The British Tourist Authority (BTA) has launched its new-look #300,000 Web site, which it claims is the largest in the UK.
British tourism is valued at #37 billion a year and the BTA plans to use the site to promote the UK as a holiday destination. The site includes information on hotels, events and locations, allowing tourists to tailor their own UK holiday brochures and bookings.
The BTA has had a limited Web presence, but only in the last year has it attempted to unite the various boards and centres that act on its behalf.
Head of marketing Peter Varlow said of the site: "It required real teamwork as we needed to involve not just the BTA, but also the English Tourist Board and the Welsh and Scottish Tourist Boards. There are also some 800 information centres run by local authorities.
"What you see now is not the finished article. There's a lot more to put up."
The Web site has generated some unforeseen problems for the BTA, such as how to update terrabytes of constantly changing info. "We're looking at training up to 50 people to use FrontPage so they can update the site themselves. We could end up with 200. If they had to push everything through us, we'd soon become a pinch point and the process would be slow."
The BTA will market the site outside the UK by teaming up with 37 local offices worldwide. Each will have a native language Web site acting as a gateway to the main database. According to Vanner, it will take up to one year to complete the first 15. "We'll move faster in those countries where we have a good manager and travel company that knows the industry."
Meanwhile, the BTA has become the latest organisation to sign up auditors ABC to measure traffic on its Web site. The BTA believes an audit is fundamental in attracting advertisers seeking independent assurance that the site is as popular as it claims to be.
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