Report from Best of Britain & Ireland Exhibition


The floor of the Best of Britain & Ireland exhibition

After two days of constantly running around the city, it was almost a relief to stay in one place for a whole day. The Best of Britain & Ireland exhibition brought dozens of specialists and tour operators from all over the British Isles together to celebrate all the things to see and do here. A much longer recap will follow, but here are a few attractions and destinations to bear in mind.

*    Kent is hyping up its tourism campaign, reminding people that Canterbury has been a popular tourist destination ever since Thomas Becket was murdered (some would say martyred) in its cathedral almost 1,000 years ago. Two somewhat more modern attractions around Kent are the neighboring properties of Hever Castle and Penshurst Place, where Henry VIII courted Anne Boleyn. (Like I said, only somewhat more modern.)  Naturally, the two estates celebrate their Tudor history with tours and events, and we heard tell that there is a package visiting sites used in the film The Other Boleyn Girl.

*    In Wiltshire, visitors can stay at the five-star Lucknam Park, the new Bowood Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort—which just opened last year—or the new serviced Peartree Apartments.

*    In Devon, geology buffs can rent a car and drive along the Jurassic Coast line, where exposed rocks show off the layers of the earth. For those less inclined towards geology, there are cycling routes, walking tours and intimate bed-and-breakfasts for a genuine escape from the outside world. At The Globe Hotel, a small inn in the town of Topsham, General Manager Liz Hodges hosts unique events—like a community-wide pot-luck dinner that brought 1,500 people together for a locally-sourced meal. (She hopes to repeat the dinner this year.)

*    Last year’s Homecoming Scotland campaign worked very well, said Linda McAllister, trade marketing manager with Visit Scotland. While the recession kept many people home, North American numbers to Scotland remained steady, and are “way up” for this year already. “Value-for-money is the most important message,” she said. “Events and festivals give clients a chance to really experience cultures.” She said some new fam trips were in the works, and that Scotland would begin promoting itself as a destination for adventure travel, including sea kayaking and mountain climbing.