UK Cashes in on Tourism Investment

The United Kingdom travel industry has a lot to be thankful for these days. It appears the market is drawing visitors at a record-setting pace. According to The Independent, 23.1 million overseas travelers chose to visit the UK from January to July this year – and 40 million people are expected to arrive by the end of 2017.

That’s an 8 percent increase compared to the same time last year and an extra 1.15 billion dollars in visitor spending.

Steve Ridgway, the British Tourist Authority Chairman, has indicated that tourism was worth more than $167 billion annually to the economy and a job creator across Britain. He explains, "Two-and-a-half times bigger than the automotive industry, employing three million, tourism is one of our most successful exports and needs no trade deals to compete globally."

It appears that VisitBritain is generating quite the return on investment, as well. According to the report, for every pound invested during the financial year 2016-2017, 20 pounds of additional visitor spend was generated into the economy.

There are several factors leading to the influx in UK travel. The UK Minister of Tourism, John Glen, said the growth is “testament to our world-class attractions and the innovation of our tourism industry,” but the more prominent reason may actually be a slumping currency – especially compared to the Euro and US Dollar - since the Brexit vote last year.

As the pound’s value drops, it becomes more affordable for overseas travelers to visit Britain and the United Kingdom. Perhaps just as important though, it makes domestic travel more attractive. According to The Independent, from January to June this year, domestic overnight holidays in England increased 7 percent - to a record 20.4 million with visitors spending at over 6 billion dollars, up a record 17 percent.

Tourism officials in the UK realize the inbound travel improvements aren’t guaranteed to last, however. And the long-term success definitely can’t be based on a slumping pound.

Mr. Ridgeway knows, "Tourism is a fiercely competitive global industry and you cannot just build a strong, resilient industry on a weaker currency.”

“We must continue to invest in developing world-class tourism products, getting Britain on the wish-list of international and domestic travellers and we must make it easy for visitors to make that trip."

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Hyatt is considering offering loyalty points for vacation rental stays within its network. Hyatt’s loyalty program, World of Hyatt, was overhauled in 2016 to award travelers based on spend, rather than nights booked. And now, According to Skift, the hotel giant is hoping that including The Unbound Collection and Oasis, its two home rental offerings, into the loyalty program will be the “shot in the arm” Hyatt needs to further interest consumers.
  • According to an article in TTG, families and wealthier consumers are most likely to use a travel agent or tour operator to book their trips. The (Association of British Travel Agents) “ABTA Holiday Habits Report 2017” has revealed that 38 percent of all consumers have booked a holiday through a travel professional in the past 12 months, while 50 percent of “upper middle class” people used a travel professional and 47 percent of families with children under five used a professional.

The top reasons for booking through the trade were: to make the booking easier (60%), provide greater confidence (52%) and save time (48%).

Sources: The Independent, Skift, TTG

Posted by Pete Bahrenburg