Downton Abbey"s Michelle Dockery and Rupert Grint star in ad to boost UK tourism


Downton-by-sea: Stars of the screen unite to promote UK tourism and our glorious landscapes

Encouragement: Some of Birtain's top stars, including Michelle Dockery of Downton Abbey fame, are to star in adverts encouraging Britons to holiday at home

Encouragement: Some of Birtain's top stars, including Michelle Dockery of Downton Abbey fame, are to star in adverts encouraging Britons to holiday at home

Some of the nation's most celebrated stars have joined forces to encourage Brits to holiday at home.

Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery and Harry Potter's
Rupert Grint have teamed up with Stephen Fry and Julie Walters for a new advertising campaign which will break tomorrow.

The initiative – which extends beyond television adverts – has cost 5million, making it the country's biggest ever tourism drive.

The 'Holidays at Home are Great' ad features the four celebrities encouraging Brits to explore UK destinations and ends with the line, 'No passports. No jabs. No visas. No Euros. No wonder holidays at home are so great.'

It promotes a number of locations across the UK ahead of the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympic torch relay.

The Government hopes the drive – led by VisitEngland with the support of the tourist boards of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – will discourage British holidaymakers from travelling abroad during an Olympic year, as host nations commonly experience a 'sag' in domestic tourism.

Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for culture, media, sport and the Olympics, said ahead of the launch which took place at the London Eye today: 'This is the first time we've had a national domestic tourism marketing campaign.

'It is completely measurable – we will know how many nights are booked as a result of this campaign.

'As an industry and as a Government, we will know whether this type of campaign works and what the return on investment is.

'That in itself will provide an important template going forward in terms of upping our game in marketing.'

Come hither: Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery pictured at Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, is one of four celebrities that have been recruited to help encourage Brits to holiday at home

Come hither: Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery pictured at Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, is one of four celebrities that have been recruited to help encourage Brits to holiday at home

Michelle Dockery

Michelle Dockery

It is hoped the drive will discourage British holidaymakers from travelling abroad during an Olympic year

Harry Potter star Rupert Grint surfed at Bridlington beach in Yorkshire for the advert

Harry Potter star Rupert Grint surfed at Bridlington beach in Yorkshire for the advert

Consumers will be able to save 20.12 per cent on bookings for accommodation, restaurants, attractions, events and transport via a dedicated website, www.great2012offers.com.

While James Beresford, chief executive of VisitEngland, predicts the new campaign should generate an additional 80m in domestic spend and create 12,500 jobs.

The ads show Dockery at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and Grint on Bridlington Beach in Yorkshire.

While additional 10-second executions are set to showcase a number of other destinations including Blackpool, Skegness, Yorkshire and Liverpool.

Patriotic: Fry asks the viewer 'why on earth' anyone would want to leave the UK

Patriotic: Fry asks the viewer 'why on earth' anyone would want to leave the UK

Julie Walters: 'This it the Tate Liverpool there is no Tate Algarve I'm afraid'

Julie Walters: 'This it the Tate Liverpool there is no Tate Algarve I'm afraid'

Despite strong support, some areas of the travel
industry – including ABTA The Travel Association – have criticised the
campaign for favouring domestic tourism over the already-struggling
international tourism market.

Mark Tanzer, CEO of ABTA said: 'We
are very concerned that the Government is sponsoring a marketing
campaign that appears to actively discourage UK holidaymakers from
taking a foreign break: I’m sure the public want to make up their own
mind about where to go on holiday.

'The outbound tourism industry
employs hundreds of thousands of people throughout the UK and generates
27 billion annually in direct spend, making a fundamental and
significant contribution to the economic health of the country.'