Journalists in Britain to cover the Olympics were given a day out to remember as they were taken on a Jane Austen-inspired tour of Bath.
With time to spare before the recent opening ceremony, half a dozen reporters from China, South Africa and India, together with the cream of British media, were stunned by the sun-kissed Georgian architecture as they visited the streets where Austen lived and walked.
Next year is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and, just as this year’s bicentenary of Charles Dickens attracted tourists to Britain, 2013 is expected to spark added interest in Bath, the city Jane first visited as a teenager.
The thirst for literary tours – or literatours – is a growing trend says the English Tourist Board, and the fact that Austen set Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in Bath looks set to boost tourism.
Bath’s perfectly-preserved Georgian architecture remains unchanged from the streets depicted in the books and The Jane Austen Centre in a Georgian town house just a few doors down from where she once lived, brings the author’s world to life.
On their tour the journalists walked past one of her former homes as they made their way to the Circus where, until recently, actor Nicolas Cage owned a house.
They had afternoon tea in The Royal Crescent Hotel, where guests have included another famous actor, Johnny Depp, and visited The Assembly Rooms, where the Georgian society went to dance.
With more than 6,000 journalists in Britain for the Olympics, Bath Tourism Plus has been keen to make the most of the opportunity to promote the city. Earlier in the week, the TODAY breakfast TV show on Australia’s Channel 9 transmitted live from the Roman Baths to 350,000 viewers back home.
Bath Tourism Plus chief executive Nick Brooks-Sykes said: “The Olympic Games are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase Britain to the world. With massive media attention on Britain, Bath Tourism Plus is working hard to ensure that as many journalists as possible have information at their fingertips about Bath and its appeal as one of the country’s top tourism destinations.
“We are therefore working with partners to invite journalists to Bath so that they can experience our tourist attractions first-hand and then go away and write about Bath.
“The Jane Austen inspired itinerary attracted a range of top tier media, including glossy magazines, radio and broadcast outlets, online and print media – both trade and consumer – from the UK, China and South Africa.
“However, many of the visiting media this summer will not have the chance to travel outside London during their stay. So Bath Tourism Plus in partnership with the national tourism body VisitEngland aims to take Bath to the media – for just one day.”
Bath is one of 10 English cities to have a dedicated carriage on an Orient-Express British Pullman train specially-chartered by VisitEngland on July 31 to travel through the English countryside with up to 200 international and UK media on board.
Bath Tourism Plus, joined by Thermae Bath Spa, will be on the Bath carriage armed news and feature ideas and Bath’s events schedule for the next 12 months as well as gifts and locally-produced cider.