London, Feb 20 (PTI) In a first-of-its-kind partnership, three of Britain’s largest cities have formed an alliance to attract more tourists from India as part of a new drive launched here today. Also Read - Rohit Chadda, The Turnaround CEO Carved Out Another Success Story in 2020

London, Manchester and Birmingham will collaborate on the “Experience England” initiative to jointly promote the best of English tourism in three of the world’s fastest growing markets — India, China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries that include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Also Read - Monsoon Session Day 2: Lok Sabha Passes Essential Commodities Bill to Raise Farmer Income, Boost Agri Sector | Highlights

The first-of-its-kind partnership will focus on increasing the number of visitors arriving in one city and then travelling across the different regions of England. Also Read - Birmingham Stabbings: Man Arrested Day After UK Police Launched Search Over Late Night Attacks Across City

“London is home to 10 most popular tourist attractions in the UK and we’re proud to welcome millions of visitors every year. But it’s important that they have the chance to see what’s on offer in other parts of the country too and I’m committed to working with other cities and regions to use the capital’s reputation to drive tourism across the nation,” London mayor Sadiq Khan said.

In 2016, London welcomed 273,000 Indian visitors — a 16 per cent increase on 2011.

According to a recent ‘Tourism Vision for London’ report, Indian visitors to the British capital are expected to increase by 90 per cent by 2025 and visitor spend from India is expected to go up by 180 per cent during the same period.

India, China and the GCC are projected to be among the fastest-growing tourism markets in the world, according to the London & Partners (L&P) — the London mayor’s promotional agency.

The “Experience England” project will be financed by a 1.2-million-pound grant awarded to the L&P as part of a number of projects to receive funding from the UK government’s VisitEngland-administered 40-million-pound fund designed to ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing tourism industry.

The project is pegged at creating and promoting a new England tourism experience, making it easy for customers from India, China and the GCC to visit the cities of London, Manchester and Birmingham and then go on to explore the English countryside and villages.

“The successful projects will boost international and domestic visitor growth, creating a step-change in the industry and spreading the economic benefits of tourism across England,” said Sally Balcombe, CEO of VisitBritain and VisitEngland initiatives.

A research by the L&P shows that while fewer than a third of visitors staying overnight in London go on to stay overnight elsewhere in the UK, levels of visitor satisfaction increase significantly when people do visit other destinations.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Greater Manchester is not only a vibrant, exciting region but it is also a gateway to explore the north of England, including places such as the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, the Peak District and so much more.

“With increasing interest from international visitors, now is the ideal time to work together to create compelling itineraries that showcase the breadth and diversity of the entire country, starting or ending in our three biggest cities,” Burnham said.

His view was echoed by the mayor in charge of Birmingham, in the West Midlands region of England.

“Not only does the West Midlands boast a vibrant retail offer, Michelin star restaurants and world-class cultural gems, it’s also an essential gateway to the heart of England and its countryside, and is a stone’s throw from the capital city,” said West Midlands Mayor Andy Street.

In the UK, tourism makes up nine per cent of the GDP, with London registering a higher figure at 11.6 per cent of the city’s GDP.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.