Skift Take

UK's push towards Asian/emerging economies is a necessary one, as the short-haul inbound European market is stagnating or shrinking.

VisitBritain has come out with its 2012 annual review and while 2012 overall numbers are decent, especially from new visitors from BRIC and emerging countries, the trendlines from the traditional tourism drivers aren’t.

Taking all types of visits together – holidays, business trips, visits to friends and relatives and so on the number of visits in the past twelve months is little changed on, the year before and still has some way to go in order to recoup the losses seen following the global financial crisis of 2008/09. The number of business visits has risen marginally in the past year but remains 1.8 million lower than was the case back in early 2008.

During the past year inbound tourism has contributed £18.7 billion to Britain’s economy, a 5% rise in nominal terms on the previous twelve months.

Some numbers from review worth pointing out:

Both India and Brazil are now among the top five most important long-haul markets for Britain in terms of volume of visits and India is in the top five long-haul markets by value of spending too. At more than £1,600, a visit from China generates roughly three times as much as a visit from the typical inbound market.

  • The USA is by far Britain’s most valuable source market, worth £2.4 billion in the year to June 2012, an impressive 9% rise on the year before but the number of visits, at 2.9 million, remains one-third lower than was the case back in 2000.
  • Markets much closer to home provide the bulk of inbound visits to Britain but each of the top five short-haul markets has seen a fall in arrivals in the year. See chart, below.
  • Tourism – both domestic and international – is the country’s fifth largest employer, supporting 2.6 million jobs and contributing £115 billion to the economy and in the past two years tourism has accounted for a third of all new employment in the UK.

2013 visitor numbers are inevitably uncertain. The US and Europe remain our biggest source of visitors but face the fiscal cliff and continuing Eurozone uncertainty respectively. VisitBritain’s best estimate is that the volume of international tourism to Britain will grow by 3%, meaning almost one million extra visitors will come to the UK in 2013. And their spend is forecast to reach £19bn for the first time, representing growth of 2.5%.

PR interview below with Sandie Daw, CEO, VisitBritain, talking about this annual review:


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