It's Official Britain Is 'The Most Eccentric Country in the World...'*

Eccentric Britons step out of the adverts to show why Fall and Winter 2002 is the time to visit the UK

October 2002 (Newstream) -- Britain is famous for landmarks like Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, but as part of 'Only in Britain, Only in 2002', the British Tourism Industry has decided to show the British at their quirky best. They have been busy finding examples of British eccentricity to tempt us across the water this fall and winter. The British have been running a multimillion dollar TV and print campaign with ads showing traditional images of the UK with a twist - such as knights in armour playing tennis. Now they have asked an American psychologist, who has traced the first recorded eccentric to the reign of Elizabeth I, to explain why the Brits are the quirkiest people in the world. They hope North Americans will visit Britain this year and experience it for themselves.

The country that produced Mr Bean, John Cleese, the Beatles and Monty Python is also the home of aristocrats with houses the size of airports (which you can visit), the ancient sport of Sheep Racing, tin bath races and some genuine eccentrics that they want to introduce to visitors from the US and Canada.

According to US Eccentricity expert Dr David Weeks*, who has worked in the UK for 24 years, the UK is right to be proud of its unique people and places. His research shows that Britain has the most eccentric people in the world which makes it a fun place to visit.

To discover a hidden Britain and more about the special offers only available in Britain only in 2002 please speak to a travel agent or go to the website: US - or Canada - Visitors to the web site can also enter an online competition to win a fantastic free trip to London.

'Only in Britain. Only in 2002' is a 40million initiative from the British Government and the British tourism industry to generate an additional 500million for the British economy this year.

The unprecedented multi-media campaign is the result of the largest private and public sector partnership in the history of British tourism and hopes to boost UK visitor figures following the foot and mouth outbreak and September 11 in 2001. Half of the funding to promote Britain as a destination has been provided by the Government, which has matched, pound for pound, the 20 million raised by the tourism industry in cash and collateral marketing. (A list of contributing partners is detailed below)

The theme of the campaign, which has been created by BMP DDB and market-tested in three of the key countries, is ordinary British people extending an invitation to visit Britain. It focuses on Britain's uniqueness in terms of its diversity, heritage and humour - hence the central message "Only in Britain. Only in 2002."

The 24million media spend will be split equally between North America and Europe and is being targeted at seven countries, which together represent nearly half of the total number of visitors to Britain from overseas: Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the USA.

It has been spearheaded by a quintessentially British TV campaign, the biggest ever produced to promote Britain as a tourist destination. This has been supported by direct mail and print advertisement campaigns, highlighting some of the great partner offers available only in 2002.

All the PR and marketing activities will direct visitors to either their local travel agent or a special website. Both routes will provide access to 2,600 unique offers and deals from the British tourism industry, giving visitors the chance to save hundreds of pounds off the cost of a holiday to Britain this fall and winter.

Partners contributing to the campaign are:

Accor UK Ltd
American Express
Avis Europe plc
Best Western Hotels
bmi British Midland
British Airways PLC
British Hospitality Association
British Tourist Authority
Department for Culture, Media & Sport
De Vere Group PLC
DFDS Seaways
English Tourism Council
Heart of England Tourist Board
Hilton Group PLC
Jarvis Hotels PLC
London Tourist Board & Convention Bureau
Millennium Copthorne Hotels
National Express Group
Passenger Shipping Association
Queens Moat House Hotels
Radisson Edwardian
Red Carnation Hotels
Savoy Group
Six Continents PLC
Stena Line
Thistle Hotels
Wales Tourist Board
Whitbread Hotel Company

In addition to attracting visitors to the UK, 1m of the campaign has also been set aside to enhance the experience of overseas visitors once they arrive in Britain. This part of the campaign will be led by the English Tourism Council, in collaboration with the other national tourist boards for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The aim will be to make overseas visitors feel welcome while they are here, encourage them to travel more widely and, where possible, to extend their stay. Partnerships will be created across the industry to provide visitors with a visible, valuable and influential welcome. Particular focus will be given to points of entry throughout the UK and to Tourist Information Centres and other information providers.