How is Brexit affecting the UK tourism?

With Brexit affecting every aspect of UK life, from business to travel, we take a look at how the vote will affect the UK tourism industry.

It has almost been a year since UK residents voted for the country to leave the European Union, but just how has Brexit affected tourism both in how Brits are planning to travel and the number of foreign citizens that are choosing to visit the UK? Lycetts, a provider of insurance for arcades as well as cover for many other types of tourism attractions, aims to find out…

The rise of the staycation

The leading association of travel agents and tour operators ABTA, finds in its Travel Trends Report 2017 that the number of domestic holidays in the UK increased to 71 per cent in 2016 — up from the 64 per cent recorded in 2015.

In its Destination UK report, Barclays shone more light on the increased popularity of the staycation by revealing that more than a third of adults across Britain are choosing to holiday closer to home this year, because of personal preference as opposed to limitations due to cost.

In fact, the main reasons for spending more time in the UK on holiday than in previous years are now as follows for the average British adult:

34 per cent cited choice as a main reason, stating ‘I would like to spend more time in the UK’.

32 per cent cited cost as a main reason, stating ‘holidays in the UK are now more affordable’.

23 per cent cited experience as a main reason, stating ‘I enjoyed a recent UK holiday and so am keen to replicate this’.

15 per cent cited the number of activities available as a main reason, stating ‘there are more holiday activities in the UK than there were in the past’.

14 per cent cited time as a main reason, stating ‘I have less time than I have had previously to holiday abroad’.

Barclays also find in its study of over 2,000 UK holidaymakers that 40 per cent of those planning a UK-based holiday throughout 2017 have their mind set on organising a city break. 37 per cent responded by stating that they would prefer to visit and stay in a rural location.

Looking at the most popular regions for domestic holidaymakers, the following areas of the UK make up the top five:

30 per cent of respondents planning to visit the South West.

22 per cent planning to visit Scotland.

20 per cent planning to visit Wales.

20 per cent planning to visit Yorkshire and Humberside.

18 per cent planning to visit London.

The rise of the staycation appears to be having a great effect on the economy too, if further insights from Barclay’s Destination UK report is anything to go on. The average visitor taking a trip within the UK spends an average of £309 on accommodation throughout their staycation, as well as £152 on eating out, £121 on shopping and £72 on holiday parks – if that is part of their domestic getaway.

Attitudes to overseas holidays by Brits

While the staycation trend is proving popular for many Brits, there is still certainly a market for those looking to enjoy a holiday abroad.

In fact, ABTA’s Travel Trends Report 2017 finds that early bookings for overseas holidays to be taken throughout summer 2017 were tracking 11 per cent above last year’s figures.

New experiences are particularly capturing the attention of Brits planning overseas holidays. 26 per cent of all holidaymakers have said that they are very likely to visit a country that they’ve never been to before, while 29 per cent said they will seek out a holiday to a new resort or city even if they have been to the country in the past.

How international travellers are viewing the UK

A lot of Brits are looking to stay in the UK for their holidays then, but is the market for international travellers coming to the UK proving just as healthy? There’s plenty of evidence to suggest it is.

Barclays’ Destination UK report highlighted that in a survey of more than 7,000 international holidaymakers, over 60 per cent stated that they were now more interested in visiting the UK than they were 12 months previously. 97 per cent also responded that they would like to see the UK in person, either in the coming months or at least some point in the future.

The most popular regions for international visitors to the UK differ quite significantly from staycationers though, with the following areas of the UK this time making up the top five:

67 per cent of respondents planning to visit London.

44 per cent planning to visit Scotland.

24 per cent planning to visit Northern Ireland.

29 per cent planning to visit Wales.

17 per cent planning to visit Yorkshire and Humberside.

No matter where international visitors choose to visit when in the UK, their spending patterns are sure to prove a boost to the country’s economy. This is because a survey conducted as part of the Barclays Destination UK report found that the average spend on accommodation by this group to be £667, along with £453 on shopping and £339 on food and drink.

Furthermore, official statistics gathered by VisitBritain has revealed that overseas visitors have already spent a record £2.7 billion in January and February 2017 alone — a rise of 11 per cent compared to 2016’s figures over the same two months.

Patricia Yates, director of VisitBritain, comments, ‘These figures show that 2017 is off to a cracking start for inbound tourism, one of our most valuable export industries. Britain is offering great value for overseas visitors and we can see the success of our promotions in international markets. We must continue to build on our message of welcome and value in our high spending markets such as China, the US and the valuable European market.’

What is attracting people to come to the UK then? VisitBritain’s How The World Views Britain — 2016 report can go a long way to answering this, first through their UK ranking for NBI dimensions and attributes:

Top five tourism word associationsBoth the tourism word associations and cultural products associated with the UK gathered by VisitBritain provide insight into how international tourists view the UK and possibly find it appealing to visit:

Educational – 34 per cent

Fascinating – 31 per cent

Exciting – 30 per cent

Romantic – 16 per cent

Relaxing – 16 per cent

Top ten cultural products associations

Museums – 47 per cent

Films – 39 per cent

Music – 39 per cent

Sports – 36 per cent

Pop videos – 29 per cent

Modern design – 29 per cent

Opera – 24 per cent

Sculpture – 24 per cent

Street carnival – 15 per cent

Circus – 13 per cent

The state of the UK’s top visitor attractions

With many of the top cultural product associations made about the UK are in relation to visitor attractions, along with the growing popularity of staycations, surely there has been a positive impact on visitor numbers at these types of sites?

According to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) when revealing its members’ visitor figures for 2016, visitor numbers to UK attractions has indeed increased — by 7.2 per cent on 2015’s figures.

London’s attractions proved most popular — 66,938,947 people visited these sites last year which is more than the UK’s entire population — though many other popular spots also recorded healthy tourism figures upwards of 1 million tourists…

ABTA’s strategy for making a success of Brexit for travel & tourismLooking at the figures, ALVA’s director Bernard Donoghue says, ‘Many of our members in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Cornwall had record years in 2016, although the first nine months of 2016 were unquestionably hard for our members, particularly in London, for many reasons. However, by the end of the year nearly all attractions were reporting growth from visitors from overseas and the rest of the UK.’

The research seen above certainly suggests that both the tourism culture across the UK and the market for Brits looking for holidays overseas are proving healthy at the moment. As the UK’s exit from the EU edges ever nearer though, will this remain to be seen? ABTA hopes so by asking the government to focus on five key points in the country’s Brexit negotiations:

Maintaining our ability to travel freely within Europe and beyond — this includes ensuring that UK airlines can continue to fly and also protecting rail, road and sea routes alike.

Keeping visa-free travel between the UK and the EU — so to maintain both fast and efficient processes through the country’s airports and ports.

Protecting valuable consumer rights — this takes into account mobile roaming fees in Europe still being abolished and ensuring UK travellers have continued access to either free or reduced cost medical treatment, wherever they are in Europe through the European Health Insurance Cards scheme.

Giving UK businesses operational stability — such as retaining access to employment markets and continuing to look into tax and border issues.

Seizing opportunities for growth — for example, reducing Air Passenger Duty, cutting visa costs and working towards world-class connectivity.

ABTA’s chief executive Mark Tanzer summarised this strategy and says, ‘We want to work with the Government to help make Brexit as successful as possible.’

Further reading

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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