Yesterday Transport for London issued a press release announcing it had “appointed” VisitBritain to sell and promote the Oyster card overseas.
Under the deal, VisitBritain will sell the Oyster via its “extensive overseas network and retail operation”, allowing tourists “to have their Oyster card ready to go prior to arriving in London, reducing queues at airport ticket halls and London Underground stations.”
All very sensible, why force people to queue to buy an Oyster card on arrival when they can buy one before boarding their plane?
Yet the announced deal and hoped-for outcomes seem remarkably similar to the “deal to enable international visitors to buy and receive Oyster cards before they arrive in the capital giving them quicker, easier journeys and more time to enjoy their trip” announced in August 2006 and reported by us at the time.
Presumably TfL’s latest press release should have read ‘re-appointed’?
Update 20/09/2012: Awoken from their sleep, TfL have now commented as follows:
“The difference between this week’s announcement and that from 2006 is that Visit Britain are now the sole single point of contact for all international sales of the Visitor Oyster.
“Previously TfL used to still manage some of the relationships with global agencies directly, but the new contract entered into means Visit Briain will manage all marketing and distribution of Visitor Oyster cards overseas.”
TfL have proven characteristically hard to pin down on this but it does seem all they’ve done this week is sign a new contract that extends the work VisitBritain was already doing. Why they find it so hard to clearly say so remains a mystery, ditto the 2 day delay in providing a response to a simple request.