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What affect is Brexit having on UK tourism?

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It has been over a year since the EU referendum when the British voters decided that they wanted to leave the European Union. But how has Brexit affected tourism in how Brits are planning to travel and the number of foreign citizens that are choosing to visit the UK?

Provider of insurance for arcades and many other tourist attractions Lycetts analyses the stats surrounding the UK’s tourism industry.

Holidaying at home

The number of domestic holidays in the UK increased from 64 per cent in 2015 to 71 per cent in the year of 2016. This information came from the Travel Trends Report 2017, produced by ABTA.

Brits are deciding to holiday at home due to personal preference, not because of financial reasons. In their Destination UK report, Barclays found that this was the case for more than a third of adults across Britain.

Here are the reasons why the average British adult is spending more time in the UK on holiday than in previous years:

  • 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 holuday 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 surveyed over 2,000 British holidaymakers and found out that 40 per cent of those are likely to start organising a city break. 37 per cent responded by stating that they would prefer to visit and stay in a rural location.

The following areas of the UK were the top five for domestic holidays in different regions:

  • 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.

Due to more people committing to ‘staycations’ we can see a beneficial effect on the economy – as more people are spending within the country oppose to spending abroad. 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.

Brits abroad

Holidays abroad still have a big market for Brits, largely because you aren’t always guaranteed good weather in the UK. Early bookings for summer 2017 holidays were heightened by 11 per cent above the previous year.

Holidaymakers want to see as much of the world as they can and enjoy new experiences in new countries. 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 do we look from the outside?

The Destination UK report from Barclays showed that of over 7,000 holidaymakers from abroad, 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.

Popular regions for international visitors to the UK are different to where staycationers would visit:

  • 67 per cent of respondents planning to visit London.
  • 44 per cent planning to visit Scotland.
  • 29 per cent planning to visit Wales.
  • 24 per cent planning to visit Northern Ireland.
  • 17 per cent planning to visit Yorkshire and Humberside.

The economy will likely grow due to the amount of spending that international visitors invest into the country. 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.

VisitBritain found that foreign visitors have already spent a record £2.7 billion in January and February 2017. This is a rise of 11 per cent compared to 2016’s figures over the same two months.

Quoted from Patricia Yates, director of VisitBritain: “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.”

So many people are interested in visiting the UK, but why? 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
Tourism 5
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
Culture 5
Interesting & exciting for contemporary culture 4
Excels at sport 5
Has a rich cultural heritage 7

The above findings by VisitBritain provide an insight into how international tourists view the UK and what is most appealing to them:

Top 5 word associations for tourism

  1. Educational – 34 per cent
  2. Fascinating – 31 per cent
  3. Exciting – 30 per cent
  4. Romantic – 16 per cent
  5. Relaxing – 16 per cent

Top 5 cultural products associations

  1. Museums – 47 per cent
  2. Films – 39 per cent
  3. Music – 39 per cent
  4. Sports – 36 per cent
  5. Pop videos – 29 per cent

Top attractions in Britain

With a rise in staycations and more interest in visitors from abroad due UK attractions, surely there has been a positive impact on visitor numbers at these types of sites?

ALVA members visitor figures revealed that visitor numbers to UK attractions has increased by 7.2 per cent on 2015’s figures.

Attractions within the capital of England proved majorly 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…

Attraction Part of the UK Total visits in 2016
British Museum London 6,420,395
National Gallery London 6,262,839
Tate Modern London 5,839,197
Natural History Museum (South Kensington) London 4,624,113
Southbank Centre London 3,909,376
Somerset House London 3,443,220
Science Museum London 3,245,750
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
Chester Zoo Chester 1,898,059
Kew Gardens London 1,828,956
Westminster Abbey London 1,819,945
National Museum of Scotland Edinburgh 1,810,948
Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh 1,778,548
Royal Albert Hall London 1,660,123
Scottish National Gallery Edinburgh 1,544,069
St Paul’s Cathedral London 1,519,018
British Library London 1,500,986
Old Royal Naval College London 1,477,117
Stonehenge Wiltshire 1,381,855
Royal Academy London 1,285,595
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum Glasgow 1,259,318
Riverside Museum Glasgow 1,259,042
Roman Baths & Pump Room Somerset 1,216,938
ZSL London Zoo London 1,211,279
RHS: Garden Wisley Woking 1,110,050
Tate Britain London 1,081,542
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre & Swan Theatre Stratford-upon-Avon 1,069,129
Imperial War Museum London 1,011,172
Eden Project Cornwall 1,000,363

“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.” Director of ALVA commented.

ABTA’s strategy for making a success of Brexit for travel & tourism

As the UK’s exit from the EU edges ever nearer, we can see that both Brits holidaying abroad and those coming to the UK is at a good place. ABTA hopes this can be maintained by asking the government to focus on five key points in the country’s Brexit negotiations:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Giving UK businesses operational stability — such as retaining access to employment markets and continuing to look into tax and border issues.
  5. 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.” Said ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer.












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