Mr Brunel brushes up his foreign language skills to launch SS Great Britain’s international welcome programme
Mr Brunel is brushing up his foreign language skills so he can greet visitors in multiple languages at his top-rated attraction SS Great Britain, to spearhead the ship’s new international welcome programme.
The famous ship’s new initiative is intended to give all visitor-facing staff training and confidence to say basic European phrases and understand simple customs so they can be as welcoming as possible.
To launch the programme, Mr Brunel will be appearing daily at Bristol’s Temple Meads station from next Monday (22nd July) to greet international visitors to the city, culminating on the United Nation’s World Friendship Day on 30th July.
Brunel’s SS Great Britain, which recently won the award for Europe’s Most Welcoming Museum at the European Museum of the Year Awards, is hoping the proactive approach will encourage tourists to continue to climb aboard, even against the challenging picture nationally.
Recent VisitBritain statistics show a worrying decline in European tourists to the UK. Their figures show that visitor numbers in 2018 fell to below those of 2016 and in the first seven weeks of 2019 European bookings were significantly lower than usual signifying a continual decline. Their research has shown that interest from European travellers, which accounts for more than two thirds of all overseas visitors, has fallen from 76% in 2016 to 69% in autumn 2018 and there is speculation that Brexit has prompted a belief in Europe that the UK is unwelcoming to European visitors.
Matthew Tanner, chief executive of the SS Great Britain Trust says:
“We want to send out a clear message that Brunel’s SS Great Britain and the city of Bristol is extending the hand of friendship to all our international and European neighbours.
“Whatever the future may hold, we need to proactively encourage a more international outlook. This is particularly important at a time when the numbers of students studying languages at school has fallen by a quarter in the last five years*.
“We celebrate all nations and cultures. After all, Brunel himself was the son of an immigrant and he turned out to be one of our greatest ever Britons.”
Languages visitors can be expected to be greeted in by Brunel’s SS Great Britain team members include Italian, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Polish, Greek, Lithuanian, Latvian, Norwegian, Swedish and Hungarian.