Is Brexit affecting UK tourism?
A year has passed since the British voted to leave the European Union. Lycetts, a provider of insurance for arcades as well as cover for many other types of tourism attractions, aims to find out how Brexit is going to change the way people visit the UK and also how the people of the UK visit other countries.
Holidaying at home
From the Travel Trends report of 2017 conducted by ABTA, they were able to find out some astonishing figures. They found out that the number of domestic holidays in the UK increased to 71% in 2016 — up from the 64% recorded in 2015.
From the Destination UK report by Barclays, we can see an increase in the amount of people staying within the country rather than going abroad. The report revealed 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.
Here are some of the top factors for the average British adult spending more time in the UK on holiday than in previous years:
- 34% cited choice as a main reason, stating ‘I would like to spend more time in the UK’.
- 32% cited cost as a main reason, stating ‘holidays in the UK are now more affordable’.
- 23% cited experience as a main reason, stating ‘I enjoyed a recent UK holiday and so am keen to replicate this’.
- 15% 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% cited time as a main reason, stating ‘I have less time than I have had previously to holiday abroad’.
In a study of over 2,000 UK holidaymakers, 40% of those who have planned a UK-based holiday during 2017 have their heart set on arranging a city break. 37% responded by stating that they would prefer to visit and stay in a rural location.
Here we have found the most popular regions for domestic holidaymakers. The following areas of the UK make up the top five:
- 30% of respondents planning to visit the South West.
- 22%planning to visit Scotland.
- 20%planning to visit Wales.
- 20%planning to visit Yorkshire and Humberside.
- 18%planning to visit London.
From the rise in staycations, we can see that it is having a great impact on the British economy (according to the Destination UK report). 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.
How Brits are viewing holidays abroad
As always, we can still see that there is a huge market for those wanting to holiday overseas, even if we do have an increase in staycations. Early bookings for holidays abroad during the summer of 2017 were up 11% on last year’s figures, according to ABTA’s Travel Trends Report 2017. People are wanting to experience more and to be able to say they’ve travelled to many countries around the world. 26% of all holidaymakers have said that they are very likely to visit a country that they’ve never been to before, while 29% said they will seek out a holiday to a new resort or city even if they have been to the country in the past.
Are international travellers wanting to visit the UK?
With more Brits staying in the UK, are we still seeing travellers from other countries come to the UK rather than staying in their own country? There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that they are.
In a survey of over 7,000 international holidaymakers, 60% said that they were more attracted to visit places within the UK than they were 12 months previously. 97% 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.
Here are the most popular regions for international visitors to the UK:
- 67% of respondents plan to visit London.
- 44% planning to visit Scotland.
- 29% planning to visit Wales.
- 24% planning to visit Northern Ireland.
- 17% planning to visit Yorkshire and Humberside.
Spending patterns from people who are holidaying in the UK are sure to impact the British economy in a good way. 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.
Statistics from VisitBritain have showed that foreign visitors have already spent £2.7 billion in January and February 2017 alone. This is a rise of 11% compared to 2016’s figures over the same two months.
“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.” Patricia Yates, director of VisitBritain, commented.
Why are people wanting to come to the UK? 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:
|Dimension/attribute||UK rank in 2016|
|Rich in historic buildings & monuments||5|
|Vibrant city life & urban attractions||4|
|Would like to visit if money was no object||5|
|Rich in natural beauty||24|
|Interesting & exciting for contemporary culture||4|
|Excels at sport||5|
|Has a rich cultural heritage||7|
Research by VisitBritain suggest that associated words for tourism and cultural products are one of the main factors as to why people find the UK so appealing.
The top five tourism word associations
- Educational – 34 per cent
- Fascinating – 31 per cent
- Exciting – 30 per cent
- Romantic – 16 per cent
- Relaxing – 16 per cent
The 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 UK’s top visitor attractions
With the top ten cultural product associations, we can see that there are many places that visitors from abroad and those that live in the UK can visit. Surely there has been a positive impact on visitor numbers at these types of sites?
Association of Leading Visitor Attractions revealed that for its member visitor figures from 2016, visitor numbers to UK attractions has increased — by 7.2%.
On the list below, we can evidently see that London was the most popular regarding their attractions. Almost 70,000,000 people visited these places 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…
|Attraction||Part of the UK||Total visits in 2016|
|Natural History Museum (South Kensington)||London||4,624,113|
|Victoria and Albert Museum (South Kensington)||London||3,022,086|
|Tower of London||London||2,741,126|
|Royal Museums Greenwich||London||2,451,023|
|National Portrait Gallery||London||1,949,330|
|National Museum of Scotland||Edinburgh||1,810,948|
|Royal Albert Hall||London||1,660,123|
|Scottish National Gallery||Edinburgh||1,544,069|
|St Paul’s Cathedral||London||1,519,018|
|Old Royal Naval College||London||1,477,117|
|Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum||Glasgow||1,259,318|
|Roman Baths & Pump Room||Somerset||1,216,938|
|ZSL London Zoo||London||1,211,279|
|RHS: Garden Wisley||Woking||1,110,050|
|The Royal Shakespeare Theatre & Swan Theatre||Stratford-upon-Avon||1,069,129|
|Imperial War Museum||London||1,011,172|
“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.” Bernard Donoghue, from ALVA, commented.
ABTA’s strategy for making a success of Brexit for travel & tourism
Tourism culture within the UK and Brits looking to holiday abroad are proving to be healthy. 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.
“We want to work with the Government to help make Brexit as successful as possible,” commented ABTA’s chief executive Mark Tanzer.