tap in Birmingham from July 28 to Aug. 8, 2022. The international multi-sport event, which started in 1930, will feature 6,600 athletes from 72 nations (including Canada). Fans can expect to catch football matches, rugby games, and, of course, cricket, amongst other events. England’s second largest city also boasts a rich history full of innovation and heritage, a culinary scene featuring six Michelin-starred restaurants, plus many museums and galleries.

Platinum Jubilee: A series of events to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 70th year on the throne is scheduled to take place from June 2 to 5, 2022. London and other major cities will be complemented by events in communities across the UK to reflect the Queen’s reign, the longest of any British sovereign, and her impact on the UK and the world since her accession to the throne in 1952.

First published at Travel Industry Today

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