On Location at Destination Britain North America

Travel Agent was on hand for the annual Destination Britain North America gathering at New York's Eventi Hotel this week, and got an intense dose of everything new and upcoming throughout Britain for 2012. (It’s going to be a big year, so we hear.) Among the tidbits...

*   VisitEngland, the official tourism board for the country, is getting ready for next year’s Jubilee in June. Various events will honor Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne, including a flotilla down the Thames. Meanwhile, the Cultural Olympiad will show off the whole country as London gears up for the Olympics (a full list of events will go live in November), including the Royal Shakespeare Company’s festival. Another site to look out for is www.visitengland.org/traveltrade, which will be dedicated exclusively to agents and the travel industry.

*   London & Partners (www.londonandpartners.com) is launching a new campaign—Limited Edition London—that will promote events in the city through July (like the Jubilee, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s festival, the Dickens festival and the da Vinci exhibit at the National Gallery). Guests can stay overnight in the London Zoo, and the Churchill War Rooms will be hosting a special Valentine’s Day party (we hear Churchill did love his champagne...). In the works are new Harry Potter-focused tours, and the Cutty Sark will be reopening in spring.

*   Adams & Butler (www.adamsandbutler.com), an Ireland-based tour operator, is partnered with several members of Britain’s aristocracy, which gives clients exclusive behind-the-scenes access to castles, manor houses and special events (think watching a horse race with Betty O’Connell, who ran the Irish Horse Racing Board). The brand also rents out castles and estates to use as private villas or for individual stays. Best of all, these properties can only be booked through Adams & Butler, and Adams & Butler only works with travel agents.

*   One notable British palace that is open for tea and tours is Blenheim Palace (www.blenheimpalace.com), famous as the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Groups can go on themed tours to learn about Churchill, the ladies and gents who have lived in the palace or even locations throughout the grounds that have been used in films. Sales Manager Ulrika Ericson recommends staying for the formal tea at the palace.

*   Enterprise Rent-a-Car is offering 15 percent commissions on rentals in the UK and Ireland. One-way rentals are available between markets (including all major airports), and drivers as young as 23 can rent.

*   Tennis fans will want to take a ride out to Wimbledon, where agents can book tours of the on-site museum online (www.wimbledon.com/museum). The museum runs four tours per day during winter and nine in summer, all lead by Blue Badge guides. (Cool fact: King George VI, subject of the recent film The King’s Speech, once played at Wimbledon.) A film on the science of tennis will be offered in 3D next year.