Tourism Industry News
British tourism suffers as recession impact starts to bite
New provisional figures from the International Passenger Survey - the key monitor of international tourism to the UK - out (12 February) show that in the 12 months of 2008, overseas residents made 32 million visits to the UK and spent just over £16.4 billion.
Before adjusting for inflation, their spending is three per cent up on January - December 2007, while the number of visits has fallen by two per cent. National tourism agency, VisitBritain, believes the figures illustrate the continuing challenges of maintaining Britain’s popularity as a destination in the face of the global economic downturn and increasing competition from rival destinations. It appears that Britain is not yet enjoying the predicted increase in the number of international visitors because of the fall in sterling. More needs to be done to tell consumers overseas that Britain has never been more affordable and take advantage of partners around the world who are ready to match any public investment pound for pound.
A £6.5 million marketing campaign has already been planned by VisitBritain to launch in April. It will take advantage of hoteliers and carriers delivering great offers and remind Britons that holidaying at home supports British jobs. Activity will run chiefly in Europe and the USA alongside a major campaign with British Airways in Asia-Pacific markets. Ultimately campaigns will help boost visits to the free museums and galleries that are one of Britain’s major advantages over rival destinations.
Looking at the three month period to December (statistically more reliable than a single month) the UK suffered a fall in visitor numbers from all parts of the world. Furthermore, there are signs that as migrant workers return home, visits to Britain by their friends and relatives will decline, evidenced by the 15 per cent fall in visits from the A12 region - the second largest decrease in today's figures. This is important as Britain has previously relied on growth from emerging markets in Eastern Europe (as well as China, India and south-east Asia) to offset declines in more mature source markets.
Tourism supports 2.7 million jobs, 200,000 SMEs and is worth £114 billion, according to an independent report by Deloitte. It is one of the few industries that could show growth with a real opportunity to grow to a £133 billion industry by 2018. However, although every £40,000 of inbound visitor spending would generate a new full-time job, 114,000 jobs could be at risk during the economic downturn.
With the launch yesterday of its three-year strategy for inbound tourism, VisitBritain's priority for 2009 will be to work with the industry to encourage Britons to explore their own country and foreigners to visit right now, when the country offers great value. Success will mean increasing numbers of visitors; spending more in local economies and creating jobs.