Skift Take

No place in Europe is having a great tourism season, but London is faring particularly bad. Luxury retailers are feeling the pinch.

The UK’s approach to reopening tourism earlier this summer was always out of step with the rest of Europe’s. So perhaps it’s no surprise that booking trends for the third and fourth quarters of 2020 show other European cities faring better than the British capital.

New data from travel analytics firm ForwardKeys shows that for the fourth quarter of this year, Europe as a whole will see a 65 percent drop in its year on year inbound travel. London, meanwhile will see a 71.6 percent drop, performing worse than Paris, Rome, Lisbon, and Barcelona.

Parts of southern Europe are performing particularly well based on air tickets issued for the third and fourth quarter. The top 10 performers are southern European beach cities, especially in Greece. However, only one destination, Menorca in the Balearic Islands, is tracking for an improvement over last year’s numbers.

The slump is hurting Britain’s luxury retail sector, with central London outlets of luxury brands operating in what feels like a ghost town since non-essential retail was permitted to reopen in June. Walpole, a luxury trade group in the UK, called on the British government this week to act swiftly to reverse the perception of tourism in the UK, noting that there has been a a 60 percent decline in luxury sector revenue over the first six months of the year.

“We must signal that the UK is open for business to overseas customers if we are to ‘Build back Better,'” said Helen Brocklebank, chief executive of Walpole. “British luxury brands have taken a highly strategic and segmented approach in their business strategies, and Government needs to do the same. There are five key territories from which the UK receives its highest spending international shoppers. We’ve got to do everything we can to get them back to London as swiftly as possible, if we are to not only save our luxury goods sector, but also the highly sustainable jobs it supports around the UK and the considerable export revenue that it generates.”

The group is calling for a focus on attracting tourists from high-spending nations including China, the USA, Russia, and countries in the Gulf. It’s also calling for the government to urgently “address reputational issues which are and will deter many visitors from choosing to visit the UK. The campaign must illustrate that the UK is safe to visit, the virus is under control, that effective measures are in place and that the UK remains an incredible place to visit.”


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Tags: coronavirus, europe, tourism

Photo credit: London's empty Oxford Street. FP Creative Ltd / Unsplash

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